At FastPencil I made a complete overhaul of the online publishing platform in order to improve the user experience and visual design. The added goal was to create a brandable platform that could be licensed to other book sellers who wanted to offer their own self-publishing service.
Results: Two companies so far—Books a Million and On Demand Books—have have both licensed the platform. They've each done some branding as expected but the product experience and much of the look-and-feel remains intact. (See SelfEspress by Books on Demand and Bam! Publishing by Books a Million.)
The problem: The original FastPencil is not very brandable for a number of reasons: there's too much going on (too many colors) and there's no clear hierarchy of elements. Additionally there are usability issues: the ability to select from existing projects is lost within the other competing elements and the ability to start a new project is missing.
The new dashboard in contrast is easily branded and has a simple and clear choice of actions: the primary being starting a new project while displaying clear access to all of the user's existing projects. The design is less intrusive and invites users to more easily engage with their own creations.