WE NYC, FOR NYC SBS
Supporting the Success of Women Entrepreneurs in New York CIty
Women Entrepreneurs NYC (WE NYC) is an initiative of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. The first program of its kind in the U.S., WE NYC aims to reduce the city's gender gap in entrepreneurship by connecting underserved women in business to resources, knowledge, and communities that help them thrive.
The program is comprised of innovative tools, tailored programs, and inclusive services, and was developed in 2016 through research, user testing and intensive feedback sessions with real women business owners across the five boroughs. The WE NYC website portal serves as a vital gateway for connecting women entrepreneurs to these resources, helping them reach their full economic potential.
The Robert Wood Johnshon Foundation is the largest philanthropic organization in the US dedicated to health and health care. In 2019, the Foundation sought to pivot one of it's pillar initiatives, The State of Obesity, to the State of Childhood Obesity, to focus specifically on public policy, community environments, and industry practices related to healthier choices for kids and families.
Along with the new brand direction, the redesigned site prioritizes best-available data, synthesizes expert insights and the Foundation's recommendations regarding key policies and programs, and highlights stories of action from across the country.
We worked with the city to elevate the initial branding for WE NYC, keeping in line with their original spec concept but giving it a stronger presence, refined for the web. Through rounds of iteration, the final logo design incorporated feedback from the project team and the city, as well as real WE NYC Mentors.
The identity is supported by a bold but not overly feminine color palette, a suite of simple, clean icons, and striking portrait photography of the real New York City business women behind the WE NYC Mentor program.
Through our human-centered design process, we designed the site along side frequent focus group discussions and usability testing events. These reviews took place both online and in-person, and with a diverse group of women representing varying industries, backgrounds, boroughs, skills, and experiences.
At each of these check points we were able to synthesize the shared insights and feedback, and incorporate this critical knowledge into our planning, design, and development decisions.
Clean Design for Complex Content
As a portal, WE NYC pulls together data from many disparate sources including: a database of women-owned businesses plotted on an interactive Google map, a repository of searchable local resources, and a comprehensive calendar which leverages the EventBrite API to combine event feeds from several city-wide entities.
A clean design, supported by a strong grid, clear visual hierachy, strong typography, and generous whitespace, presents the content in an approachable and attractive way, all working towards increasing comprehension and audience engagement.
Agile and Flexible
Our discovery findings showed that, for a significant portion of the women that the site intends to serve, a mobile device was the primary or only point of internet access. Armed with that information, we approached design with a clear mobile-first mindset, which was supported by an agile-fall workflow. This process also allowed us to roll out individual features, test their effectiveness, and make adjustments along the way.
The site's lightweight pages, single column templates, and nimble navigation menu, ensure an efficient and consistent experience across all devices and platforms.
Elevating Women's Stories
Aside from data, a major vertical that the website supports is the WE Connect Mentor program. Each year a class of around 20 women business founders, representing a variety of industries, backgrounds and business life stages, provide specialized guidance and services through the WE NYC platform.
Mentors past and present have unique profle pages on the site—including bios, areas of focus, and contact information—and robust blog pages connect articles written by Mentors back to their profile pages. In this way, the site becomes a growing repository of unique advice and perspectives, accesible to everyone.
Across the five boroughs, women-owned businesses employ over 190,000 people and generate approximately $50 billion in sales. WE NYC connects these women with the tools they need to keep their businesses flourishing.
Since the launch of the portal, New York City has been named the Best City in the World for Women Entrepreneurs by Fortune, and WE NYC continues to spearhead new initiatives aimed at empowering women and closing the small-business gender gap.