Digital Women Leaders is an online coaching resource for women in journalism and media.

Intended for students, professionals, and C-level media executives, Digital Women Leaders (DWL) helps women find mentors and grow their careers and is a widely-used tool for female journalists navigating their professional journeys. Founder Katie Hawkins-Gaar turned to Big Sea to build a more user-friendly, scalable, and reliable platform. As an added bonus, Big Sea put together an all-woman team to manage, design, and develop the site built for women, by women.

Our specific objectives were:

  • Develop a recognizable brand and style
  • Build a user-friendly, searchable database of coaches
  • Create an inviting user experience on a new website
Mural of women from Digital Women Leaders

A robust program held back by limited website functionality.

For a program with 120+ mentors, in 100+ specialties and topic areas, Digital Women Leaders had very limited functionality on their website. The site simply listed available mentors and their specializations, with no way for users to search for mentors or filter by specialization based on their needs. Search functionality had to be intuitive, but also easy to update with new mentors, skill sets, and services.

The site also wasn’t built to grow along with the organization, and so it needed to be more scalable to prepare for the organization’s future.

In addition, the site had been built before the brand was created, so no logo or memorable branding elements existed that could be used in designing and promoting the site.

I felt like everyone at Big Sea was very attentive and responsive, and I also felt like all of my needs were met. I am thrilled with how the site looks and how it’s working, but maybe even more importantly, I have received such good feedback from people who have emailed in, are shouting it out on Twitter and social media.
Katie Hawkins-Gaar
Founder, Digital Women Leaders

Screenshot of Digital Women Leaders mentor selector

Creating an intuitive, searchable directory.

To build something truly scalable, we decided to create an app that collects and maps mentor data from a web-based spreadsheet, managed by DWL. This way, DWL could add mentors by simply including their information on the master spreadsheet — without creating new individual pages or requiring a developer. Through the app, we created filter-based search functionality, enabling users to search for and compare mentors based on their own coaching requirements.

Big Sea also built an entirely new website for Digital Women Leaders, linking the app to populate mentor information and help users find professional guidance suited to their needs. Both the DWL team and their users applauded the redesign, citing its user-friendly search functionality and comprehensive career, specialty, and topic filters.

Developing a brand that speaks to DWL’s core audience.

Prior to the website development process, we gave the program a complete rebrand — working closely with the DWL team to create the program’s brand elements, including a new logo, illustration style, palette, typography and even their voice.