How a nostalgic design system propelled a nonprofit into a luxurious future

UX Design Lead and Copywriter at Baddies in Tech
Design system, UX writing, Accessibility, Social good
Figma, Notion, Jotform, Google Workspace, Zoom
Baddies in Tech design system snapshots
Volunteers at BaddieCon 2023
Volunteers at BaddieCon 2023

Black, Latinx, and Native American women make up 5% of tech

Yes, you read that right the first time. No need for a double take. Though society has made progress with fostering diversity, clearly, the problem still exists. If companies today are so focused on inclusion, why are women of color still underrepresented? Organizations like Baddies in Tech are working on combatting the lack of representation in STEM. Baddies in Tech’s mission is to double the representation of Black, Latin, and Native American (BLNA) women in tech roles to 10% by 2030.

An alien and a Barbie walk into a conference

It all started at BaddieCon. Founder of Baddies in Tech, Allie Joy Tsahey, asked me to assist with a brand refresh project for her community-focused company. Branding is my forte and I value togetherness, so I knew this would be a fruitful collaboration.

Bria Fauntleroy and Allie Joy Tsahey at BaddieCon 2023
Me [Bria] (left) and Allie Joy (right) at BaddieCon 2023.

The branding was done haphazardly and wasn’t built with scale in mind

During our discovery call, Allie Joy said this was the big problem. The company didn’t accurately address users’ pain points or adapt to different contexts. Now that Baddies in Tech is 4 years old and has grown into a global organization, it must shift priorities.

a snapshot of Baddies in Tech's old branding
Snapshot of the original branding for Baddies in Tech

I used my accessibility and organization expertise to establish the design process and build a user-centric product

Admittedly, staying on task was hard during conference season and the holidays

We used Notion for project management. This was my 1st time using the platform in depth. There was a learning curve for me. Good thing Allie Joy is a great teacher! We outlined the project brief, timeline, deadlines, and metrics.

Table of contents screen of the Baddies in Tech design system
Snapshot of the table of contents for the design system

Survey says…the struggle is real

We sent out a survey completed by 302 users. Here are insights about most users:

  • Educated women of color, age 18 – 44, based in the US.
  • Challenges faced include being a tech newbie, finding mentorship, experiencing layoffs, and leadership.
  • Joined Baddies in Tech to build community, find a job, and/or network.

Facts over fiction

We chose 6 UX artifacts that made sense based on our goals and timeline:

  • Affinity map — to find themes in the data collected from user interviews.
  • Empathy map — to understand our users on a deeper level.
  • User persona — to visualize the common user.
  • User journey map — to gain insight into user’s thoughts, behaviors, and motivations.
  • Sitemap — to organize the information architecture of the website.
  • User flow — to ensure users reach their goals in the fewest possible steps.

A new millennium

The rapidly evolving tech industry brings anxiety. Nostalgia evokes feelings of comfort and familiarity. The Y2K era held core memories for the majority of our audience. I drew inspiration from Neo-brutalism, the perfect fusion of the early 2000’s and present day, to craft the design system. It features elements like company values, typography, colors, content writing, and components.

Baddies are the target audience, but the pathway to success wasn’t paved with diamonds

For starters, refining the color palette made me want to bang my head against the wall. We went back and forth on finding the balance of Y2K and modern tech themes. The team didn’t prioritize accessibility the way that I wanted them to. Oh, and did I mention how much I loathed picking the colors?

The different color versions that didn't work

Hopes and dreams

Metrics we aim for in a year post-launch:

  • Increase website (free membership tier) conversion rate to 20%.
  • Convert 30% of free members to the paid membership tier.
  • Reduce website bounce rate.
  • CSAT Score of at least 8 out of 10.

All hail queen Bria

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