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She-centric site eases female newbies onto the Web

She-centric site eases female newbies onto the Web.
For women suffering from Net Newbie syndrome, a new site,, promises a cure. The three-month-old, Burlington, Vt., site helps females conquer their fears by prescribing a healthy dose of Internet immersion, along with a balanced diet of fun and fellowship.
With this philosophy in mind, the creative team scribbled outside the grey, geometric confines of the online world–combining vibrant colors, silly scrawl and a cast of new cartoon characters to help tech-shy women break through the cyber ceiling.
“There is a sea of grey out there and this was our opportunity to make it fun and tie it up in a big pink bow,” says Buffy Kelly, co-creative director for
Backed by Kelliher Samets Volk, a marketing firm also based in Burlington, is devoted to helping women make the most of the Internet by guiding them to the most effective technology, best sites and most efficient ways to work online.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity to help women bust through their frustrations with the Internet to encourage them to make the most of what it has to offer and to have fun with it,” says Sarah Finnie Cabot, founder of
More reminiscent of Toonville than Web Tech 101, the site offers tutorials on the basics of working the Web, a message board for users to exchange tips and information, an e-commerce page that offers computer accessories and a guide to the best sites.
Although company executives wouldn’t disclose exactly how much traffic SheClicks has logged since the launch, they say the site draws tens of thousands of visitors each month. The site is sticky, with about 20 percent of visitors staying for 20 minutes per day, they say.
For the most part, the woman-meets-technology site has received accolades from visitors. A fan named Lilly writes, “After putting it off and putting it off, I finally jumped in with the help of [] and can’t believe how much confidence I have gained. I am just beginning to understand how helpful being online can be for me and my family.”
The site is not without its critics, however. Some women find condescending, reinforcing stereotypes with its frou-frou colors and dumbed-down answers “They say ‘Oh, my god, it’s so stupid. You’re portraying us as dumb,’ ” admits Cabot. But SheClicks staffers defend the design and challenge the notion that an educational site has to look serious. sees itself as a partner, rather than a competitor, of all the for-women, all-about-women, I-am-woman sites that have proliferated in the past few years. “A woman who has spent time at will visit those other big- sister sites all rarin’ to go,” says Cabot, formerly programming director at
But in an industry where sites are launched virtually every minute, a niche market doesn’t stay exclusive for long. With the birth of in February,
faces stiff competition from media giant Oprah Winfrey and friends. Guided by Internet gurus, Oprah is taking a 12-part look at the online world. Her Web odyssey is unfolding on TV and online at
Oprah’s online foray hasn’t dampened enthusiasm at Currently supported by three private investors, the SheClicks team looks to generate more backing, so they can eventually start an ad campaign. In the meantime, is building a sponsorship strategy, minus banner ads. The group hopes to land affiliates and corporate sponsors, integrating the sponsorships into the site’s design. In time, the site’s cartoon characters may sport an eBay T-shirt or drink a Starbucks cup of coffee. “We don’t want to be beholden to an advertising structure,” says Linda Kelliher, CEO of “We first wanted to develop a foundation and a voice.”