Web Design Across the Gender Divide

Web Design Across the Gender Divide

eCommerce presents a whole host of benefits that often materialize in the form of increased earning potential. However, the online sales environment presents many challenges too—one of which is designing for a target audience.

The demographics of a website’s visitors take many factors into consideration—geographic location, gender, age, and much more. Usually, each site has its own target audience, and the design caters to that demographic.

However, demographics don’t always paint the whole picture. Take, for example, the following statics:

  • 31% of people who search for video games are men between the ages of 18 and 34.
  • 56% of people searching for sporting goods are female.
  • 45% of searches for home improvement information were conducted by women.
  • 68% of skin and body care influencers are men.
  • 40% of baby product purchases were made from households without children.

Therefore, it is important to consider the possibility that site visitors might be outside the target demographic, and creating a more all-encompassing design might be beneficial.

One of the easier ways to make a more comprehensive website design is to cross the gender divide.

The Gender Divide: Men vs. Women

It should be no surprise that men and women shop differently. One simply needs to compare a visit a sporting goods store and a craft retailer to recognize some fundamental differences in the way males and females view the world.

Consider the following:

Men Women
Men are more inclined to gamble. They’ll visit additional pages based on the information they might acquire. Women need a compelling reason to continue on. Validating the effort is important.
Men buy to meet a current need. Women want to satisfy immediate and future needs.
Men look for generic testimonials,
simply wanting to be part of a crowd.
Women want specific feedback, reassurance that someone else benefited in the exact same way she hopes to.

Designing For the Sexes

Consider the following suggestions for designing more all-inclusive websites.

  • Use gender-neutral colors. To avoid being stereotyped as a masculine or feminine site, use gender-neutral colors that have wide appeal. Colors such as green, yellow, orange and gray are all base colors that both men and women respond to, making them excellent choices for web design. Images that are presented in vintage shades of black and white, sepia tones or other muted colors are also ideal for neutral designs.
  • Focus on design elements that appeal to both genders. Women are typically drawn to softer, irregular shapes, with pastel or light color schemes. Men, on the other hand, favor hard, bold lines with dark colors. To appeal to both, include elements that will work for men and women equally. Rounded buttons, for example, will catch a woman’s eye, while the dark blue color of the button will speak to a man. Images of happy families resonate with audiences of women. Those same images presented in an infographic with sharp, clear lines can have mass appeal to both men and women.
  • Consult the opposite sex. Male designers should consult females for advice and feedback (and vice versa). Industry thought leader, Monica Cardone, pointed out that men and women approach problems differently. Consulting someone from the opposite sex could introduce new ideas and perspectives. Input from both sexes ensures a more well-rounded design.
  • Test your design with both genders. Once you have completed your design, test your site with audiences of men and women. Identify areas that resonate with each audience and ensure that each gender has something to which they can relate in the design.
  • Adjust as needed. After testing the design with men and women, make adjustments as needed. Continue adjusting and testing the design until the right level of balance has been achieved.

Neutral web designs can improve customer engagement, drive traffic and increase revenue. Ensure that your design has mass appeal to both men and women for maximum effectiveness.

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