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(I am aware of the simplified dichotomy, a better term would be gender character but it's a bit too vague/specific for the title of this question.)

When creating a web project, are there differences between a mostly feminine or masculine audience that a designer should consider?

For example, women are more active social users and online buyers. This might somehow be reflected in the design, if you can target these two groups and show the same page in different shapes according to their gender (female = more or bigger images of people, just to name something).

For the sake of this question, I'm imagining a web platform that is available to provide these different experiences based on gender. Also, the variables the designer can play with are design elements: images, text, color, component shapes. UX is a possible approach, but I'm thinking in termns of visual variability. What would those different themes be like?

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+50

After spending some time looking around, and comparing several sources, it seems like there aren't really that many differences. These would apply to any gender, me thinks. Still, here's my latest list:

  • Pink is a girl's color, not a woman's. Neutral tones and brown are also not recommended.
  • White space, a reserved palette, and fair pastel backgrounds work better for women (they relax the eyes without distracting from the content)
  • Simplicity and functionality over complexity and obscurity. Time is a valuable resource nowadays.
  • Sharp corners or perfect circles are not favorite picks.
  • Women are apparently more likely to create an emotional connection with the subject in a photo (use photos of people or things that generate the feels)
  • If you want to attract successful career women, use photos of successful career women.
  • Clean and clarity to create the illusion of freshness and professionalism.
  • Harmonious element placing, interfaces should be aesthetically attractive.
  • "75% of women disagreed with the statement 'men are more comfortable with tech than women'"
  • Women experience sites holistically, so it's better not to compartmentalize the interaction too much.
  • Copy should be concise but persuasive, slightly more friendly and conversational than for men.
  • Appeal to women's sense of adventure and curiosity.
  • Women have more brand friends than men, as well as more online social friends.

Sources:

2

Interesting question. You should probably start researching webshops marketed primarily at men and women, collect them together in two groups and do an analysis of properties of sites marketed at men and women respectively.

Gender stereotypes, A-hoy! : As a side note, in my country there are a lot of (physical) shops that are combinations of hardware stores and kitchenware/bath supply shops. This is really clever because women often don't find hardware stores appealing and men the same with kitchen/ bath stuff. However both genders need the products in both stores, especially if they live alone. Combining this into one shop makes it natural for a man to buy kitchen stuff and for women to buy hardware stuff. :)

  • Could you add what country you live in? This might be useful. Thanks! – Summer Aug 15 '16 at 13:36
  • I live in Norway. Clas Ohlson www.clasohlson.no is a sort of 'everything-you-could-need-in-your-home' store. Jernia www.jernia.no is pretty much a store as I described above. – HaraldCFS Aug 16 '16 at 13:08
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I would also point out color; which from a product design point a large reason someone is likely to purchase something or not. And gender along with cultural values have a lot to do with and shades of the same color are can be important in being non-gendered. Example the retailer Restoration Hardware paint colors and stores are geared toward non-gendered shades and hues to help sell their products.

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I have been looking into this, and since I can't really find any scientific studies that address this issue I am going to have to go with a very short answer:

No, there are no considerable differences. Design for humans, regardless of gender.

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There are a few (or "a lot") of things that is different when making apps or web portals for genders. For example men like to have more technical data shown in a fast manner (i.e. dimensions are shown when you hover over photo) when women tend to like animated things that zoom on the product. Guys like to have few good photos and hard data while women prefer to have bigger pictures and descriptions that tell how you will feel while using/having the product.

As you mentioned women are more active on social media so they could use "share" icons to ask/show product they want to their friends while men would like to have a link they could send to one or two friends who specialise in that field.

For example: buying PC components. Men will want to put things in basket and send a link to it while women tend to share individual items and promotions.

I would steer away from design books that say "designing for women" as they tend to show what designers WANT to show and not what women want to look at. A good source of knowledge are research papers on genders and on what they focus while looking at websites, magazines etc.

Oh, and no puppies, flowers and other women if you are not selling puppies, flowers and women ;)

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    Do you have any references for your claims? Not necessarily entirely critical but would flesh out your answer to something I can up-vote. – joojaa Aug 16 '16 at 10:47
  • justcreative.com/2008/06/16/how-to-design-for-men-and-women this one talk about differences. Unfortunately the knowledge is scattered so you need to read a lot to get a few tips. For example in a book (in polish) about Bauhaus there was a chapter about what women and men found appealing in Wassily chair. – SZCZERZO KŁY Aug 16 '16 at 11:02
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    That's ok, you can link polish books int your post. edit the references in. – joojaa Aug 16 '16 at 11:11
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    Actually, "75% of women disagreed with the statement 'men are more comfortable with tech than women'," and women in general use more smartphones. (Source: broadcastingcable.com/news/technology/…) I'm having some difficulty finding more good sources though, not much documented systematically! But it all seems to indicate that there aren't that many differences after all :) – Yisela Aug 19 '16 at 11:08

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