In this unusually quirky and informative guest article Kelly Erickson* goes through some tips and examples on how to design for men and women – showing how to win them over and get referrals at the same time. A really unique article that I would highly recommend to read. – Jacob Cass.
The Sticky Realisation That We Are Not All the Same
“I am not young enough to know everything.”
When I was younger, I never wanted to believe in gender differences. Okay, beyond the obvious. To think that women can’t play pro ball, that men can’t enjoy an art gallery, that men can’t be good listeners, that women can’t learn where their carburetor is? No, I did not like that idea at all. I’m firmly in the post-feminist generation, believing that when we start treating our kids as plain “kids” from birth, these differences will recede.
It pains me deeply, but the older I get the more I realise there are some differences in how men and women fundamentally see the world.
As designers, we’re going to have to deal with these differences if we want to get the most business from our clients. Who doesn’t want that?
Designing for the Ladies:
Stories, Details, Design
1. Women want visuals that remind them of themselves, on their best day.
Women want visuals that remind them of themselves, on their best day whether its a house, a car, or a model. Accept us: We buy from people who know how we live. We don’t have time for aspiring to future perfection we can never reach.
2. Women want stories that draw them in.
For the ladies you are going to need more content in that website or ad you’re designing. Give us concrete details we can related to: When we see or hear about Suzie’s problem that your product or service solved, we look for connections to our own issues. Connect and you’ve got a customer.
3. Women want value now and over time.
You’ve heard it a million times: “I got it for half what so-and-so paid, and I’ve had it for three years now with no problems at all!” Now and over time. It’s a tall order, but you must offer an answer for now that is also going to hold up over time. It’s not just for a product, either. That website you’re working on—if women don’t see the value on the first page they hit, they’re gone. They’re not looking for some interior page that may reward them (see #1), because you didn’t meet the value-now threshold. If the value’s there, however, they may just read it all (see #2).
4. Women love to share with others.
Remember this: Word-of-mouth is for helping the friend we’re talking to, not the business we’re talking about. Get personal with us, and we’ll chat about you. Remember our kids, our dog, our favorite charity. If you really want our help spreading the word, give us little touches that are worth discussing, and make sure we know that your business (or your client’s) can solve our friend’s problems, too.
Designing for the Gentlemen:
Proof, Immediacy, Ambition
1. Men want visuals they can aspire to.
Why do think sex sells? The house they’re not in yet, the hobby or the vehicle they can’t afford, the model who’d never blink in their direction. Men are looking to the future, and in that future she’ll be winking his way. Show that you understand their unique ambitions. And that website? If they’re half-convinced and half-intrigued, men will click through, looking for the payoff. Appeal to their sense of adventure and exploration in real life and online.
2. Men want proof, pure and simple.
Detailed stories are going to be skimmed for evidence that the herd has been this way. If you can say that 100,000 people per year use your product or service, great. If 52 people a day give you a call, you might not mention that they don’t all end up buying. If numbers are not in your favor, then go for testimonials. Prove that others like what you’ve got, whether on a package design, an ad, a website, or a brochure.
3. Men make purchases now, for their now needs.
Itch=scratch. Sell to a man quickly, visually, with awesome benefits that provide the Ideal Solution. Don’t worry men about future value, which they are not thinking about at the time of their purchase. Men are just as busy as the ladies, and the future is just so… future.
4. Men love bragging.
Word-of-mouth is for discussing the elephant they bagged. Make yours remarkable, because men don’t give recommendations as easily as women. Here’s a secret: Get personal with men, too. They love being engaged, singled out, and surprised. Remember their family, their hometown team, or their hobby. Exceeding their expectations is part of what makes your elephant stand out from the others.
But I’m Designing for Everybody!
Okay, first of all, maybe you’re not. Take some time with this. Carefully imagine that one Ideal Customer. Flesh him or her out, and you may discover you should not be designing for both sexes, after all. Trying to please everybody is not always the best idea.
Well, lets’ say you’ve narrowed it down to young, hip graphic designers (for instance 🙂 ), and you aren’t going for a male or female audience. How do you keep everyone’s attention? Editor’s note: Write about all three?
1. Keep your visuals strong, positive, and make emotional connections.
Don’t go too over-the-top, you’re going to turn some people off. Keep the visuals clean. We are all easily distracted for our own reasons, and if your package or your page is too cluttered to read and make sense of, we’ll move on in a hurry. Focus the visual message.
2. Write the story in an active voice.
Describe the kinds of situations where the product or service is essential, and provide proof that other buyers agree. A well-chosen picture is worth a thousand words. Either the story or the proof may be more memorable in a photo.
3. We all want benefits.
From visuals to headlines to body copy, tell me what’s in it for me. Remember men and women want different benefits, so include appeals to both immediate and long-term needs. As the designer you may not be writing this copy but only arranging it. First, make sure the copy you’re given covers these needs. Then break things up: Use of subheads, bullet points, numbered lists, callouts, and bold type within the story. Maybe not all at once; that violates Everybody #1.
4. Call it sharing, call it bragging.
We all want to spread the word. Be remarkable. Be valuable. Demonstrate it in your graphic design. Exceed our expectations. When it comes to personal interactions, especially after the sale, delight us.
If this is work for a client, you may think that’s outside your field. Now is the time for you to exceed expectations—if you’ve thought of clever ways for your client to remain engaged with customers after your incredible work gets them the sale, talk about tie-ins with them. From thank-you notes to member websites to gifts for the wife of a top customer, if you’ve got an idea, share it. That idea may be where your next job comes from.
What are your thoughts after reading this article? Do you design differently when designing for men or women?
*About Kelly Erickson: Kelly is the owner of VisionPoints, The Experience Designers and she is “obsessed with your success.” You can read more writings about Experience Design at the Maximum Customer Experience Blog.