New Book Focuses on Gender, Design and Marketing

Gender design and marketing

Have you ever tried to have an objective discussion about design?   Do you find the conversation involves terms like "good design" "bad design" professional design" "unprofessional design"  "I like version 2"  "I prefer version C." 

Is it possible to take a subjective discussion of design and make it objective?

Do our personal preferences sway our choice of what constitutes a "good design?" 

And do men and women have different design preferences?

The answer to all of the above, apparently, is "yes." 

You can learn all about it in a new book by Gloria Moss – Gender, Design and Marketing:  How Gender Drives our Perception of Design and Marketing.

Tom Jordan was recently lamenting the lack of research into marketing to women.  Tom, meet Gloria.  Gloria, meet Tom.

Gender, Design and Marketing is based on research, research, and even more research.  it's actually the only complaint some may have about the book – there's so much research it can be a little academic sounding, but the information is so worth the read.   (Gloria Moss is a Senior Lecturer at Bucks New University and Visiting Professor at the Ecole Superieure de Gestion (ESG), Paris.)

And I understand and applaud Gloria Moss' thoroughness.  She's putting forth some game changing information that's going to ruffle some feathers.

But it's information we desperately need.   In my research and study of marketing to women online, design has been the area that's been most difficult.  I've seen definite elements that seem to be more persuasive for women, but had trouble finding research studies to back up my findings.  The best was a study done by the University of Glamorgan.  Not coincidentally, Gloria Moss was a part of that study. What fascinated me about that research was that men preferred websites designed by men and women preferred websites designed by women.

Wow - that got my attention. Especially since, at the time, the vast majority of websites were being designed by men.

Since then, Gloria Moss has scoured the landscape to find credible research on how gender affects design preferences.   She looks at gender preferences in drawing, painting, graphics and my personal favorite, web design.  She explores evolutionary, biological and social factors that play into these gender design preferences.

She often had to do her own research to find the answers to her questions.

This book will change the way you look at design

The results are a wake-up call for everyone involved in advertising and design.  I'm not talking just a little alarm clock going off.  I'm talking a gigantic gong reverberating around the globe.

As Gloria Moss says in her introduction, her research "delineates the male and female design aesthetic and shows how partial each gender is to the aesthetic associated with its own gender."

What are the differences between men's and women's design preferences?

In my own work and research, I've seen specific design elements that seem to increase conversion for women.   Yet I never had the research to confirm and/or explain those findings.   Now, I do.  I also learned a few new things.

I can't give away everything. You really need to buy and read the book, but here are a few juicy tidbits:

  • We are drawn to images of people of our own gender.

  • Men are more likely than women to create design with a technical look.

  • Women prefer rounded shapes to linear ones, and detailed surfaces to plain ones.

  • Citing a study by Franck and Rosen – "whereas male subjects drew faces in profile, female subjects drew them in full frontal position."

  • Women prefer the use of more colour, especially brighter colors. 

  • Men prefer subject matter that depicts "comparative advertising appeals."    Women prefer subject matter that depicts "harmonious relationships.

That's just a small sample of the fascinating findings.

Why understanding female design is so important

Research points to the fact that women are less accepting of male design aesthetics than men are of female design aesthetics.

"Although both men and women assign higher scores to own-sex designs compared to opposite-sex designs, men interestingly ascribed higher scores to female-designed products than the women do to male-designed products and this is further evidence of the fact that, given a choice, men have a greater tolerance of the female design aesthetic than women do of the equivalent male aesthetic."

In other words, all that male design out there in advertising is especially ineffective for women. 

I can't say enough about Gender, Design and Marketing.  If you are in advertising and you are targeting female customers, this is a must read.   Warning – this book is currently selling on Amazon for $114.95.  That is the actual price.   The UK publisher says that they publish "business and professional books" for which this is a normal price.  Even though Amazon says it is not released, the UK publisher assures me it has been released. 

That said, the book is worth twice that price. 

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30 Responses to New Book Focuses on Gender, Design and Marketing

  1. This is a very interesting post. I especially like your review of artwork and gender. My products are geared toward women and anytime that I’ve hired someone of the opposite gender to do work for me, I’ve been disappointed with their understanding of not only my product, but what is appealing to women. I have now hired women to redo many things that I once paid someone else to do. I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

  2. Interesting tidbits. I would have thought men would be more attracted to images of women than men.

  3. Holly Buchanan says:

    Rhonda – sometimes women do have an advantage if they are very similar to the target audience. The further away you are from the audience, the harder you have to work to understand them.
    Stefanie – interesting point. Images of attractive women do get men’s attention, but whether the image is effective or not depends on what you are selling.
    here’s a great article on whether sex sells – http://brandautopsy.typepad.com/brandautopsy/2005/10/sex_sells.html

  4. Hello Gloria, I bought the book after reading your comments and I was very disappointed.
    Althought the concepts are interesting enough, there is nothing more than what you just posted here. This is Table 9.1 on page 172. That’s it.
    I was looking for more tidbits, as you say, as to how a website with a female audience should be created, but… there is nothing more. There are no examples of websites, no one!, nothing on navigation or information architecture or any other differences.
    If you already think that gender has an impact, don’t bother buying the book, you won’t be more convinced. But if you want advice on how to better serve your audience, well, continue reading this blog, it is a much better investment. 🙂

  5. Oups, just called you Gloria! That Gloria Moss got to me! Sorry about that.

  6. Very informative stuff, html has come a long way since i first started out with front page, LOL now I embed all kinds of code in my website development ie: (css, java, vb, c#) next I must learn ajax!
    Thomas
    Miami Web Design

  7. haha Interesting. I’ll agree on the male going for the technical look bit, as I almost always lean towards a more clean, industrial look than something more abstract.
    Pretty steep price for a book, but I may just check it out!
    Sullivan Web Development

  8. Logo Design says:

    I have the book and it’s one of the great written books i found. Thanks for letting other knows about it.

  9. tinggi badan says:

    But it’s information we desperately need. In my research and study of marketing to women online, design has been the area that’s been most difficult. I’ve seen definite elements that seem to be more persuasive for women, but had trouble finding

  10. This book has a unique title “New Book Focuses on Gender, Design and Marketing”. This is going to be first book discussion on design and marketing a good design, bad design and professional design.

  11. Very informative stuff, html has come a long way since i first started out with front page, LOL now I embed all kinds of code in my website development ie: (css, java, vb, c#) next I must learn ajax!

  12. Think of 5-10 words that you want your business to be associated with. For example, if you want to be associated with the idea of speed and quick response, a company that’s moving forward, you might end up with a name like “Zoom Design.”

  13. This book has a unique title “New Book Focuses on Gender, Design and Marketing”. This is going to be first book discussion on design and marketing.

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  18. There’s definitely a difference when marketing to men vs. women! From design elements to copy. Key is knowing who you are marketing to in the first place!! Interesting book — maybe worth a read. Thanks for the info.

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    Not sure, jfh, 8-8 is achieved with wins over SF, DET, CHI, SEA; a loss to any, I think MM is gone wheehtr he wins against DAL, BAL, PIT, ARI, or not. Id bet if he wins out against the first four and any one of the last, TT gives him one more year. Less than 8-8 he is gone regardless. TT will not be fired, in any case, so put it down next to my initials. (Larry, Punk, or LarryTex, take your pick).As far as the draft is concerned, the best RB is Best (haha), but he might fall below 20th pick. (4) OTs projected in top 20 so we could go there, only Williams cant play LT. Campbell might slide to 13-20 but 2009 has been horrible to him re nagging injuries. You cant trade up for an OT next year; theres no Mandarich available.Who knows what OTs are available out there in FA over the winter, but Im not convinced thats our biggest need. I know it looks that way, especially when Grant and Green seem to be able to put a good one out there once in a while, but I think RB is a bigger need and my scouts would be concentrating there, from Iowa A&I Teachers College to USC. Remember, not knowing Raji would be available, I wanted Malcolm Jenkins last year. Whats he done he doesnt even start, (8) tackles and played in (6) games for NO, so dont ask me to run a team.Report this commentReplyDevil’s Advocate says:November 12, 2009 at 12:24 pmId like to see someone from the offensive line garuntee a victory. Time to put the blahs behind, step up and show some personality. Give Dallas some bulletin board matertial, let them bring their A game. Its time for the Pack to stand toe to toe and slug it out!!!!! Lets just see what they really have might be good for them to know alsoReport this commentReplyPack4life says:November 12, 2009 at 12:31 pmNow all of the Sudden TJ Lang can play RT and Brad Jones is good enough to start.TJ Lang after 10 weeks is better than Geno, Babre?? No he was better all along but MM nor Campen couldnt see it. Now Brad Jones has leaped Poppinga again very strange timing. I will give Capers that Brad Jones was hurt in training camp. The timing shows that MM feels the heat. Lose to the Bucs and presto new players and new positions. Either this will be a rousing success or colossal failure. My guess is the panic button has been pressed.Report this commentReplyDevil’s Advocate says:November 12, 2009 at 12:37 pmIts time for the players to put something on the line, besides their coaches jobs!!!! Tell the media that they are going to kick Dallas pussy ass!!!!! Tell the players across from them on game day that they are going to kick his pussy ass!!!!!! If they can win the game, theyll know how hard they will need to play every week to get where they wanna be. Theyll know how much heart and soul its going to take also, and I for one would like to see a little bit of that from them.. and them having fun playing the game would be nice to see also!!!!!Report this commentReplyLarryTex says:November 12, 2009 at 12:47 pmDA, forget the coaches jobs, I think that picture is a given. Now, if not for the coaches, the players better start playing for theyre own jobs. I suspect a big house cleaning this winter and we will not be a young team next year. Yeah, jfh, put my initials on that one too.Report this commentReplyGary M says:November 12, 2009 at 1:09 pmFrom Jason Whitlock article on 11/13

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