For the past several months I've been doing a lot of work/research on women and design to see which design elements are most persuasive for women.
After reading Gender, Design and Marketing by Gloria Moss, I thought I'd take my new knowledge based on her book plus my own research and do a completely unscientific test at an art show.
My test was simple -look at a painting and guess whether the artist was male or female. (Then look at the caption to see if the name was male or female). The great thing about this art show was, all the paintings were the same size – so there was some uniformity, which made the research a little easier. (Rather than trying to take size, material, etc. into consideration).
I wasn't enough of a geek to keep an actual tally of how many I got right or wrong. It was a spur of the moment idea. But it felt like my success rate was better than 50/50.
Patterns in female paintings and male paintings
What was most interesting to me wasn't how often I was right, but why I was right.
In Gender, Design and Marketing, research showed that men prefer 3-D design while women prefer 2-D design. It's also well documented that men have better visio-spatial skills. Because of this, this painting just screamed "male artist" to me. (It was painted by a male)
While women often draw objects in nature, this painting also struck me as being male. The focus seems to be on the geometric lines in the sand. Straight lines and verticality are prominent in male designs. (it was painted by a male).
This one got my vote for "female artist" for a couple of reasons. It features people, and they are interacting (holding hands) and the faces are looking right at you. Gloria Moss found that men often draw faces in profile, while women draw faces looking right at you. (This was painted by a woman).
This painting features two people, but it just "felt" male to me. When I tried to figure out why – two things jumped out at me. One – the placement of the couple – it's almost as if they are not the focus since they are not centered. Also – there is no interaction. She is looking down at a book and he has his back turned towards her. (This was indeed painted by a male.)
This painting just screamed "female" to me. Yes, there is the use of pink. But look at all the wonderful curved lines. Gloria Moss found that men prefer straight lines and angles, women prefer curved lines. And it's all integrated together. The elements feel very fluid and interconnected.
Yes, this painting uses pink. But this struck me as being male. Compare it to the previous painting. The objects in this painting are very separate. Men like to compartmentalize things. Women look at things more holistically.
Now, as I said, this is completely non-scientific. But research consistently shows that women prefer items designed by women, and men prefer items designed by men. Even if you look at artwork, you can see how women incorporate design aesthetics and images that appeal to them, while men incorporate design aesthetics and images that appeal to them.
If you want to create advertising, product packaging or websites that appeal to and are persuasive for women, make sure you understand design aesthetics and images that appeal to women.
In my women friendly website review, design is one of the things I review to see if your website and advertising are using design elements and aesthetics that speak to and persuade women.
Take a look at your own advertising and marketing efforts with fresh eyes. You may be surprised at what you see.