SXSW Interactive Review: Designing Experiences for Women

By Stephanie Milam

As mentioned in last week’s post, On Your Mark had its eyes on several SXSW Interactive talks, including a few about women and the digital world. Of these, Designing Experiences for Women presented by Jessica Ivins and Brad Nunnally proved to be quite compelling to us as experts on women. While we have been aware of the gaping holes in marketing to women, Ivins and Nunnally provided great design and marketing mantras for those trying to reach a female audience. Below are a few of our favorites:

  • “When marketing to women, emphasize benefits over features or specs – how can your product enhance her life?”
  • “If you don’t do research, you’re guessing what customers want. With research, customers tell you what they want.”
  • “Don’t stereotype your audience, understand them.”

An interesting example Ivins and Nunnally used to show design-gone-wrong for female users is online dating sites such as One of the biggest frustrations for women is the overwhelming communication received from men – both in number of messages and content. Instead of being a safe place to meet people with similar interests and goals, it can become yet another arena in which to be badgered. The websites therefore do not meet the online-dating need of women to have comfortable communication.

While it’s important for designers to make things user-friendly and engaging for women, they can’t completely forget the men when their product or service is marketed to both genders. By going too far femme, they risk alienating or even emasculating the male audience. Through online dating site, only women can initiate communication because men are not allowed to search through profiles. Feedback from Ivins and Nunnally’s audience on Twitter indicated many of the men would never use, and some women said that they wouldn’t expect men to want to try this online dating site either.

@vdyej Anyone know a self-respecting man who would sign up for dating #herway? Doubt it. #designwmn

To reach an appropriate balance of incorporating the needs and preferences of both genders, Ivins and Nunnally recommend – what else – research! The most important thing marketers and designers can do to successfully reach their customers/audience is to understand them.


One response to “SXSW Interactive Review: Designing Experiences for Women

  1. Pingback: Mid Year Blog Recap | On Your Mark Research

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