Men Want It Fast, Women Want It All

8 things e-tailers need to know about shopping and the sexes

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The following is based on research, not sexism or prejudice of any kind. Conclusions are by nature overly general, and there are many exceptions to the following “rules” of masculine and feminine behavior. Quite simply, there really are general and stark differences in the behaviors men and women, but this fact should never be used for discrimination or other types of abuse. Also, in the following, jokes and wisecracks abound. The author apologizes in advance if you don’t find him funny and reminds you they’re only jokes.

Do you know the main demographic using your website? Is it meant to attract women, men, or both? If targeted toward a specific sex, there are some things you might need to know about how men and women use websites and approach the buying process. So take the following information, gleaned from studies and surveys, and apply it how you think best.

  1. Men want to complete the task and get on to the next task. Women want to experience the task. Guys, I know that sounds stupid, like forming a relationship with pain, but this is why women are good at taking care of you. Generally, they seem to be more thorough, which is why she’s never ready when you’re jingling your keys at the door and why you might survive getting stuck in a blizzard once you finally get out the door. (That’s a poor example. She’ll likely know there’s a blizzard coming and will protest leaving at all. Men believe they will defeat the blizzard. Women, I know this sounds stupid, but this is why men are good at killing mammoths, and why they’re good at protecting you. In the end, it’s all about taking down the beast.)
  2. On the Web, both genders agree that ease of use is the most important aspect of usability. Pose as a visitor. How easy it is to upload/download/view/purchase? However, men prize download speed over easy navigation, while women place both easy navigation and accessibility ahead of download speed. Customization was the least important to both. 
  3. Gender Differences in Web Usability Criteria

  4. Women are more holistic when shopping. They want to see and weigh all the options, want to be advised, and want to take their time making a decision. One explanation of this is that women tend to think more long term about their purchases: Will this still work in six months? Will I be able to wear this next year?
  5. Men want to get in, buy it, get out. They don’t want help unless it involves help at the checkout to speed their exit. They think of immediate need more than long-term need. It’s a very simple thought process: I want to grill some meat. My grill is old and doesn’t cook meat well anymore. I need a new grill to cook meat with, one that makes it easier to cook meat than this old one. I’ll buy a new grill, take it home, grill some meat. Meat grilling problem solved. Women want to know if the grill is easy to clean, if the buttons still work when summer rolls around again, if it looks good in the yard, if you can steam vegetables in it. 
  6. Male and Female Purchase Strategy

  7. Men like coupons because it narrows the choices and provides clear-cut incentive to buy one particular thing they can go in, buy, and get out with. (Think: There is animal. Animal is dead. Now go home, show female, eat animal.)
  8. Women prefer sales for exactly the opposite reasons. Sales present many options with many different benefits to many different people other than the woman shopping and the right product is its own reward. They form relationships with the products and then decide which relationship works out best. (Think: There are lots of different berries, nuts, herbs. Some are poisonous. Some make the baby sick. Some go bad quickly. Some are at the top of the mountain and are dangerous to get. Some cost a goat. But this one is good for everybody, is safe to eat and gather, doesn’t cost a goat, and will last through winter.)
  9. When it comes to photos, women focus on faces and pay special attention to pictures of couples entwined. Men, as in real life, focus on, well, other parts and don’t give any special attention to couples. Depending on hormone levels, though, women may also focus on, well, other parts.
  10. Here’s something men and women generally agree: the color blue. In one survey, 42 percent of people (35 percent of women, 57 percent of men) listed blue as their favorite color. Women’s other favorite color was purple, which actually factored significantly on men’s least favorite color list, right up there with brown and orange, the least favorite colors of everyone. In a fascinating twist, people seem to like more blue and less green as they get older. Green seems to be a young person’s color.
  11. Favorite Color

How can you use this information when designing your website? Hold on to that question. The first question is about identifying your target market. Is it young men? Your site should fast, simple, easy to understand, and whatever other usability concern one needs to address to make using the site as quick and painless as possible.

Don’t worry too much about relationships. Men want just as much relationship as is required to successfully complete a transaction. (You don’t want to be friends with the mammoth or think about mammoth orphans when you kill it, you know?) Men like blue, and prefer objects over people, unless the people are naked. A naked girl flipping burgers on a grill against a blue sky and green grass backdrop? Perfect. Now add verbiage emphasizing how quick and easy the check out process is.

This may be why women make 85 percent of purchase decisions. (This is also why women think men are insensitive Neanderthals and don’t believe us when we say we were thinking about nothing. Ladies, it is possible to think about nothing at all, I promise. But it’s not insensitivity. We just have no task before us, and without a task our brains shut down. It’s an efficiency thing, which we’re sure you wouldn’t understand, either. ;-D) 

It’s also why, unless your website is very niche, that when you design a site for general use, you’re really designing a site for women. If you can make it fast and easy, and leave out the purple, men will like it, too. Mint.com grew by 20 percent just by making the site more women-friendly. 


Men Want It Fast, Women Want It All
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  • http://asmarketing.wordpress.com Affordable Search

    Knowing a little bit about what the differences of what men want and women is an invaluable knowledge. This information on usability can be utilized on your web site to get result. Great primer on gender differences for eCommerce habits online.

  • http://twitter.com/aks2008 Aswani

    Very interesting and engaging article. I too agree to most of the things mentioned in relation with the women and their buying behavior over net. Women are just wonderful creature :)

  • http://www.internetmarketingtip.us Guest

    Thanks for sharing this information about some of the differences between men and women. It helps me understand better why my blogs have more active women commenters and my sales pages tend to make more sales to men.

    Gotta share this article with my readers.

  • http://stararmy.com Scifi Roleplay Forums

    This was a great read because it was not only informative but humorous. I think the author struck a perfect tone and I also learned some things! I will definitely be going over my website and looking for ways to make it friendlier to women and faster.

    I think good wbsite design boils down to three main factors:

    – Efficiency (can the user accomplish his/her goal as quickly and painlessly as possible?)
    – Aesthetics (Does the site look good and convey a professional, eye-catching and pleasant image?)
    – Utility (How useful is the website in the long term? Does it have constantly fresh content? Archives? What things can people do with the site?)

    On the color blue – Other studies show that blue encourages creativity – so by having blue on your website, you get that benefit plus making it friendly to the maximum number of people. My site has been very blue (colored) since around 2004 for these reasons.

  • http://www.google-conquest-reviews.com Google Conquest

    Being in retail as a salesperson, this helps quite a bit!

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com Official Safety and Security

    Jason, I really enjoyed your article! I was a little surprised that men like coupons. I always thought they hated those things; you know the whole clipping and carrying them to the store, too much detail. Anyway, as a web site owner of safety and security products such as non-lethal weapons, men between the ages of 25 to 35 seem to be my target demographic but I have lots of women of all ages shopping at my store too. I will keep some of your tips in mind. Thanks for being informative AND entertaining!

    • Jason Lee Miller

      Thanks for the kind words. I was a bit surprised by the coupon thing too, but using my male self as an example, I prefer coupons over sales…rather, I prefer A COUPON over sales and lots of coupons. I got the one coupon, it’s for a really good deal on something I want. I go in, get the discount, leave with my new thing.

      But juggling an envelope full of coupons for a bunch of random junk my wife says we need? No way. I’d rather clean the gutters or something. Besides, she likes snipping and organizing and especially seeing the receipt that says all the money she saved us buying stuff, so I say let her do it. I’m more of a panic and spend shopper myself, which drives her crazy. :-)

  • R. Hiebert

    It’s possible that it depends on the product but here’s a list of myths I’ve learned and are barriers:
    1. Women aren’t informed of care about car stuff.
    2. It’s not worth my time to attempt to sell car care products to women. Men make most decisions related to cars.
    3. Women are interested in convenience so let their mechanic use what he has in stock.
    4. Women don’t trust the sales guy because they assume I’m trying to swindle them.
    5. Women still believe in the 5,000 mile oil change; they don’t know the difference between synthetics and petroleum motor oils.
    6. Women are price conscious and don’t want to pay for higher priced products.
    7. Women are afraid to try some new and different from what they aren’t familiar with.
    8. Qualifying Truth: These may apply to some men as well.

  • http://www.maverickwinners.com BB

    This is by far the best article I have read. And, no joke!

    Instructive, data we can use, so well written (I know, I’m a newbie and have written 5 articles so far with sweat and headaches as I’m French), and with humour.

    I personally do not find anything wrong with the jokes that for me are not joke, just an humoristic, colorful way of bringing home the data. Not over done. Maybe if I would have read it in my thirties… but I doubt it. Got 5 brothers… So, the male-female thing don’t phase me. I am able to put those things in perspective. All this to say, I don’t find anything offensive either.

    And all the graphics and all: I’m impressed! I don’t know how to do these things. Remember, me, newbie…

    I’ll check my email for more of these…

    I already get the email, please do not send duplicates, I’m overloaded as it is. Thanks!

    P.S.: Excellent Jason! From a 58 years old and Internet newbie woman.

  • http://www.ShepherdSlayer.com/ Dave

    You did not even start your article before droning out some JohnnyRocker-MelGibson apology crap for a bunch of closed-minded sheep who fear nothing quite as much as the truth. If people cannot take a joke, fnck ‘em! Maybe it is time they wake up and grow some balls

    You’ve got a lot of talent, dude

  • Tiffany Doughty

    Women want everything? No surprise there. And I totally agree.

  • Rosemary

    Best article on web design ever … no really, I mean it … EVER! And by the way, thanks for being considerate enough to all readers to take a moment to apologize in advance and explain enough to set the tone. Although I didn’t need it, I think that your thought to do it, is just one more indicator why you are a master communicator. You will always run circles around those poor sods that think an “in your face approach” will work. Don’t know why common courtesy enrages them so much.

  • http://www.freewarebb.com/ Freeware

    Oh holy crap, I can’t believe you summed me up so easily and so well!. Seriously though, this is a great article, the likes of which go a long way to help determine what to and what not to include or omit from our website plans. Thanks.

  • Rosemarie

    Given the choice, most men would rather not shop at all! Which is why the women end up having to suss out all the bargains. Believe me, I do not enjoy having to buy all my husbands clothes, gifts for his family on birthday’s, xmas and mothers day.

    Admittedly, I do enjoy browsing for the things I want to buy and would definitely choose a website that offers ease of use and enough information to assure me that I will not be making a repeat purchase of the same item when the product breaks in a couple of weeks. It is precisely because we don’t have the time to waste making wrong decisions that us women are so thorough in the first place.

    Also, why would I need to get my other half to kill that mammoth, when I’m sure that I can already get one on special somewhere, already skinned, frozen, and cut into convenient manageable chunks ;)

  • http://www.melbourneonline.com.au/ecommerce-online-stores.asp Mark – Melbourne ecommerce

    Great article but those stats in point 2 are pretty close. To be an accurate representation the sample size would need to be huge. Do we know how many males and females were surveyed?
    Great humour throughout – Next time my girlfriend keeps me waiting on the way out the door I’ll remind myself that I’m better at killing mammoths :)

  • http://daxii.com Daxii

    I’ve done a similar study in France with similar results.

  • http://www.wantitall.co.za Justin (Online Shopping)

    I have been running an online store (http://www.wantitall.co.za) for quite a while. With our initial design we didn

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Adam

    It’s interesting how this research so closely maps online shopping to high street shopping. With high street shopping I just want to get whatever I need and get out the shop as soon as I can. It’s pretty much the same with online shopping – I just want the thing ordered quickly so I can forget about it until it’s ordered.

    The fact about the colour blue is interesting too – it tends to be easier on the eye than most colours on computer screens. Blue and white tend to be a good match for online shop colours.

  • http://ebook-site.com Bryan Quinn

    An interesting and informative article. I have tried several color variations for different websites and for me, blue is probably the best choice for my requirements. One other interesting point I have found but I’m unsure how much difference it makes, is spelling. Because English US is more widely used across the globe than English UK, I generally use English US for .com sites and English UK for .co.uk sites or for .com sites with mostly UK traffic. I’m not sure what relevance this has to this article but would be interested in any differences between men and women. Who would consider ‘colour’ as a spelling error and who would know it was English UK. I would favor (favour) women to know the difference. Of course, I could be completely wrong.

  • http://ripsychotherapy.com Mike A.

    Guess I’ll be changing my color theme from green to blue. Thanks.

  • http://www.seoeffect.net e turundus

    Did the research touched the subject of which color combinations work well with different genders?

  • http://www.success-stream.com Stacy Karacostas

    LOVE this article Jason! I’m always fascinated by people’s shopping habits both online and off. I worked in retail for years and even designed some store displays and fixtures, as well as store layouts. I learned back then there are even differences in how men and women prefer clothing displayed.

    Now I help people plan their Websites and wrote a book called The Small Business Website Bible (http://smallbusinesswebsitebible.com) to help entrepreneurs get sites that sell. After reading your article, I realize I left out an important chapter. Guess I’m going to have start in on an update.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Stacy Karacostas
    Practical Marketing Expert

  • http://www.firmalatter.dk/latterkurser-og-workshops/latterkursus.htm Ejvind

    It has been known for centuries that there is a difference between men and women. And even if we do generalize, it is good to keep that difference in mind. For a while it has been as if women tried to take on the mens jobs as well, but fortunately they haven’t succeeded altogether – it would make us obsolete.

    Now thanks to this study, we can also see that men and women are acting differently on the interent. It’s very interesting, and maybe we’ll even see som CMS’s that will be able to know the difference between a man searching and a woman? Wouldn’t that be cool.

  • Guest

    Yes. In your commissioned efforts to make sense of the thought process employed by anyone in making and taking any choice whatsoever, why not consider Body Language: Fact or Fiction by Leo Hunter (recently published)? It’s revealing, in terms of gender differences in making and taking choices regarding any issue whatsoever.

  • Guest

    Well fruitcake, despite your best efforts and disclaimer, you failed.

    As a man I was offended by the constant put downs and representation as a brain dead knuckle dragger.

    Men want to get the task done quickly and move onto the next task. There ya go, done, so why the mammoth crap?

    I didn’t want experience your emasculated insecurities, thanks, I just wanted the info….


  • http://www.thepleasuresallmine.com Guest

    Good post i may adopt some of the above information. Thanks

  • http://www.bingolingo.com Anthony Wayne

    I always like hearing about how women shop online versus men. In the design of our internet bingo site http://www.bingohouse.com , for instance, we tried to appeal to women since women play bingo more often. The color used: purple. Interesting project because we are all men who work on the site. Now, we are bringing up a site for gay men. The problem is that we are all straight men. What color do you think gay men like? I guess the best thing to check out is gay portals and see what colors are used.

  • http://www.palmspringsdreamhomeraffle.com UpDog

    You got it. I want to make it happen. I brag about how fast I can find, buy, and move on. The only thing better than fast is fast on my phone (faster, I don’t have to go anywhere).

  • http://www.bellajewelz.com Bella Jewelz

    I change my webpage color from time to time and I notice green and red get me the best results.

    What about pink? It wasn’t mentioned on the graph.

  • http://www.writtenbysumer.com Michelle Salater

    I agree that women definitely think more long-term when they purchase something! We like to know we’re going to get a lot of use out of the products we purchase.

    In regards to the entire analysis, I think it’s fairly accurate for the most part, however, I can think of exceptions for all of them. I know a lot of men who look at long-term when purchasing products, but I probably know more who don’t. That goes for all of the above situations.

    Great article!

  • http://www.dogseizures.net Sam@dogseizures.net

    A very interesting article. I agree with all of the contents especially with the color. In color, man feels more masculine if things are associated with the color blue. Well in attitude, men are usually short tempered people that’s why they want to decide as quick as possible.

  • http://www.divamarketingblog.com Toby

    Very interesting. Was this part of one study or several? Could you please post the source/s? Thanks.

  • http://ultimateebookstore-ultimateebookstore.blogspot.com/ James

    This is so true in grab and go. The other half look at everything in the store.

  • http://morganservice.net Don Morgan

    Interesting research on the colors. I just raised this question the other day with some friends about website colors. Timely info…Thanks. Good article.

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