Men and women see web pages differentlyThere is plenty of evidence that men tend to have a more accurate sense of spatial awareness than women; true there are many women that have finely-honed spatial skills, but on average men are better able to imagine things in three dimensions than women. Women, on the other hand, have a better empathy than men, often being able to detect the mood of others around them whilst men are oblivious. In fact, throughout the scientific literature you will find thousands of research papers all purporting to tell us that men and women are different. Mars and Venus and all that.

Some psychologists, though, don’t believe these differences are “natural”; instead they explain the variations we see between the genders as things which are socially constructed – girls and boys are brought up differently and therefore end up behaving differently. Whether you believe that nature or nurture is responsible for gender differences is not really worth worrying about if you run a website – after all you can’t do anything about it…! What is worth concerning yourself with, however, is that the differences do indeed exist.

Now, there is another gender difference which has been discovered – and it has a neurological basis. It appears that men and women do indeed perceive the world around them slightly differently. According to researchers from City University, New York, the presence or absence of testosterone in the foetus leads to different connections in the visual centre or the brain. The result is that men and women end up literally seeing things differently.

Men tend to discriminate close rapid movement of a visual scene whereas women tend to be able to spot subtle colour changes more easily. This could have important implications for web design. If you are aiming at a male audience you should not use subtle colour signals  to differentiate aspects of a page – whereas for a female audience this would work well.

Of course, if you are trying to reach both genders you may wish to avoid colour and flashing imagery as they are more gender specific. Oh goodness – what do you see littered throughout the web? You got it, flashing coloured images and advertising….!


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