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November 1, 2011
The Three-Screen Woman: Designing Online for Women
 
A new smartphone is flaunting its design; this one is pretty in plum. The HTC Rhyme isn’t 4G-compatible like other smartphones at the same price point, but never fear. A goddess-like spokesperson reassures that the smartphone is “All from one. All for you.” The “you” she refers to is women consumers. 
 
What’s wrong with marketing to women? Female shoppers flex their economic muscle with 83% of all purchasing decisions in their grasp. Also in their possession are three tools for social commerce: smartphones, tablets and laptops. Yet for all of their purchasing power, three-screen women are met with design that is tuned to gender-specific marketing stereotypes. Women-oriented websites are bathed in pastels. Frill is featured over function.
 
Designing for three-screen women is different. Respecting their differences can create a more consumer-focused brand.
 
Design Hierarchy Meets Consumers’ Needs
Design hierarchy loses its power of persuasion when it is influenced by gender-specific marketing stereotypes. Women consumers approach brands with needs. According to Fast Company Co.Design'sWomen Dominate the Global Market Place,” prioritizing these needs by gender or age can trigger a marketing misstep:
 
“Moving from traditional ‘life milestones’ to chosen ‘life stages,’ women no longer have a single path that defines them.”
 
When design hierarchy does not mirror women consumers’ needs, it becomes impossible for female shoppers to enjoy brand experiences. Instead of shopping platforms that are based upon assumptions, three-screen women travel in search of brand experiences designed for them.
 
Travel with Her
The checkout line is no place for good-byes. Three-screen women’s smartphones, tablets or laptops can be your connection to them after conversion. Designing multi-platform brand experiences can catapult the consumer-brand relationship from screen to screen. With 92% of women consumers spreading brand evangelism, companies need to travel with women consumers and meet their social circles.
 
Design Rituals
Women consumers are 18% more likely to connect with fun retailers, according to Motista. Brands that hope to enchant three-screen women design brand experiences as rituals and places of escape. Every day, consumers wait for their home design fixes from One Kings Lane. The flash deal site steps beyond other salemail offerings with lush get-inspired editorials, tag sales from design tastemakers and social commerce. One Kings Lane’s design does not speak to women consumers’ hormones. The website speaks to all shoppers’ love for home design without condescension.
 
Strong Enough for Men, Made for Three-Screen Women
Condescension is still pervasive in gender-specific marketing. Although women consumers have unquestionable purse power in typically male-oriented industries such as consumer electronics, automotive, and sports, some brand designs say otherwise. Every brand design must answer the same question for women and men consumers — Does it work? With women facing more financial strain, brands have to fight for women consumers’ dollars and space in their three-screen worlds. Functionality must be woven throughout brand design, not placed in the footnotes.
 
Designing for today’s three-screen women is different. Female shoppers have the same exacting standards as do men. There is a slippery slope between marketing to women as the worlds’ most influential consumers and marketing to a monolithic bloc. Design can never be all for one. When it comes to turning on three-screen women, design has to be for all of us. 

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Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa is Founder and Creative Director of PixInk, a San Francisco-based design microagency serving a macro niche: businesses marketing to women, who drive 83% of purchase decisions. She nurtures emerging brands and strengthens iconic ones through powerful design, insight, and a deep understanding of the female shopper. PixInk's microagency structure works extremely well for iconic yet nimble brands such as Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Cat Footwear, Riverbed, Camel, Sephora, and Picaboo, among others.


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