pic of Men are from Mars Women are from Venus bookYou may know the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.  The title alone says a lot about gender differences.  Of course, we know that men and women are different. That’s why we want to have both in our research studies, unless the product or interface is targeted at only one gender. Recently, this need to have both men and women represented was really brought home to us, reminding us, once again, that there really are differences between the sexes!

The study was focused on uncovering top priorities, seducible moments and pain points for people actively seeking a new or upgraded home security or home automation system. Our client had a number of topics they wanted explored. The research methodology was ethnography in the form of in-home visits with the household’s decision-makers to learn what they wanted, how they researched the offerings, and what their main decision points were.

UX Firm conducted 20 in-home visits with the requirement that half of the users be male and the other half female. Other criteria allowed for a mix of ages and ethnicities, incomes, household makeup (including some with pets), geographic, income, and education distribution. All had to have broadband Internet in their home and own a smart phone.

One of the points the client wanted us to explore with participants was their interest in and need for security cameras.

As it so happened, our first 8 visits were with women. In every case, their interest in cameras extended only so far as where they wanted them located and how many came with a package. They wanted to be able to see someone at the front and back door and sometimes inside the house. And, for several who owned pets, they had a great interest in keeping an eye on their cat or dog while they were away. When asked what type of camera she was looking for, one participant summed it up for all of the women we interviewed: “I haven’t noticed” this information.

Then we started interviewing the men. Their needs and interests were focused quite differently from the women in our study. Almost all of the men were keenly interested in the specs of the cameras, saying that they wanted the latest technology. They repeatedly said that they didn’t want to see grainy images. Several said that they wanted the camera to be able to pick up the license plate of a car parked in the driveway or at the street.

Several men commented that they didn’t like the images of the cameras on the websites of the solution providers they chose to explore, calling them “dated.” As they explored further, they couldn’t find the detailed information they wanted to know about the camera, such as the resolution, the capability to pan, tilt, and zoom for the optimal setup, and whether they had night vision or LED lights. For some, they wanted this information in plain language, not tech-speak. One user said, “I don’t know what a quad splitter is.”

Our Takeaways

If we had interviewed only women, we would have missed the essential finding that men, in many cases, wanted different information from women to help them make informed decisions about which solution providers to pursue.

We saw that most of the websites both men and women visited did not provide the information the men sought about the capabilities of the cameras in their security packages and that the images of the cameras available did not reflect the men’s desire for the latest technology.

We learned once again how important it is to have both men and women in our studies. As the popular book title reminds us, Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Vive la différence!

Image source: thesinglewomanguide.com

Carol Barnum

Carol brings her academic background and years of teaching and research to her work with clients to deliver the best research approaches that have proven to produce practical solutions. Carol’s many publications (6 books and more than 50 articles) have made a substantial contribution to the body of knowledge in the UX field. The 2nd edition of her award-winning handbook Usability Testing Essentials is now available.