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FutureNow Article
Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008

Is the New Marketing to Women Through Design?

By Jeff Sexton
August 27th, 2008

mint before afterThe best marketing to women experts will tell you that marketing to “women” as a generalized category is usually less than ideal. It’s not about marketing to women, it’s about the female customer, and about seeing her real. And that means NOT marketing to a stereotype, which is something that I couldn’t agree with more.

But then where does that leave broad-based gender differences and reality-based demographic information?  For instance, women make or influence 85% of all consumer purchasing decisions and control the finances in 53% of US households. Actually, to me, that last statistic seems low. If “controlling the finances” means balancing the checkbook and paying the bills, I’d bet far more than 53% of the household finances are controlled by women, either way, that’s a lot of checking accounts in female hands.

And that brings me to the new redesign.  Bryan Eisenberg turned me on to Patrick Sullivan’s analysis of both the old and new websites over at his Edit Weapon blog. Great stuff to be sure, and his analysis turned me onto a miniature (and admittedly non-scientific) trend: most guys I talked to didn’t like the new mint redesign as well as the old (beloved) website.  And yet the new site was outperforming the old site by 20% according to some accounts. What gives?

Well to me it seemed reasonable to believe that the new site might be preferred by and outperforming with female visitors rather than the tech-centric guys I was talking to. And in taking a closer look at the design, it seemed as if it lined up with some well-known broad-based gender preferences.

My guess is that guys prefer the old site because of the design cues and because of the buying mode they’re likely to be in when they are not in charge of a family’s finances. The old site:

  • seemed dark even when it wasn’t,
  • immediately directed your eye to bottom line benefits, and
  • made it easy to either “Just Do It” or “Learn More”

All of these things seemed like they would appeal to faster decision makers who had a bit less (emotionally) on the line. The old site promised to “Put your finances on autopilot,” which is definitely a non-budgeted guy thing.

Comparatively, the new site:

  • has a decidedly friendlier, lighter, and more open feel to it
  • doesn’t harshly direct your eye, but lets you gather the information as you wish
  • provides immediate credibility clues through prestigious magazine endorsements underneath the headline.
  • explains HOW and WHY mint can accomplish great things for you within the first paragraph – and does so without visually “shouting” at you.
  • lets visitors go beyond just “Learn More” to learn about benefits of concern to someone who has to handle a family’s budget or finances: “all your accounts in one place,” “easy budgeting tools,” “Find Instant Savings,” etc. Yes, this requires more brain power or emotional investment to navigate, but it’s clearly more compelling if you’re the one trying to stretch a family budget.
  • Replaces “Put your finances on autopilot” with “How mint can help you live a richer life,” which – when you think of richer in it’s more suggestive or emotional connotations – also seems more broadly appealing to females in charge of the family finances.

So my question is, so you guys and gals also find this to be the case? Do your female friends prefer the new mint while your male friends prefer the old? Do you think my analysis is on-target or am I somewhat biased?

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Comments (18)

  1. Enjoyed the article. I need a lot of work on my website; I realize that more and more everyday. I know I am not appealing to all 4 groups of shoppers, but I am fixing to add reviews and request past customers for their opinions of the items they have ordered. So that will help down the road.

    I also watched the webcast on Patrick Sullivan’s analysis of That was good too. Video is always good for me. I know FutureNow used to do a good bit of webcasts in the past, is this something ya’ll have stopped doing?

  2. Actually, FutureNow has a webcast today we’re doing in conjunction with Google. It’s the second in our Always Be Testing webinar series that parallels and expands ideas in our recent book of the same name (available on — surprise! — You might just be able to register to see it by going to:

    If don’t manage to catch it today, we will be putting the video up on our site shortly after it’s completed

  3. Great post and a reality check. People aren’t stereotypes and you have to target your efforts more on the actual quality of your content than making it flowery. At the end of the day, that’s what we all want regardless of our gender.

  4. First thought: They’ve done a great job.
    Will have to give it a closer look.

  5. has a very friendly interface and it is not necessary a “male” or “female” design.

  6. It’s probably worth noting (whether you’re targeting females or males), that a Moss, Gunn and Heller (2006) analysis of 60 personal websites found significant aesthetic differences between male- and female-designed websites, and that both women and men demonstrated a preference for websites designed by their own genders.

  7. The new design of looks pretty good; I agree it is an improvement; although I still think the old one was pretty good as well. Where I think falls flat on their face is not in getting people to be interested and wanting to sign-up but getting it to work. I tried it myself and had a pain trying to get it to work with my specific banks even though it said it supported them. I also have spoken with several co-workers who had similar problems; we all eventually gave up and stopped using it because of poor customer service and support which is virtually non-existant. I think its just a reminder that no matter how well we market our websites if the back-end product and service is not in-line with what we are portraying it will have an even more negative impact than if we came to the website expecting poor service, etc.

  8. I found it very good to read that marketing for women is not thinking stereotypical. If you do that it will fail.
    I agree with Amanda, I don’t think it is male or female design.

  9. I think the top 80% of their new page is A+; however, the bottom 20%, cyan on cyan? Isn’t there some webmaster rule somewhere that text should be easy to read? When the foreground and background are the same color, it screams hard to read to me. =)

  10. [...] 是不是说我们需要为男女设计不同的网页?No,只需要more female-friendly,曾经有网页因为照顾了一下女同胞,销量提升20%。Amazon卖kindle还针对男女设计了不同的界面……汗。还有很多很有趣的数据,自己看吧。 [...]

  11. I think that this analysis is too much focused on genders. People are different, not just women and men.

  12. Internetiturundus,

    I think my opening paragraph adequately communicates my own concerns about stereotyping based on gender, and indeed I have written many other posts on what I regard as a better alternative to that: persona- and temperament-based writing.

    That said, gender differences – and indeed gender preferences – DO exist. And I believe that the new website more nearly matches female gender preferences than the old site, which seemed more male-oriented to me. Not saying this is the end-all and be-all of analysis when it comes to the new website, but it is certainly one angle worth looking at.

    - Jeff

  13. [...] Should you build a male site and female site with different colors, copy, imagery, products, navigation and page load speed? Of course not. It’s important to optimize for fast loading pages and logical, usable navigation for everyone. But you should look at your site and ask if your design and content decisions were made with bias. Personal finance site’s redesign boosted performance by 20%, and Future Now’s Jeff Sexton suspects it’s because the new design is more female-friendly. [...]

  14. Yes they are targeting women.Great idea.

  15. The new site is outperforming the old site by 20%. So, different genders or not, it works and that`s the most important thing there, great job.

  16. Actually, FutureNow has a webcast today we’re doing in conjunction with Google. It’s the second in our Always Be Testing webinar series that parallels and expands ideas in our recent book of the same name (available on — surprise! —

  17. The new design of the website looks an improvement over the old. It seems to feature less square blocks and is easy on the eye. The overall look and feel seems to convey a sense of “easy” and “simple”, over “techy” and bottom line benefit. It encourages you to explore visually rather than textually. Nice job.

  18. fast loading pages and logical, usable which is virtually non-existant. to optimize for navigation I think its just a reminder that no matter how well improvement over the old. It seems to feature less square blocks and is easy on The overall look and feel seems to convey the eye.

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Jeff is a Persuasion Architect, Web copywriter, blogger, and instructor of FutureNow's Persuasive Online Copywriting workshop. Follow Jeff Sexton on twitter

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