http://youtu.be/eCyw3prIWhc During my senior year at Parsons, I attended a fantastic lecture on "Designing for the Female Consumer".
The speaker was a creative from Femme Den, a design lab part of Smart Design. She presented a few case studies, walking us through the design process and sharing insights their team had discovered through the years. The big reveal of the lecture was that people had strong misconceptions about designing for women. Product development, for many of her clients, was about taking a product and modifying it:
1. Shrink it.
2. Pink it.
3. Add glitter and/or flowers.
What the Femme Den team revealed was that by researching women, they discovered insights that translated to many users groups - not just the ladies. Products with improvements specifically for women worked equally well or better for children, elderly, and sometimes even men.
One case study was a car concept they had created that was highly praised by men. They too enjoyed the larger mirrors, extra adjustable seating, and designed functionalities for attending to children while driving. During testing, the men were all enthusiastic over the improvements.
Yet, the minute the client marketed the new concept as a "car designed for women" all user groups stepped back. Men were no longer interested (it wasn't for them!) and women felt ostracized for "needing" a car specially designed for them.
Most ironically, women really didn't like the "shrink and pink" mentality presented to them. They really didn't want their cars, cell phones, or cooking appliances smaller and pink. They wanted quality and smart design, features that improved their lives and didn't trivialize it.
All this leads to a great piece I stumbled upon last night. Ellen Degeneres did a hilarious monologue on the ridiculousness of the Bic "For Her" pens. Her point of view and humor presented so much of the Femme Den team's learnings.