I'm talking strictly usability, not UX as a whole: Is there a measurable difference between men and women? Can it happen that elements of a website work well for men but don't work for women or vice versa?

Please note: I'm aware that there are several similar questions on ux.se but this one is strictly about usability, not gender specific preferences like speed vs. ease of use etc.

  • Interesting question, I'll be following up on this one. Mar 26, 2012 at 12:53
  • Yes, as per this question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/17808/… Did you have a more specific question? The other was also specifically about usability results.
    – Ben Brocka
    Mar 26, 2012 at 13:06
  • @BenBrocka Yes I've seen this question. The title sounds exactly like what I wanted to know, but the question itself is about "comparing reactions of men and women to interaction patterns or information architecture" and the answers are accordingly. My question is about success rates, not preferences or reactions.
    – Phil
    Mar 26, 2012 at 13:42
  • 3
    The one to watch for is colour blindness. There are big gender differences on this: "In Australia, for example, it occurs in about 8 percent of males and only about 0.4 percent of females". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_blindness
    – PhillipW
    Sep 27, 2012 at 11:16
  • Just out of curiosity: why would you like to know? Sep 27, 2012 at 11:51

3 Answers 3


Here is a brief synopsis of a paper I found which says NO

  1. Gender Preferences in Web Design:Usability Testing through Eye Tracking


A bricklet is a smallwindow with specific useful information that makes the navigation faster and easier for a user (e.g., important notices and/orlinks to frequently visited website). The main purpose of bricklets is to bring important information to the attention of a user.

The Hypothesis :

While many factors can influence the effectiveness of bricklets, in this study we focus on the effects of background color and image and investigate whether these factors can affect the noticeability of bricklets by male and female users

H1) Female participants will notice bricklets with pictures of people more than males.

H2) Female participants will notice bricklets with a light color background more than males.

The findings

  1. The analysis of the self report survey showed that male users found the bricklets withpictures significantly more appealing than those without pictures. The paired t-test did not show a significant difference in thevisual appeal of the bricklets with or without pictures for women. Similarly, the pair t-tests did not show a significantdifference in self reported noticeability of the bricklets with or without pictures for men and women. These results do notsupport hypothesis one

  2. Hypothesis two proposes that female users, more than male users, will notice the bricklets with the lighter background color.The paired t-test did not show a significant difference in fixation (stares longer than 300 ms) between male and female users looking at the bricklets with dark and light backgrounds.


The results did not show any significant difference between the genders with regards to the number of times they fixated on the bricklets. Nor did the results of fixation analysis show any significant differences between men and women in regards to bricklets with different background color

However In a recent usability survey, researchers from Southern Illinois University found that after ease of use, men prefer fast download speed to easy navigation. Women prefer ease of use, easy navigation, and accessibility. The researchers hypothesize that these different usability criteria are due to differences in how men and women use the Web.

enter image description here

  • 7
    That's a pretty 3D graph, but what does it mean? What does the y-axis (Beta) signify? Were the differences statistically significant? Were gender differences a better predictor of web usability criteria than the other factors the study looked at (computer anxiety, innovativeness, and computer self-efficacy)?
    – jlstrecker
    Mar 30, 2012 at 18:33
  • The first study is a specific study about a very specific interface component. As such it doesn't support the idea that there are no aspects of usability that don't have gender differences, so it's not really helpful to include it.
    – kastark
    Sep 27, 2012 at 10:39
  • @dhmholley What the first study does demonstrate is ... well, that whatever the differences are in the usability needs of males and females, they can't be derived from gender stereotypes (women like pictures of people better?... really? that was the hypothesis?)
    – Justin
    Nov 28, 2012 at 7:36
  • I don't know about usability issues and sex difference, but I do know that psychologists tried to measure sex differences for decades, and they found that there were two normal distribution curves for each sex, which overlapped massively, and there was hardly any difference. Feb 15, 2016 at 11:54

I've found a counterexample which suggests that there can be differences between genders. This MIT study suggests that font choice in an automobile user interface can have knock-on usability effects which vary with gender.

This demonstrates that there can be occasional usability differences between men and women. I would hypothesise that these differences might be due to psychological and physical variation (very broad brush here, with the standard caveats that there will obviously be exceptions and that I'm talking about aggregate/average users).

The only answer that can reasonably be given to this question is: There might be differences depending on the situation - you will need to test with your users.


I've found this, it might be interesting http://blog.kissmetrics.com/gender-and-color

  • 1
    Can you explain why it's interesting? How does the page you linked help in answering the question?
    – Rahul
    Jan 8, 2013 at 10:07
  • Its more of a comment than an "answer". Please limit such comments to comments section.
    – Mohit
    Jan 8, 2013 at 11:02
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    Sorry, I am a newbe. That link is interesting because it shows some generalization of different studies about gender and color.
    – Giults
    Jan 9, 2013 at 11:22
  • @Giults its OK to post links in answers, but not as answers. A link isn't an answer, is just a link. Its like saying 'I have an answer, but I won't tell you, you'll have to go here to find it' (not to mention potential future link-rot). However if you summarise the relevant parts of the link and use it as a citation then that's perfectly good to do.
    – JonW
    Jan 9, 2013 at 23:54

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