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What are the characteristics of a "woman friendly" voice?
What are some tips or best practices when writing for a female audience?
Webwork




msg:3409887
 8:08 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a few "gender biased" domains, ones that are likely to draw a predominantly female audience. Topically, the "domain subject" is of interest to me but I'm worried that I may be out of my element.

Should I bail out and turn the project over to a woman?

Maybe not. Maybe if I did an little research . . . ;)

When it comes to copywriting what turns women off? What turns women on?

Is there a "language of women" that applies to copywriting in varying contexts? Copywriting for women shopping? What about women planning vacations? Women planning events?

What do women "look for" in advertising or sales copy?

Is there a "woman's angle" to marketing or advertising copywriting? Do only women "get it"?

Can a man really talk the talk . . unless he's walked a mile . . in a woman's high heels . . and in a brassiere . . after being 8 months pregnant . . and putting up with men, as a woman, for years . . and . .?

Any women out there care to share any secrets of writing for women, say in an affiliate/product marketing context?

"As a guy I want a widget that will hold up under heavy use. I want it strong and durable! I want to know that when I need it it will be ready to perform."

"As a woman I look for widgets . . . . "

 

Marcia




msg:3409917
 8:38 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I want to know that when I need it it will be ready to perform

We feel the same way (especially about men).

abbeyvet




msg:3409962
 9:41 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Weird, I did a lot of thinking about this recently and some reading.

I don't know how it translates as an answer to the question, but I found a study carried out a couple of years ago about what novels men and women read. It showed very significant differences - men were very unlikely to read a novel written by a woman, while women were just as likely to read one by a man as they were to read one written by a woman. Why? I don't know and the study didn't go there.

Another study looked at how men and women watched television and I thought it was particularly interesting when thinking about designing web pages. Men and women watched the same documentary programme on TV and were then asked questions about it.

Both genders scored pretty equally on questions about the actual topic of the programme. Women remembered a lot of detail about the people who appeared in the programme - they were able to describe even people who had appeared only briefly in some detail - what they wore, the colour of their hair, their race, their accent. Women could also describe the studio set, its colour, patterns and texture. Men scored far less well on these sort of things.

From that - though I know it's a huge extrapolation - I concluded that the content is not the critical thing that makes the difference, but that the way it is presented will matter more to women than men - or that they will at least notice it more, and thus be in a position to make judgments based on it.

I have always noticed though that women tend to write in a more personal way, bringing their feelings into even non-emotional topics - for example if they are talking about a widget they will say something like "I thought this was an excellent widget and I believe you will find it very useful too" whereas a man might say "This is a great widget which a lot of people will find very useful"

But whether women will have a preference for reading one over the other - or will respond better to one or other - that's a different thing. The other two examples above make me think they probably won't, but that men might!

Marshall




msg:3409981
 10:07 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Don't be condescending.

Marshall

buckworks




msg:3409986
 10:23 pm on Jul 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Maybe if I did an little research

Details, details ....

What do women "look for" in advertising or sales copy?

Honesty. Common sense. Usefulness. Personality. Get the details right.

I think it's more effective to think in terms of shared interests rather than the pigeonholes of gender, age, life stage or whatever.

Write about recipes from the perspective of someone who like to cook (or hates it, maybe).

Write about shopping from the perspective of someone who wants to use personal resources effectively (or who fantasizes about being rich as a king).

Write about environmental issues from the perspective of someone who wants ideas and information about how to make a positive difference.

Write about fashion from the perspective of someone who loves beautiful fabrics, fine jewelry, apparel as art or clothing as function.

Those aren't genderbound perspectives.

There's a diverse enough audience on the web that you don't have to take a Procrustean approach to your own writing style to fit someone else's pigeonhole.

Cover your topic intelligently, let your personality shine through, and whoever likes it, likes it.

Webwork




msg:3411391
 12:49 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

content is not the critical thing that makes the difference, but that the way it is presented will matter more to women than men - or that they will at least notice it more

I have a sense that there's something in that observation that might help explain the difference in the decor and/or presentation of my son's bedroom versus my daughter's bedroom. I think I'll ponder - lightly - on how bedrooms and webpages - or TV viewing may reflect . . something . .

Anyone ever notice that women's websites, designed by women, "are different"? I don't want to name things or explain things, because I'm looking for insight, and I don't want to play the gender game but "it's what I see that makes me wonder".

There's a diverse enough audience on the web

Ahhh . . the ole stand-by. Ya, I'm a big believer in the big numbers effect and, yes, I really really really intend not to "think too much" . . but . . I don't want to just blow past this issue/concern and express my ignorance of women in matters of design and presentation.

Marcia, dear, it's always . . a pleasure . (? &or ;-p ) . to observe presentation artists . . who have a tendency . . nay, a transcendant and joyful capacity . . to move in dialogue from flippancy to earnest assistance with such . . grace? ;0)

Marshall, whatever are you talking about? Ducks and runs for cover.

[edited by: Webwork at 1:06 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2007]

Webwork




msg:3411417
 1:25 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Gender difference is such a complex and potentially volatile issue that I choose to tread lightly, but not blindly, into the dialogue

I grew up in the age of gender equality's big leap forward. I've continued to grow up - okay, age and grow old - as the gender equalists around me have softened a bit and began to ask "Is it all bad that there may be some differences . . perhaps made of choice . . " So, it's in that context that I'm willing to ask these questions.

Basically, I don't want to be a stupid, ignorant, insensitive guy . . or caveman, as we once were (are still?) known.

So perhaps Bucky's proposition holds sway?

"Whatever consistency of oatmeal they like, serve 'em what you got in the pot, and thems that like it elsewise and otherwise can go eat in someone else's kitchen."

Still, I'd like to avoid offending . . so perhaps Marshall's advice on condescending . .

Argh! There is no enlightenment, no answer!

I shall Write not for men, nor for women, but I shall write for the world-uber-audience of . . wise, informed, well balanced, humble, self-effacing, . . mutant geeks.

Marshall




msg:3411475
 2:32 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Marshall, whatever are you talking about? Ducks and runs for cover

Don't let or make your content condescending towards women.

Marshall

pageoneresults




msg:3411489
 2:42 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Anyone ever notice that women's websites, designed by women, "are different"?

Always. I've had the pleasure of working with female artists for many years. If you are designing for a female audience, you should definitely have a female team member directing the project. Or, a member who understands the female mind. ;)

I have such a project right now where I have to appeal to a majority female audience but at the same time make it comfortable for the male audience. From my perspective, design is going to be the deciding factor. Its the first impression. Writing is writing and is usually androgynous in nature.

Or caveman, as we once were (are still?) known.

Walks off in disgust. Apparently you've not seen my descendants on Geico? :)

What are the characteristics of a "woman friendly" voice?

Ms. Dewey

The woman with an English accent on my Nuvi 660. She can be rather entertaining.

P.S. For the longest time I thought buckworks was a male. ;)

[edited by: pageoneresults at 2:51 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2007]

bcolflesh




msg:3411495
 2:49 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

...a member who understands the female mind.

This would be the single most valuable human skill ever developed.

Monkey




msg:3411696
 5:13 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Should I bail out and turn the project over to a woman?

Yes!

Webwork




msg:3411735
 5:35 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Umm . . know any women, Monkey?

Lemme answer that for you: "Yes".

Are you a woman, Monkey?

Lemme guess: "No, but you've been down a few roads that may look like the one I'm on."

No?

Well, then, what else ya got to help me along here?

That is, besides a possibly wise offer to co-opt a few lovely, gender biased domains. ;)

[edited by: Webwork at 5:37 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2007]

Webwork




msg:3411759
 5:44 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Maybe I can ask this: Besides blatant ignorance or sexism or "writing about that which thou has no direct experiential knowledge" - what, if anything - do men bring to writing about isses that may be of interest to women that drives you to involuntarily spit . . or voluntarily throw things at your computer monitor?

If nothing then that's great, but I'm guessing there's room for some small personal stories of how men, when writing about issues that may be of interest to women, either don't "talk the talk" (since they don't walk the walk) OR they "talk like guys" or . . .

Alrighty, if there's nothing to be aware of, alerted to or concerned about, then I'm off to write about . . . the effectiveness of using mini-sledgehammers to adjust child car seats . . . ;-p Been there, done that.

pageoneresults




msg:3411773
 5:53 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

that drives you to involuntarily spit . . or voluntarily throw things at your computer monitor?

Men writing about female grooming tips is sure to cause a stir.

Been there, done that. Right here at WebmasterWorld too. abbeyvet will tell you. ;)

abbeyvet




msg:3411787
 6:02 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

When men refer to women as 'girls'. As pageoneresults will tell you :)

Happens still with some conferences, which is truly unbelievable - as in "....golf has been arranged for Friday afternoon .... the girls may prefer to take advantage of the excellent Spa And Therapy Centre at the hotel or avail of the courtesy coach to visit ******* for a little shopping!"

That's from a recent brochure I received. It was DEFINITELY written by a man.

pageoneresults




msg:3411790
 6:07 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

The girls may prefer to take advantage of.

Obviously written by a male with no class whatsoever. Was he referring to the 9th grade class or what? :)

Girls and Boys
Ladies and Gentlemen
Male and Female

Now, why is it that I put them in that order? Why did I say Male and Female as opposed to Female and Male. The first two sound perfect just the way they are, so does the third. But, the third puts the Female second, that's a no-no. ;)

I like the androgynous anonymity of online communities. Sometimes you never know if its a male or female on the other end. Works well that way, eh?

buckworks




msg:3411902
 8:00 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Now, why is it that I put them in that order?

Likely because your inner poet prefers the rhythm of the syllables when you put them in that order.

In these examples it's a matter of musicality, more than anything.

As for sending the "girls" off to the spa, some women would enjoy golf, some men would enjoy the spa, and some might prefer to snooze for a couple of hours. Everyone should be able to make up their own minds without anyone's thoughtless expectations limiting their choices unnecessarily.

Monkey




msg:3412068
 10:42 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Male and Female

Perhaps you were also thinking "Man and Woman"

Really you meant "boys and girls...."

There is a nursery song "boys and girls come out to play...."

So the odd one out should have been "ladies and gentlemen"....becos it's been put into your head by society. A gentleman always lets a lady go first!

Monkey




msg:3412090
 11:17 pm on Aug 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Umm . . know any women, Monkey?
Lemme answer that for you: "Yes".

Have you not seen "Planet of the Apes" - of course there are women monkeys just as there are men monkeys. It's what makes our world go round. Sounds like in your society you are lacking women monkeys?


Well, then, what else ya got to help me along here?

I have some women monkey friends who are looking for a soul mate to look after them.....are you offering? They'll look after the kids whilst you hunt for food.

Other than that what women magazines have you looked at? Who's your target audience (age, salary, profession, etc)


That is, besides a possibly wise offer to co-opt a few lovely, gender biased domains. ;)

Do you know my world famous wise cousins "see no evil", "hear no evil", "speak no evil"?

Monkey




msg:3419293
 9:00 pm on Aug 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Forgot "do no evil" - sorry cuz

Hey webwork - what's happening with the gender bender?

amythepoet




msg:3419936
 1:38 am on Aug 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi Webwork,

I am a woman, who has a business that caters to mostly women.

I've done a lot of research on my topic, and therefore I find it easy to write about the subject.

zerotre




msg:3425480
 11:25 am on Aug 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I like this thread greatly! I have been thinking about this a lot too, as a woman and webmaster, working on the web since 1998 in Europe, a non-native English speaker - I need to say that because I may not reflect exactly the North-American mind.

First of all, I almost always assume that whoever is speaking through a website is very probably a man, and - but here we are speaking of subjective impressions - words in a webpage are not so important individually, since on the web we read fast, mostly scanning, and "sensitive" words mostly get lost in the general meaning of the paragraph. I would not suggest to re-write for a female audience, if the text is already well-written. On the other hands other things would be of greater impact.

Style would be of primary importance. All details should fit within a harmonious whole, even before we start reading or scanning. Even if as persons some women may not be tidy, non-neurotic tidiness, order and harmony are deep aspirations. Extravagance, exaggerations are disliked. Since we are speaking of potential customers, we all know how women love to watch shopwindows and on the virtual world, if we do not even care about stopping in front of a shopwindow (the homepage) we will not enter. If I were a webmaster catering for a main female public, I would concentrate enormously on the homepage, with my "merchandise" carefully exhibited with that special identity that will make the site impressive and invite her to stay some more and possibly "buy". Neat content, inviting images, a couple of paragraphs above the fold telling exactly what the website does and how can help me.

Though the female universe is very wide, I would say that a lower percentage than men work in IT and the profile of women browsing the web might be more consistent. University level, professionals, studying the web for vacations (on a family level vacations are mostly chosen by women), health information, school information, real estate, clothing and accessories, pets, environment-safe solutions - much less technology and computer products, where the general female feeling is that a computer, like a car or a tv set, should do its job well without the owner caring for memory and the rest. The web is a great time-saver and women are using the web also to save time and to get information before deciding on a purchase for themselves or the family (while men less often shop the web for the family).

In the following I will specify different scenarios starting from different so to say "profiles", on the assumption that the social-cultural milieu of your visitor is important as well as the target: if they match, the female visitor will fall in love with the site. The profiles match some common categories of women that I see populating the virtual world.

First Scenario: based on myself, working with family, middle class, with a degree, IT experience. I like essential design, I want to find my way in a website easily, find the answers, and very often see the "who we are" section to apply some value to what I am reading. I dislike Flash presentations, sounds, banners, complicated menus and excessive long pages, don't care about images, don't follow suggested links, don't like strong colors and color contrasts, don't like packed pages. I like consistent menus all over a site, I like short meaningful sentences and white space in the page, medium-large font that lets me read easily without having to change the font in the browser. I am ready to buy with PayPal (less with credit cards) and buy instinctively, that is either I am convinced the first time or I will not come back (usually), since I use a number of different computers I do not bookmark much - this I would say is common for many women sharing a computer at home with other users.

Second scenario: career, over-35 women, single or without children, affluent and in any case women who are their own boss. Time is all important to them, website must be essential but attractive, they will buy vacations, plane tickets, cellphones, clothes, organic food, buy and sell real estate, follow blogs and community. They might get angry at excessive download times and non-essential frills.

Third scenario: non-technological savvy women, mothers: they will not buy the first time, might need to be guided through the site with words like "click here", they will use the web to get informed on things for the family, or health problems, psychology, school possibilities, finding a job, buying presents, they will want to print to be able to discuss what they found with husbands, relatives or friends, they might be shopping for elderly parents. They might not buy, but will click easily on ads. The web may be used often to follow a hobby or passion, like genealogy, literature, art. They will spend time on a website, and need a consistent navigation and a very user-friendly website. A good recipe, or nice affordable vacation offer, a special beauty product or accessory, changing everyday on the homepage might be a plus to acquire their loyalty. This homepage would be very difficult to make, since this profile (and beware, most women have a long period matching this profile in their lives) has interests ranging all the family, and something for all ages that she cares for would be very cute. From the profile, they will not be very proficient at using search engines, so they need to memorize the site the when they find it: an easy to remember name, with a striking logo, present on every internal page, and an incentive to join a maillist.

Fourth scenario: young, intelligent, independent - this is a really new breed choosing their own browsing path through a universe of blogs, buying and selling on e-bay, following news and media, tattoo sites and alternative fashion, trendy palmtops - this woman will speak in the first person, post on bulletin boards, search for relevant unique answers - a real Web creature, almost like Trinity in the Matrix saga, she will shop for gym clothing, herbal creams, exotic vacations, music and video. More extravagant than her male friends of the same age, she will like an impressive look in a website, with non-obvious color matches and a strong branding identity. On the homepage, an original, impressive bit of news changing often.

mini




msg:3435339
 11:02 am on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

If a woman picks up a topic to read believing that it involved the experience of the woman who wrote, then I think a woman should like that article/topic.

HelenDev




msg:3435448
 1:34 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK, I may come across as a rampant feminist, but I'll be the first to bite, shall I?

Anyone ever notice that women's websites, designed by women, "are different"?

Always. I've had the pleasure of working with female artists for many years. If you are designing for a female audience, you should definitely have a female team member directing the project. Or, a member who understands the female mind.

First of all, I almost always assume that whoever is speaking through a website is very probably a man

Have you ever considered that there are many mainstream, authority, websites out there which are written, programmed and designed by women? Even those which aren't pink and about fashion? I actually know just as many female web developers as male ones, and many of them work on government/authority websites.

And zerotre, thank you so much for grouping women into four handy stereotypes ;)

Shimrit




msg:3436553
 1:30 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

If your goal is to write in a voice that appeals to women, then all you need to do is check out a few women's websites and magazines and see what language/style they use. You don't need to be a woman to write in a woman's voice. If, on the other hand, you want to offer products/services/themes that appeal to women, then you're better off getting a woman on your team to give you a female point of view.

Beagle




msg:3437154
 12:18 am on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, yes, in the same way that if you want to appeal to men, you should look at some men's websites. But what's a "man's website" like? There are at least as many different kinds of women as their are kinds of men, and they aren't all interested in the same things. You have to narrow your target audience in a different way than simply looking at what gender they are. When you talk about a "women's magazine," for example, do you mean Family Circle or Cosmo? Both are mainstream women's magazines but with very different "voices". And selling very different kinds of products. (And a lot of women read Time, Newsweek, and PC, too.)

So, going back to the OP, saying a website is "gender biased" doesn't really answer any questions about who your customers are likely to be.

The only statement I've never seen contradicted is that women tend to be more relationship-oriented than men: and by that I don't mean, y'know, "relationship" - I mean any interaction between noticeably human beings. I have a forum where the vast majority of the members are women. They got together because of a common interest, but they've stayed together - some for 6 or 7 years and through the demise of two previous forums - because they enjoy being with each other. This doesn't negate the fact that they have some very intelligent, involved discussions about the interest that brought them together in the first place.

One other generalization (and it's definitely a generalization), based on the "widget" question, is that things that [some] men might be more apt to consider "toys," a women will want to be "useful". As in, "Gee, it's great your cell phone has all those features but do you, ah, use them?" If a woman doesn't see a practical use for extra features that cost another $100, she's [in general] not likely to pay for them.

I'll agree that a lot of websites that [some] people assume were made by men -- weren't. I have different user names on different forums, but none of them indicate gender - It's kind of fun sometimes to see how long it takes before someone figures out I'm female. And when I'm there in person, it's kind of fun to watch how long it takes the guy at Best Buy to realize that, yes, I do know exactly what I'm looking for and he's not going to sell me something I know I don't need. (To be fair to computer merchants, I've had the same experience with car mechanics.)

[edited by: Beagle at 12:33 am (utc) on Aug. 31, 2007]

zerotre




msg:3438444
 5:47 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

"And zerotre, thank you so much for grouping women into four handy stereotypes ;) "
HelenDev, I was absolutely not implying there are just FOUR women categories, I never wrote that and did not use "Categories" but "scenarios" - which is very different. These "scenarios" - or projections of marketing segmentation - are endless, and the grouping I did was based on lifestyles and interests, so I was "categorizing" customers that happen to be women. I used four scenarios just as examples of different market targets, but for each different product there might be many different customer segmentations.

To return to the thread, I believe the answers proceed from the relation between the product (=website) and the customer (=visitor).

Is the aim of the website to create interaction? Then a woman speaking voice might surely be better.

Is the basic aim to sell products which are specifically targeted to women?
What is needed is a good seller that knows the products thoroughly and the customers from experience. It does not greatly matter if the seller is a man or woman. In this field it is not true that a woman customer prefers a woman seller, a customer always likes to receive attention as a person and know that her $$$ are going to be lost for something that is worth it. A good seller will know what features the female customers can appreciate more in a product, not because this seller is a woman, but because of his/her experience; in the website pages will concentrate on the features derived from this experience, that is to say, I think there is no need of a female-speaking voice, but of content.

Is the aim to sell products which are targeted to both women and men?
The speaking voice must concentrate on letting the product speak, without any bias and without irritating either customer group, in the same way as the website speaking voice must carefully try to avoid religion or politics issues, which might likely split the customers into biased groups.

vincevincevince




msg:3438461
 6:22 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I suspect that trying to write for a female audience without being female is a bad idea. Perhaps you could go in the opposite direction and deliberately offend the female audience? Think Jeremy Clarkson and his ilk - there's nothing like stirring things up with some lashings of male chauvinism to keep your audience reading, if not agreeing!

After all... being a man you are uniquely qualified to show off your insensitive side and your sweeping sterotypes about women in a way with which no woman writer can hope to compete. So yes, do talk about 'girls' and make comments insinuating you believe in all kinds of sexist nonsense.

Correction to an earlier post:
So the odd one out should have been "ladies and gentlemen"....becos it's been put into your head by society. A gentleman always lets a lady go first!

Originally it was 'my lords, ladies and gentlemen'... ladies as in the female rank equivalent of the lords... missing out the wives of the gentlemen altogether.

Monkey




msg:3440135
 5:45 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

So what is the companion of a gentleman? A gentle woman?

King_Fisher




msg:3440144
 6:03 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

I almost jumped in on this thread. But a very wise voice said "don't go there".

So for once I heeded that voice(tuning out multiple others)and remain safe and
dry on a far distant shore...KF

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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