When I was a young girl growing up, a particular TV commercial aggravated me. It was about a liquid vitamin supplement called Geritol used for “iron poor blood” that contained alcohol and was said to give women lots of energy and ambition. The TV husband would rave about the miraculous feats his wife could perform while taking Geritol. The commercial ended with, “My wife. I’ll think I’ll keep her.”

The message I got from it was that if I wasn’t perfect in every way, there were products out there I could use to help me be perfect. Not only this, if I didn’t buy and take them, I’d never be worthy of a man or worth keeping.

To me, this kind of marketing was severely wrong because it’s degrading to women. Even as a teenager I felt the insult. The commercial was the brunt of jokes. In fact, in a classic I Love Lucy show episode featuring the famous “Vitameatavegamin” skit, Lucy gets drunk after sampling the product.

How could advertising firms have gotten it so wrong? Sure, women want energy. But to tie their lack of it to the security of their marriage was cruel and showed a lack of understanding about where women were going. The 70’s, when that commercial came out, was also the time when the feminist movement began to rise up again. The second publication of Betty Friedan’s, “The Feminine Mystique” came out in 1974, and this time, eleven years after its debut, brought US women face to face with themselves. They were more than “Wifey”.

Do agencies still make mistakes advertising to women? You bet! Are web site designers making the same mistakes? Yes, they are.

In a newly published book, “The Soccer Mom Myth”, written by Michele Miller and Holly Buchanan, the focus is on female consumers, who she is and why she makes purchases. The book describes the differences between how men and women think and why this matters with web site design, especially e-commerce.

Over half of the USA population is women. By this year, females may account for 52.6 percent of US Internet users – in other words, outnumbering males. Consider that men still dominate web site programming, advertising, search engine marketing, web design and performance testing positions; you can immediately see the potential for missing the mark. We all know men don’t know what women want.

In their book, Miller and Buchanan discuss the female brain and how MRI’s have proven they’re wired differently than male brains. Until recently, no one really considered a possible physical difference. According to the book, women have four times as many neurons connecting the left and right side of the brain. They process information differently. Men process content from a logical, linear perspective while women add nonlanguage-based processing that includes emotion, imagination and experience. The extra connections between a female’s right and left side make her able to “transfer data from one side to the other at a high rate of speed”. So much for needing Geritol.

Watching out for trends in women’s lives is important. They spend a lot of time on the Internet. Understanding how they process the information they see there is necessary to being able to promote your products. Females remember and reward good experiences and excellent customer service.

They need to feel a connection. I love how automobile sites drape slinky gorgeous women in evening gowns over the hood of their cars. This is great for the male brain, which has two and a half more brain space devoted to sexual drive, aggression and action. But women buy cars too.

My copy of The Soccer Mom Myth has yellow highlighter and sticky tabs all over the book. The authors write in short chapters, which for a multi-tasking woman like me, made it much easier to take in because I was always interrupted. Their dialog isn’t overly technical. They banter. Show examples. Tease. They make point after point. They shatter stereotypes. They show how to create personas and illustrate how stupid mistakes can kill a sale.

In one chapter, Holly asks, “Can you lose a sale in just two words?” Yes. “By starting out with ‘Dear Sir’”.

The book delves into how to perform research and ask the right questions. It helps you plan personas and scenarios that help you create pathways on your web site for their different buying processes. The book bounces with stories that stick in your mind, like the Volvo automobile executive that said, “We learned that if you meet women’s needs and expectations, you also exceed those for men.”

This new book will show you how to do that.


Order The Soccer Mom Myth at Amazon.

Women Are Not Soccer Balls
That Was, Indeed, Kim Krause Berg Up There


Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)