In my last post, we looked at the importance of culturability, “the relationship between culture and usability in WWW design” , and specifically, Individualism vs. Collectivism , when designing online.
Professor Geert Hofstede spent over 40 years researching cultural dimensions, and this week we’ll look at the third of these: Masculine vs. Feminine.
What are Masculine and Feminine cultures?
According to Hofstede ,
The masculinity side of this dimension represents a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material reward for success. Society at large is more competitive. Its opposite, femininity, stands for a preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak and quality of life. Society at large is more consensus-oriented.
A very masculine country (such as Mexico) will tend to express distinct gender roles, favour assertiveness and heroism, and measure achievement by material rewards.
In contrast, countries with a high feminine score (such as Russia) will usually focus more on relationships and quality of life, making the majority of decisions by consensus. Social cohesion is of great importance, as is cooperation and a focus on home life.
So, how do Masculine and Feminine cultures express themselves online? And how can you use this to your advantage?
5 web design tips for Masculine cultures:
- Your website should be interactive, exciting and dynamic
- Be explicit as to whom you’re targeting
- Use gamification, goal-oriented challenges
- Include motion and video
- Use limited-time competitions / offers
A great example of these principles in action is Japan’s Coca-Cola website (this tends to get updated quite regularly so it may be a new version from the screengrabs below):
5 web design tips for Feminine cultures:
- Show how your products / services benefit the wider group…
- And how they improve quality of life
- Don’t project your gender roles
- Collaborate with your customers
- Reflect your audience’s aesthetic preferences
A great example of these principles in action is the Swedish Radio website:
Want to find out more?
If you’re interested in finding out more, please come back in two weeks’ time when we’ll be looking at the next dimension, Uncertainty Avoidance.
 W. Barber and A. Badre (1998). Culturability: The merging of culture and usability. In Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Human Factors and the Web.
 G. Hofstede (2010). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the mind. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill.