Someone asked me today how to plan user/usability testing for a luxury retailer’s homepage, and if the testing should be based purely on various segments of users.

Of course the answer is that it’s not so simple.  It really depends on what the testing goals are (which are driven by the business goals), or what hypothesis you’re questioning related to your product. I also came across this article earlier which showed 17 luxury brand sites with horrible user experiences. Many of the examples were obviously not well-planned, but a couple got me thinking that user experience is not so black and white (good or bad).

In fact, I’d wonder if some website experiences and usability guidelines are somewhat biased for male vs. female users. If your business has a distinct customer of one particular gender, that would be much easier to target with UX. But what about sites like Amazon.com or Gilt.com that target both?

It’s already been shown that men buy more frequently and spend more money online than women; but is that behavior because many sites already target them?

Re-posted from Extrabux.com via visual.ly.

Re-posted from Extrabux.com via visual.ly.

According to some designers, women want stories and details, but men want proof and immediacy. This makes sense to me, since I know from my own experience that men are single-focused (goal-oriented) and women have diffuse awareness (connection-oriented). Perhaps in many major online retailers, it’s very easy to QUICKLY make a purchase based on price, but the details/story behind the product are lacking.

As a woman I’ll readily admit to reading many of the customer reviews before I make a purchase, and sometimes I won’t purchase something if there are no reviews. In fact, one online retailer I know that specifically targets women *very effectively* incorporates STORIES and details in every product page, which makes women more likely to buy. They make the customer “feel good” and envision themselves in a situation where they could wear/use the item.

But how do you account for both women and men’s purchasing habits within the same site?

Common sense tells me that the key to solving these questions is through user/usability testing of both genders.