[thelist] Do women view web pages differently from men?

Fortune Elkins fortune_elkins at summithq.com
Thu Apr 5 14:10:51 CDT 2001

so a couple wrote me about that text-links yahoo article from the new york
times...i'm posting it in full for those interested.

check out paragraphs 6, 7, and 8:

December 11, 2000
In Search for Online Success, 'Easy Does It' Is Good Theme
In the beginning there was a gray void and onto it were black letters. Some
of the letters became blue and were underlined. These were links, and they
begat other links.

And so were the very first Web pages models of brutish simplicity - raw
information and links to more information.

But it did not take long for people to see a world of possibilities in the
new technology. Type styles and colors multiplied. Then came graphics. And
soon Web-browser software could be turned into radios and televisions, stock
tickers, personal shoppers, secret decoder rings and much, much more.

But now, many generations into the development of the Web, it is clear that
the dominant species are those that have the most in common with their blue
and gray ancestors: simplicity.

The No. 1 Web site continues to be Yahoo, as it has been for most of the
Web's existence. Yahoo today is far more than the index of Web pages set up
as a graduate school project by Jerry Yang and David Filo. And yet typing
www.yahoo.com today elicits a Web site that looks remarkably similar to
their first draft. 

"From the very beginning, we saw the Web as a tool and wanted to let users
get the information they wanted in the quickest, most straightforward way,"
said Henry Sohn, a longtime Yahoo producer who is now a vice president in
charge of much of the site's design. 

In test after test, Yahoo executives find, for example, that users are much
more likely to click on underlined text links than on graphically more
attractive buttons. Indeed, the brief history of the Web is filled with
complex solutions to simple problems that attracted more publicity than

Consider credit card security. Initially, fear of fraud kept millions of
people from shopping online. Banking organizations developed an elaborate
system using the latest security technology that would prevent nearly any
known source of fraud. But it required every user to download and configure
an electronic wallet. Few did. Eventually, tens of millions of people became
comfortable typing their credit card numbers onto retailers' Web pages -
most of which use an automated security system built into browser software
that, it seems, is good enough.

Or recall another early high-buzz Web technology: collaborative filtering.
Sites like Firefly (since bought and dismantled by Microsoft) invited users
to type in the titles and artists for all their favorite music, for
instance, in order to learn what else they might care to listen to, based on
users with similar tastes. No one but a few graduate students bothered. 

Collaborative filtering does thrive, but only in a form that requires not a
key stroke of extra work by users. Amazon.com, uses it to automatically
suggest book and CD titles to customers, after comparing their purchases
with the selections of other Amazon customers. 

In theory, the advent of high-speed broadband connections will popularize
some of the uses of the Web that have been nothing more than excruciating
teases, like watching video. But the experience so far shows this is not how
people are using their high-speed lines.

"We already have lots of users in the workplace where they have 10-megabit
connections," Mr. Sohn said. "They don't want a lot of whiz-bang features.
They just want the same site to work even faster."

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