Though both men and women want websites to be easy to use overall, men say fast downloading is their second-most-desired feature, while women value easy navigation and accessibility over speed, according to a recent web usability study from Southern Illinois University, announced by Website Optimization.
Among all 301 undergraduate respondents, the study found that ease of use is the most important factor in evaluating website usability (1.54 relative importance). Intuitive navigation is second at 1.3, while accessibility came in third at 1.25. Download speed comes in fourth at 1.06 and customization/personalization comes in last (0.72 relative importance). Customization is less than half as important as ease of use in evaluating website usability.
Both genders agree that ease of use is the most important factor in assessing website usability (beta of 1.56-1.75). However, men prefer fast download speeds second (1.33), while women prefer easy navigation (1.41). Again, customization was found to be the least important factor in web usability (0.66-0.69), consistent with previous design-factors research.
The researchers hypothesize that these gender differences are because of the fact that women use the web to develop relationships, while men use the web for information gathering, when fast download speeds make searching for information online more efficient.
Previous research studies have confirmed that website speed is indeed an important factor for most users, and can foster higher flow states, conversion rates and perceived trustworthiness. However, this is one of the first studies that explores the differences among men and women in their desire for speed, Website Optimization said.