Intuition: Use It Online

According to my recent skimming of all the “women’s” magazines available to me while stairstepping at the health club, “Intuition” (a new perfume by Est&eacutee Lauder) is just hitting the fragrance counters of your local department store. But the concept of “woman’s intuition” has always been around.

Here’s my take: This way of thinking has only been gender-typed because women are more comfortable using it and are not afraid to admit it. Men have intuitive skills, too — for certain. Maybe it’s just less manly to acknowledge thinking in a way that has no scientific or logical basis.

Nevertheless, since this is a platform for discussing how to reach women consumers, I’ll stick with discussing Web site organization through a woman’s intuitive eyes.

Intuitive Web Organization

Steve Krug’s first law of usability for Web site design, and the title to his book, “Don’t Make Me Think“, says it all. Web pages should be self-evident. I looked up “self-evident” in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary; the definition is “evident without proof or reasoning,” which sounds a lot like a definition of “woman’s intuition” to me.

There are several ways to organize a Web site for intuitive navigability, and the most effective methods have a lot to do with common sense from a woman’s perspective. If you consider the organization of an e-commerce site on paper, for example, you might be tempted to list products alphabetically. It just seems the easiest and quickest way to solve the problem, right?

If you give it a bit more thought, you’d realize that people search for things such as books, wedding gifts, stereo equipment, and outdoor gear in a more intuitive way. You have many considerations when making purchases, whether you are buying a gift for the wedding of a couple in their early 20s, buying a present for a friend’s second baby, adding stereo components to your newly remodeled kitchen, or purchasing a Father’s Day present for a couch-potato dad (as opposed to, say, an outdoorsy dad).

Intuitive E-Commerce

A woman, for example, would intuit that the gift for a betrothed couple in their late 30s (a check for their favorite environmental charity seems popular right now) would be much different from the gift for a couple in their early 20s (china in their pattern). An intuitive wedding site might be organized by which wedding it is (first, second, and beyond) or by the life stage of the couple (college marriage, seniors marriage…).

eToys (now KBkids.com) is an e-commerce site that “gets” intuitive shopping. You can purchase toys by price range, age range, category, or featured shops (the Pok&eacutemon shop would be a favorite with my seven-year-old nephew, I do believe). eToys probably didn’t originally launch the site with this savvy organization method, but to get there it likely (and wisely) paid attention to feedback from shopping moms.

Other e-commerce sites that likely gave a little extra, unscientific thought to the organization of their sites and lay them out according to the way people think about purchasing their products are:

  • Hifi.com. Shop by room, not only by dimensions and amps, for stereo and television equipment. (I’ve mentioned these guys before — see my article, “To Be ‘Hers,’ or Not to Be?“) Perfect for finding those white little — but powerful — speakers to put up in your newly modernized kitchen.
  • REI.com. The “Learn & Share” section of this site has how-to help and community opportunities, among other things. Products are organized by sport, then by categories such as “Gear Checklist” and “How To Choose.” I would find that very helpful and probably use it even when I wasn’t buying. (Note: Combining e-commerce and community doesn’t always work well from a woman’s perspective, but maybe outdoor sports nuts are different.)
  • InStyle.com. This site’s developers thought through the search terms and chose to repackage their product presentation in several ways. My favorite is being able to see the fashion trends of the stars. Believe me, women are swayed by what outfits the celebrities are wearing. (It’s a sad truth.) And you can click on “get this look” right from the photo. (Now let me just find out the price of those trendy low-rider jeans Jenna Elfman is wearing…)

Intuitive Holiday Shopping

Now may be a good time to consider organizing your wares in yet another way — theme boutiques. With the holiday e-tailing season oh-so rapidly approaching (egad), structuring a storefront of specially packaged gift items and grouping gift ideas by cost (e.g., $25, $50, $100-plus) are very effective marketing tactics. Including content about destressing after the holidays might be a great way to further promote a bath gift pack. And a “Christmas for Dad” boutique might be an area where you’d suggest gifts for every type of dad, such as couch-potato dads, new dads, golf dads, and so on.

So the next time your site is up for a little renovation, give it a try. Present your products or services in a way that doesn’t force your customers to stop and think. Rather, organize your site in a way that nudges both men and women to exercise their intuitive skills.

Take the effort out of shopping — your shoppers will enjoy it more and visit again and again.

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