Bibliography:

http://www.taylorswift.com/

http://www.alexandraburkeofficial.com

http://www.justintimberlake.com/

http://www.robbiewilliams.com/

Amare, N. Ulijn, J.M & Van Luxemburg, A.P.D, 2002,  The contribution of electronic communication media to the design process: communicative and cultural implicationsProfessional Communication, IEEE Transactions on , vol.45, no.4, pp. 250- 264, 

Bruckman,A, 2002, Ethical Guidelines for Research Online, Version: 4/4/02, Georgie Institute of Technology, available at: http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~asb/ethics/ [date accessed: 11/4/2011]

Gunn, R, Heller, J. and Moss, G. 2005, Some Men like It Black Some Women like It Pink: consumer implications of differences in male and female website design’, in The Journal of Consumer Behaviour, (Volume: 5, Issue: 4)

Huffaker. D. A & Calvert. S. L, 2005, Gender, Identity and Language in Teen Blogs, in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, (Volume:10, Issue:2).

Lakoff. R, 1973, Language and a Womens Place, Oxford University Press, New York

Macafee. C, Pedersen, S, 2007, Gender in British Blogs, in The Journal of Computor  Mediated Communication, (Volume: 12, issue: 4)

Tannen. D, 1995, The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why, in Asherman. I.G & Asherman. S. V, 2001, The Negotiation Sourcebook 2nd edition, HRD Press, Amherst, USA p245-259

Song, J, Van Pelt, W, Zahedi, F, 2000, A Conceptual Framework for International Web Design, Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on , vol.44, no.2, pp.83-103

 

 

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To Sum Up

In conclusion I feel this study has shown there is in fact a difference between male and female website design. This analysis successfully proves that women tend to make their sites as friendly and as socially desirable as possible; filling them with colour and images, whereas male pages tend to be less aesthetically pleasing and more concerned with information and technical sophistication. I consider it fair to agree with Huffaker and Culvert’s assumptions about women’s likelihood to divulge personal details in order to achieve a social desirability. Although there’s not much data available to analyse text variations and assess specific language traits, what is available displays many of the features the previously mentioned scholars have made reference to. If I were to repeat this study I would think about more carefully about my sample groups, possibly not choosing celebrities. This way we could determine if this is a feature of professionalism in male communication or a feature of men in general. I also believe that by ensuring as many of the variables as possible remained consistent; same sex groups, equally distributed cultural expectations and similar fields of interest, it’s become clear that such differences are gendered, however, I would argue that it is not as clear cut as this; it is apparent just through the comparison of Swift and Burke there is a noticeable difference in personal disclosure and language traits, thus suggesting more of a scale rather than simply a male or female result.

 

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Commentary on the study

When reviewing this study  I will integrate research from my literature review with the selected websites. The most obvious difference between the homepages is colour and visual components. Swift’s site (USA) is bright and feminine; she has used varying shades of purple creatively integrated with swirls. The typography appears almost hand written adding a personal touch; it’s clear she thought about her presentation and how it represents her character. Similarly, Burke (UK) has thought about her backdrop carefully, she has opted for a more classic black and gold backdrop. The typography shows no great significance, except that it does fit in with the theme of her page. Both of these examples have kept their homepages ‘clutter free’ and simple by adding hyperlinks. I feel they’ve opted for images of themselves due to the exclusive element of celebrity pages. After all these pages are created and used as advertising tools. These pages differ aesthetically to the two male’s pages. Both males have chosen simple monochrome backdrops. Timberlake’s page has a picture slide show but, unlike the females, the pictures are not of him posing but of everyday life. Williams has opted for no picture at all, just a brand logo on the top left of the page. Another key difference is the male’s unified decision to fill their pages with information, hyperlinks to video clips, news articles, tour dates and pictures. This is not to say the female sites did not have this information available, just theirs were neatly organised into separate links. These findings support those of Gunn et all (2006). As previously discussed he noted that females opt for brighter colours, and paid more attention to typography compared to the males rigid features. As far as assessing the language differences within the four sites, it is difficult to make assumptions. Although the females supply us with ample examples of their language in blogs and biographies, the two males give no real examples of their linguistic habits. Their pages remain entirely impersonal and professional in comparison. So it’s impossible to ascertain if Lakoff’s findings in this area are supported. However we can look at examples from the females’ pages and assess if there are features found here that match up to his theories. Alexandra’s blogs are not as useful as these are not written by her, but on behalf of her; they discuss her personal life and contain some direct quotes but these are brief and carefully selected showing little evidence of Lakoff’s  ‘powerless language’. Taylor’s blog, on the other hand, has plenty of examples. She is an avid user of what Lakoff named ‘empty adjectives’, using words like ‘cute’, ‘cosy’ and ‘whimsical’. She uses tag questions a lot, a way of grounding herself to the public, eg. ‘that would be weird, right?’. We can however, assess our findings in this study with the hypotheses made by Huffaker and Calvert. There are no examples of emoticons in these pages however this may be a consequence of the semi-professional nature of the sites. It is obvious from the comparison of the female’s blogs, journals and biographies in contrast to the absence of such features in the male pages that women are more likely to discuss personal topics with males publically. In one of Swift entries she even makes reference to her love life. It’s also evident from the results that all four individuals posted links to other pages such as their Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, showing a gendered equality of information giving. However, an interesting feature found was how both females displayed these links at the top of their pages whereas the two males were a little more difficult to find, right at the bottom. A final comparison to be made to previous research is to  Perderson and Macafee and their assumptions concerning the motivations of individuals to post information at all. They suggest that women are far more concerned with social attractiveness, continuously updating diaries and pictures, whereas the male’s cluttered, monochrome appearance and lack of personal divulgence supports their hypothesis that males are more concerned with information and fact, and tend to air on the side of technical sophistication instead of social desirability.  This idea of motivation is supported by Song et al (2000 p.9) they state that women prefer to adopt networking-based communication, whereas men tend to adopt competition-based communication.

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Methodology

To be able to analyse the effect gender has on the aesthetics and styles of websites we must first choose examples in which to compare. I have chosen two males and two females to try to eliminate individual differences within genders. I have also tried to ensure that I have one male and female from both the UK and the U.S.A in order to try to diminish the influence of cross cultural effects.  To try to further reduce the likelihood of individual differences I have chosen examples from within a particular group to ensure similar motivations and interests; with this in mind I have chosen four celebrities from the music world. From America I have chosen the web pages of Taylor Swift (http://www.taylorswift.com/) and Justin Timberlake (http://www.justintimberlake.com/), and from the UK I will be referring Alexandra Burke  (http://www.alexandraburkeofficial.com), and Robbie Williams (http://www.robbiewilliams.com/). I will be following the Ethical Guidelines for Research Online, (Bruckman, 2002). The issue of anonymity in this case is inconsequential due to the accessible, public nature of the website. This also means I am not required to obtain any consent form the website owner. When analysing these pages I will be paying attention to the overall aesthetics and layout of the sites, taking into consideration the visual components, colours, images, hyperlinks and the language and typography used within them, measuring these variables to see if these examples support or go against common stereotypes and previous research into this area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Previous research in this area

It has been the case for many years that women and men are deemed as having entirely different styles of communicating, whether face to face or through the medium of the internet. Robert Lakoff (1773) is one of the leading theorist in this area. In his book ‘Language and a woman’s place’ he proposed a list of features seen in women’s speech that are missing in men’s, suggesting their language as less powerful. This list characterises features such as the use of tentative language, tag questions, hedges and indirect questionings in communication. It also includes the use of what he describes as ‘empty adjectives’; describing words like ‘gorgeous’ and ‘adorable’, features that are missing in male communication. He also points out a tendency for women to avoid course language. This assumption is supported by Debborah Tannen (1995), she states that males use a direct, forceful style of communication, whereas women tend to opt for a more indirect and intimate approach. However, this may only be applicable to face to face interaction and not differences online. In the journal of computer mediated communication there’s reference to a study carried out by Huffaker and Calvert (2005) entitled ‘Gender, Identity and Language use in Teen Blogs’. This study made the following hypothesis; males more so than females were more likely to give personal information out over the internet, that females use emoticons to express emotions more than males, that females are more inclined to discuss personal topics, males would be more likely to display aggressive language and women in comparison would use more passive language. Their findings and conclusions surprisingly showed no noteworthy differences. One result that nearly coincided with the hypothesis; that males did have a tendency to use more aggressive language. However, women’s language was not considered particularly passive or accommodating as Lakoff would suggest. Another paper published in this journal was ‘Gender in British Blogs’ (Pederson,Macafee, 2007). This was also interested in the language used in blogs, and in this example the authors found that women tended to engage in blog writing because of a social desire, whereas men, on the other hand, appeared to be more inclined by information observation and technical sophistication.  All of the research I have analysed is involved in the aspect of language differences, I also intend to analyse the visual differences in websites. In 2006 the Journal of Consumer Behaviour published a paper by Gunn et all which looked into the visual components of website design, the colors and images used and the gendered differences that crop up within this domain. This study noted the tendency for men to use straight lines in their designs and typography, whereas women in comparison tended to use rounded features. He also mentioned how both sexes tended to use images of their own sex on their websites. Gunn et all stated that women often use a variety of bright colors, whereas in contrast men usually restrained their sites to one or two shades.  The final point I wish to take from this study is that of the overall themes of the site; whilst it appears men tended to base their pages on more serious, technically sophisticated designs, women often opted for more light hearted backdrops. All of these studies show some insight into areas of my chosen topic. However, there seems to be a gap in the research for a study that looks into the influence of gender on websites as a whole, not just language in blogs or visual themes. With my study I hope to bridge this gap.

 

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A comparative study based on gender differences in websites and blogs.

 

The purpose of this assignment is to highlight the key differences of WebPages designed by males and females. It is a commonly noted stereotype that women tend to opt for brighter colours and talk more, whereas men have a tendency to demonstrate a more clinical, technical approach. It has been said that ‘rather than neutralising gender, the electronic medium in fact encourages its intensifications’ (Macafee & Pedersen, 2007). In the following series of blogs I intend to look into these presumptions and to ascertain whether these stereotypes are in fact creditable and an apparent feature of online interaction.  For reasons I will discuss in my methodology page I will be looking closely at four websites:

Taylor Swift, (Female, USA)  http://www.taylorswift.com/

Alexandra Burke, (Female, UK) http://www.alexandraburkeofficial.com

Justin Timberlake, (Male, USA)  http://www.justintimberlake.com/,

Robbie Williams, (Male, UK. ) http://www.robbiewilliams.com/

 

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