ArsTechnica writer Casey Johnson this weekend documents some of the silliness, and actual harm, that occurs in the tech world when it comes to designing products for women, and how product designers can avoid it:

The poorly thought-out tech product for women hardly needs an introduction. Rare is the week that goes by without a company (or a Kickstarter) deciding that there just aren't enough products for women amid the macho-dominated technology landscape and rolling out a new pink monstrosity.

I definitely recall when some of the products listed in the article came out and the eye rolling that ensued. The Microsoft R&D Bra that absurdly tried to determine emotions to help prevent stress related over eating. The ePad Femme which included features described by Lindy West as "weight loss tips, skinniness assistants, svelte-boday tools, and buns managers." And we all know what pens real women use.

Casey has some solid snark in here:

Many people, not just women, like things that are designed well, and many people, not just women, will avoid buying something if it is not appealing. If you are a man, think back to a point in your life when you were shopping and said, "This thing is nice, but it's hideous and appears to have been designed by an alien merely guessing at how humans work—therefore pass." Were you, at that time, a woman?


And pairs it up with this flowchart which I think should have specified "desirable to women" in the title to clarify its intent, but does a pretty good job summing up the article:


Of course, even when things are designed to be simpler for the masses and not specifically for women, you might get charged as creating an effeminate product anyway, as Petticoat Despot pointed out months ago.