For the past three years I have been researching how to expand the use of new media to new audiences - females in particular. Repeatedly, I have come up against three factors which prevent this expansion: money (or the reluctance to invest same in new markets) and fear, both of artistic diversity and of risk. Of the three, it is the money which holds greatest sway.
I find that industry people who profess to be interested in my research are loath to accept this analysis. When I lecture on gender and interactivity, it always seems to me that the corporate decision-makers would prefer me to give them a recipe for a sure-fire hit for women, and bypass the work necessary to create one. They would rather hear anything than the real solution to the problem: putting their money where their mouth is and making a significant investment in developing new products that will attract new markets.
It would be easy enough for me to stand up yet again and give yet another two-hour lecture on gender differences, all facts well established in the social science community, and the impact these differences could and should have on interactive design. My thesis and conclusions would, as ever, be relevant, intellectually intriguing, and provide useful tools for discussing current and potential product lines. However, a good lecture does not automatically lead to its realisation in good products.
If anybody out there is seriously listening, and intends to act on it, here's my advice on how to capture a new audience:
Remember - the road to Doom is littered with the corpses of failed experimental products. Have the courage to get on the road again, heading for a new market, and your sales will soar by the untapped 52% of the world's market - women.
Heidi Dangelmaier AND Hi-D