UX Crash Course: Stupid Question 10 of 30

As the designer, your personal perspective becomes a “lens” through which you see the world, other people, and your designs. Whether that is a good thing or not. So today we will answer:

“Will men click a pink icon?”


Just starting the Crash Course? Start here!


As tempting as it is to get into a discussion about gender stereotypes, that’s not actually what this question is about.

Sort of.


The Stupid Answer:

Ew! Pink icons have cooties! Gross! Get it away!


The Real Answer:

Men will absolutely click pink icons. Carry on. 


Why this isn’t a stupid question:
Beginners don’t see details in context.

This might be a little tricky to explain, like when you sent that “selfie” to the wrong person on Snapchat, but I’ll give it a shot.

When you first start to learn something, or when you don’t understand something, your brain is much better at seeing the obvious, concrete details, rather than the not-so-obvious big picture.

So you will see the color of the buttons, or the size of the logo, or the choice of words in the headline.

And then you’ll spend hours over-thinking them, and come up with questions like this one.

You won’t, however, see the structure of the page, or the consistency of branding, or the user’s psychological motivations at work.


Men won’t see an icon as “girly” unless you tell them to.

Lots of sites use a pink/red/purple heart as the symbol for “liking” something, including Tumblr.

It doesn’t seem to be hurting them so far.

If you put a headline above the pink icon that says “Click here pretty boy, and we’ll tell all your friends you’re a weak little puff ball” — you might have an issue.

But that’s actually the idea I want to explain.

The icon itself, or the color you choose, are just obvious little details. You are adding gender stereotypes to them in your own head, and then worrying that other people will do the same.

Your therapist might call that projecting.

Users have better shit to do than sitting around contemplating the deeper meanings of your color choices.

“I want to use Tinder, but the color of their download button makes me insecure about my manhood.” — said no one ever.

If you use text or images or something else to make your website feel like it’s a “girls only” place (or “women only” as the case may be), then sure, very few men will feel like it’s for them. But then again, they clearly aren’t the target audience, so it’s all good.

If that pink icon is just part of the brand’s built-in flair — like on a gambling site, or blogging site, or social media, or a dating app, or a company that sells fruit or energy drinks, or whatever — 99% of men won’t even think about it.


The function of the button is the big picture. 

A pink icon doesn’t represent the user. It represents a function.

Whether they click it or not depends on what the pink icon does for them. 

If the button lets people like something, or save something for later, or vote for something, then they will click it — if they want to like, save, or vote.

So don’t focus on whether men will click a pink icon. Focus on whether men — or anyone else — want to do what that pink icon represents.


Tomorrow we will get into UX Strategy by answering: “Is sketching useful?”