For products ostensibly aimed at adult women, period-tracking apps look awfully like the girls’ aisle of a toy store. Hearts. Pink. Flowers. Pink flowers!
Is this really what women want?
At last, someone has bothered to even ask the question. Daniel Epstein and Nicole Lee were sitting in a cafe wondering what women wanted out of period-tracking apps when they realized that no one—at least no one in the academic field of human-computer interaction—had studied it.
“I actually half-jokingly bet Daniel that nobody had done research on the topic, because I’m just so used to women’s-health issues and such not being covered,” said Lee, who works in the tech industry. Epstein, a graduate student studying self-tracking tools at the University of Washington, didn’t believe it. “He was like, ‘No it’s such an obvious research topic… surely lots of people must have studied it.’” Of course, she was right.
So along with UW colleagues, they devised a study to analyze reviews of period-tracking apps—including Glow, Eve, Clue, P. Tracker, and Life—as well as survey and interview users. They’re presenting the results at a conference next week.
The verdict on pink flowers? Fewer please. Three times as many reviews they analyzed deemed the feminine designs negative compared to positive. Many of those reviews were actually for Clue, an app that distinguishes itself in being especially non-pink and gender neutral. People were embarrassed to look at their period apps in public. “If your app is really pink and you’re trying to track where you are in a public place, that can be really uncomfortable,” said Epstein.
It’s not just the color, I might add, but the whole design that tends toward girlishness. It’s one thing for an app to be tastefully pink. (Don’t you know Millenials love pink now?) It’s another for it to feel like you’ve put on a backpack and jumped into a field of cartoon flowers with Dora the Explorer.