The Social Significance of Gender Codes in Current Web Design






design process, gender-specific design, composition, gender-sensitive design, gender stereotypes


The article highlights gender codes in design, particularly in web design, by means of current examples. Different aspects of gender-specific design are looked at in detail and their inherent problems discussed: on the one hand the development of a special solution (gender-specific for women), on the other hand, web design with reduced functionality and simplification of information (i.e. image representation) which sometimes even leads to a negation of technology. The article illustrates that gender codes and stereotypical role models can be embodied on different design levels of web design (use and artefact): in structure/navigation, in creative elements by the use of shape, colour and imagery and on a textual level. These design decisions have an impact on the power of users to act, their individual gender identity and the structural gender identity/social perception of gender. The article demonstrates that gender codes in current web design are very present and aims to sensitize the topic.

How to Cite

Becker, K., & Herling, C. (2019). The Social Significance of Gender Codes in Current Web Design. Cubic Journal, 2(2), 14–31.



Author Biographies

Katja Becker, Westfälische Hochschule

Katja Becker is professor of media and interface design at Westfälische Hochschule (Westphalian University of Applied Sciences). She teaches design research, design management and UX design and is director of beau bureau design (Cologne), a studio focusing on corporate design. Katja’s main interests are gender design, social design and innovation processes. She co-edited the book Young German Design Fresh Ideas in Graphic Design (2009) and was a Professor and Central Representative for Gender Equality at Hochschule Hamm-Lippstadt, a visiting lecturer at Jade Hochschule.

Claudia Herling, TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences

Claudia Herling is director of the Digitale Frische design studio (Cologne) and a visiting lecturer in design at the Aachen University of Applied Sciences and the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. With her studio, she focuses on graphic design, web design and illustration. She is also a freelance translator and author (index logo, 2005 and 2008; index illustration 2009, mitp) and vice chair of iGDN e.V. Germany. Claudia graduated in design from the Köln International School of Design (KISD).


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