Anthropology has been around for centuries, with scientists and specialists studying human behavior, culture and interactions in this field that cuts across biological science, social sciences and the humanities. High-tech anthropology is the new-age version that throws computing and technology into the fray.
What does it entail?
User testing has been around as long as some technology has, but blending the methods of anthropology and new-age testing to create a new field of high-tech anthropology is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Under this method, a team of high-tech anthropologists study people in their native environment. By observing how the target audience behaves in the usage environment, firms can tailor their offering to make a stronger impact. A typical high-tech anthropology group will comprise a mix of user interface design specialists, technical experts and business analysts.
Observation ultimately lies at the heart of high-tech anthropology, just as it does for traditional anthropological study. Techniques like mind mapping and workflows are used in the process.
High-tech anthropology: Observing end-users in their native environment
High-tech anthropology is used by creators of new technology to observe people in their native work environment to understand how they are likely to use the new technology under normal circumstances. By visiting them in their native environment, high-tech anthropologist can make observations, ask questions and research the end-user, their work and usage patterns. These verbal and nonverbal cues that high-tech anthropologists pick-up on, can be factored in during the design and development stage or to fine tune the final offering before it hits the market.
Creating better products and technology
High-tech anthropology can be used by organizations to observe their potential users or buyers. By carefully watching how they interact with technology, understanding their workplace challenges, the problems they face, a service provider or product firm can design a thoughtful product that eases their problems.
It can also help them spot potential challenges with a product already under development. In case certain problem areas or possible difficulties or hindrances with usage are identified, this is then applied back to make suitable adaptations to the new product. Designs and solutions can be assessed in a partnership with the end-user, upping the relevance of the final solution to prospective buyers.
Better user experience
The ultimate goal of high-tech anthropology is to help create a happier, more fulfilling user experience. By creating a solution that takes into account ground realities, technologies can see better uptake and quicker adoption. This could come by way of something as simple as selecting the right imagery or color palettes to improve the mood of the user when engaging with certain new technology. It could be a tweak that cuts out unnecessary features. The options are limitless.
The biggest win however, is an intangible one. For a user to see that a solution has taken into account their genuine concerns or likes or dislikes can do more for a brand than any slick marketing brochure ever will. And that’s what makes high-tech anthropology such a compelling area which is set to scale new heights.