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So What Exactly IS a High-Tech Anthropologist®?

By Laura Elliot, August 21, 2017

@E.G. Nadhan asked a great question: So what do High-Tech Anthropologists® DO?

I wish this was an easy question to answer. And on the one hand, it is. At a high level, High-Tech Anthropologists® @MenloInnovations are a combination of user research, user experience and design.

But language is such a funny thing, isn’t it? User experience to one person means something completely different to another. So, I’m going to talk about what a High-Tech Anthropologist® (HTA) IS instead of what we DO.

An HTA is, at their core, curious. They are the people who hear coffee shop patrons ask “is this the end of the line?” and begin to wonder how to expedite and clarify the checkout experience. They’re creative. They’re the ones that, instead of seeing a 404 error, see a mini-dinosaur game in its place. And, more than anything else, they’re empathetic. Instead of labeling struggling users as “dummies”, they recognize the fault of an incomprehensible design. They see employees in businesses doing their best to complete the tasks put before them despite a multitude of obstacles in the form of bottleneck systems and software and they strive to improve the experience.

Whether the improvements come in the form of software or process change, High-Tech Anthropologists work to make users’ lives easier through extensive, in-the-field research founded on the basis and perspective of empathy. And they leverage those insights to create systems with invisible design that fades into the background and lets users do the jobs they were hired to do, uninhibited by the tools they’re using.

Want to learn more about High-Tech Anthropology? Check out our website here or, if you're interested in some hands-on, in-person experience, you can attend one of our workshops!