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Practicing Anthropology in User Experience, Design and Business

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User experience, design and business are perfect fields for anthropological practice, but what does it look like to work in them, and how do you get there in the first place? Amy will share her journey as a practicing anthropologist, touching on her transition from academia, work experience, use of anthropology skills, project examples, career reflections, and advice for those who are interested in this particular line of work.

Amy Santee is an independent user experience and design research consultant based in Portland, OR. Her work spans a breadth of sectors and industries, including retail, e-commerce, healthcare, computer hardware and software, consumer technology, automotive, insurance, home improvement, and community development. In addition to freelancing, she has worked within corporate, agency and start-up design teams. She combines her anthropology training with a user-centered design approach to solve real problems, advocate for people and their values, and help businesses feel confident in their decisions. She received her MA in Applied Anthropology from The University of Memphis (2011) and her BA in Anthropology from Eckerd College (2009). She blogs about business, design, anthropology and careers at www.anthropologizing.com.

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Practicing Anthropology in User Experience, Design and Business

  1. 1. PRACTICING ANTHROPOLOGY in User Experience Design & Business Amy Santee, Independent Consultant January 6, 2016
  2. 2. Agenda 1. A bit about me 2. Education & career history 3. UX, Design, Business & Anthropology 4. Project examples 5. Final thoughts
  3. 3. @amysantee @AmericanAnthro
  4. 4. A bit about me
  5. 5. 1 2 3 4
  6. 6. Practicing Anthropologist
  7. 7. Educational & career history
  8. 8. Consumer Researcher (corporate)2011-2012 UX Researcher / Consultant (agency) 2013-2014 Lead UX Researcher (corporate/start-up) 2014-2015 MA Applied Anthropology2009-2011 2004-2008 BA Anthropology UX Research Consultant (independent) July 2015 to present Amy Santee
  9. 9. MA Applied Anthropology2009-2011 Consumer Researcher (corporate)2011-2012 UX Researcher / Consultant (agency) 2013-2014 Lead UX Researcher (corporate/start-up) 2014-2015 2004-2008 BA Anthropology UX & Design Research Consultant (freelance) July 2015 to present Consulting FoundationalLearning { RealWorldLearning { = Level of Understanding of Doing Anthropology
  10. 10. user experience, design & business Working in
  11. 11. My role: User Experience (ux) Researcher
  12. 12. User Experience Research Research that is done to understand and inform the experiences people have when interacting with a product, service or system.
  13. 13. User-Centered Design (UCD) The most well-designed products and services result from understanding the people who will use them. UCD puts people at the core of design decisions. It considers their needs, goals, values and feedback in the design process.
  14. 14. In buildings like this… (used to work here) On corporate campuses like this… (used to work here, too) A lot of design and business decisions 
 get made in rooms like this…
  15. 15. Many of the most successful organizations employ a UCD process
  16. 16. • Not a straightforward path How I got into this field of work • Undergraduate • Qualitative research • Grad school • Culture and consumerism • Recession • Consumer Research at State Farm • Exposure to User Experience and Usability • Explored this further • Portland • Empirical • SpendWell • Freelance Photo: Isaac Sachs
  17. 17. User Experience Research Research that is done to understand and inform the experiences people have when interacting with a product, service or system.
  18. 18. … Who are the people who (might) use our product? What are they like? What do they care about? What are their needs, preferences, values, goals, motivations?
 … How might the product/service solve their problems?
 … What would make it relevant and meaningful (i.e., valuable)?
 … Is it usable and learnable?
 … How do people currently interact with and experience the product/service? UX & Design Research seek to address the following questions:
  19. 19. The outputs of UX research are information, insights and tools for design and business decision-making.
  20. 20. Why do User Experience Research? 10 Outcomes
  21. 21. Outcome #1 Get people a seat at the table with business, technology and design.
  22. 22. Outcome #2 Design or improve a product or service based on an understanding of the people who interact 
 with it.
  23. 23. Outcome #3 Make sure the things we design meet people’s needs, solve their problems, and fit into their lives.
  24. 24. Outcome #4 Validate and disprove our assumptions about people and the value of a product or service. Design based on data, not guesses.
  25. 25. Outcome #5 Identify problems and opportunities that are not obvious.
  26. 26. Outcome #6 Have a better idea of how to design a product or service, and know what not to do.
  27. 27. Outcome #7 Provide direction for design and business decisions to minimize risk, maximize success, and differentiate from competitors.
  28. 28. Outcome #8 Save money. It’s more expensive to fix things after they’ve been designed or developed.
  29. 29. Outcome #9 Remind ourselves we are not designing for . . . ourselves.
  30. 30. Outcome #10 Build a culture of empathy within organizations.
  31. 31. anthropology & UX, design + biz
  32. 32. Anthropology is the study of the human experience. It’s about understanding people. Anthropology Design Value Usefulness Relevance + =
  33. 33. photo of book pile
  34. 34. Perspective Approach Skills & Tools project examples
  35. 35. Perspective Holistic Empathy Interpretive Cultural/social Cross-cultural People-centered Insider/outsider Healthy skepticism Detail-oriented Process-oriented Results-oriented Open-minded Value-added Contextual Curious Ethical
  36. 36. Approach Critical Iterative Creative Systematic Advocacy Collaborative Participatory Multi-method Inductive Deductive Immersive Resourceful Engagement Problem-solving Systems thinking Knowledge-building
  37. 37. Skills & Tools Theory Concepts Research Storytelling Rapport-building Learning Observing Planning Analysis Listening Managing Digging deep Pattern recognition Understanding and framing problems Making sense of complexity
  38. 38. Contextual interview Contextual observation Photo diaries 1:1 Interviews Video diaries Research Methods Card sort Usability test Participatory design research Task analysis Remote interview Group interview Surveys Analytics
  39. 39. project examples
  40. 40. Redesign of Medical Terminology Editing Software
  41. 41. Wine Shop Customer Experience
  42. 42. Ethnographic Study of the Relationship Between Social Capital and Health
  43. 43. Prototype Testing and Vehicle Owner Interviews in Shanghai, China
  44. 44. Various Usability and UX research studies for mobile and desktop hardware
  45. 45. Digital Stylus Use for Productivity, Art and Design
  46. 46. Area Rug Shopping Experience
  47. 47. Insurance Agent Office Ethnography Call Center Process Improvement Online Insurance Shopping Experience Product Naming
  48. 48. Exploratory Study of Android Developers in Germany, China and Brazil
  49. 49. Various UX and Usability Studies for SpendWell Health
  50. 50. What’s helped me along the way
  51. 51. Learning skills that anthropology didn’t teach me Immersing myself in UX, design, business, technology Collaborating with other roles Professional events, meetups, conferences Understanding business culture Adapting methods and approaches Explaining research to non-researchers Learning to convince people to pay for it Actionable, tangible results Variation in experience, roles, industries Being flexible and OK with uncertainty Reminding myself that I’m there to fill a business need Letting go of the ideal From Anthropology to UX, Design + Biz
  52. 52. Academic anthropology is “pure” anthropology. Applied anthropology isn’t theoretical enough. Applied anthropology isn’t intellectually stimulating. 6 Myths Business is evil and you’re a horrible person if you work there. You can’t make any money doing anthropology. Florida doesn’t need more anthropologists - Rick Scott. WRONG
  53. 53. Doing Meaningful Work Using my anthropology training to solve challenging problems Being creative and working with technology Having an impact with my work Helping design things that are valuable, useful and relevant, that meet real needs and solve real problems Advocating for people, convincing others to listen
 Helping businesses succeed in a competitive world
  54. 54. I encourage… students to explore a career in UX, Design and Business professors to learn more about this field businesses to hire more anthropologists
  55. 55. amylaurensantee@gmail.com @amysantee www.amysantee.com .com Thank you!

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