Anthropology and User Experience



Many of you probably have already adopted design thinking without knowing it. Article written by Juliette Andrew, UX researcher and anthropologist, explained this thought very well. The case of not knowing seem to be most common among anthropologist, people who are well educated for the job of user experience research. Once you sit and read everything on this topic, you take a break and think:”wow, who has created this perfect anthropological job?!” I was one of these not knowing nearly graduated anthropologists. Also, it takes some time until you get it that not only academic anthropology is a “real anthropology”. There are many ways to do anthropology outside of academia and to do it even more real than between four walls of essay writing.

For that reason, I decided to write about some of the tools that I found out on the internet while reading every possible article about design thinking. I want to dedicate this article for those who want to try themselves in this anthropological field.

Design thinking is all about empathy and putting the customer in the center (human-centered design). “New jobs” such as user experience design (UX design) or user experience research (UX research) are actually based on the design thinking methodology. In favor of putting a customer in the center of your research, you have to emphasize, to go through the ideation phase, to make a prototype of your new idea and then to test it. All of this you should do with the client and here is the difference. Design thinking is an opportunity to break a gap between the one who is creating and the one for whom designer is creating.

Digital user experience research tools

Design thinking is a more humane way of observing the customers. Also, design thinking is a team game which gives space for discussion and true listening. High energy, interdisciplinary approach, and creativity are also of essential importance. New or renewed companies, firms and start-ups decided to approach customers like creators of their need. This is also one of the favorite topics of media anthropology and anthropology of economy – how people’s needs or better desires are being created.  In order to correct this narrowed way of doing research and creating products, teams of designers, engineers, anthropologist, sociologist and similar fields gathered together. As a result, a lot of digital research tools appeared. Most of them are free, very useful and quite cool.

An excellent example is a start-up named “Typeform”. Typeform team created a set of newly designed questionnaires for marketing researchers. This is an amazing example of newly developed companies with a completely different attitude towards job, team relations, space organization and validation of creativity and productivity.

Another interesting and very useful online platform which is helpful as digital user research tool is 24tru. This platform helps researchers to get insights of user’s everyday life and habits by following their dairies. Here we come to the field of visual anthropologist also very common for the anthropologists. Anthropologist often collect photos, videos as a material for further analysis or as a material for an ethnographic film, photo essay, etc. Visual anthropology is a regular training in many BA studies of anthropology in Europe. What I want to emphasize is that anthropologist already “invented” what is has now considered one of the most important digital tools for the user experiences research. Be smart and use visual anthropological methods while doing a research for your future employer.

Another interesting online platform for testing design products, mainly websites structure, is a UsabilityHub. I applied myself for a paid tester community. I did this on purpose of finding out how designers create tests and how possibly this tests could be improved. At Usabilityhub user can choose between simple preferences testing (you are offered to choose between two options), five seconds test (just in five seconds customers are supposed to observe the landing page and then they are asked about a certain elements), Navigation test (this test helps designers to determine the most logical and suitable points on the website for clicking in order to continue researching or proceeding).

There are many online platforms you can use during your user experience research. Remember that these are just helping tools you can add to the existence anthropological knowledge you gained during the BA and MA degree. Good luck, you have hands full of work!


Links that can help you find out more about design thinking

Stanford Webinar –


Design for Change India –  

Resources for educators


Digital tools (IDEO lab)




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