Many times we are called into a usability project to “make things better”. Usually this results in us going backwards towards the original intention or requirements for the thing or task, and then looking at what has changed. In other words, “make it better” means finding out
- What was it like before?
- What is it like now?
- Is that good or bad?
- What do we want to change?
Once we know these things, we can go about exploring user experience. It would be… unwise to start the research before knowing background and strategy. If we did, we may find some interesting or useful research, but it wouldn’t necessarily be as useful for intentionally matching the user experience to company goals.
It is kind of like driving. When you start driving you will probably see some interesting stuff, but it is usually more constructive to know where you are and where you want to go before starting the car.