Validation. That’s what it’s all about really.
The true benefit of a user centric design (UCD) approach to product design is that there will be far fewer surprises following a product or feature launch if the correct users have already been identified and collaborated throughout the process.
The key is validating the major steps with users and subject matter experts. The key to that is of course identifying the user groups and key personas, their day-to-day challenges and the context in which the product or feature is going to be used in. For example: Is this the one challenge they face today? or how frequently? or what other products and services are they using before and after? How have they approached this in the past?
This is key throughout the ideation / design / build stages and the iterations thereof. It is said no plan survives first contact with your enemies – great product plans survive contact with their users because they’ve been listened to and collaborated with from the very start.