While the previous statement is well-intentioned (and I am certainly glad the value of design is now accepted mainstream for the most part), it’s starting to become cliche. It’s getting watered down. We used to have to fight for it, and I think it was the fight that made us work harder to prove to clients, execs, investors and ourselves...that we are doing the right thing.
As designers, we leverage research and other tools like personas to build empathy in order to understand and design experiences. We follow how others in our craft do it and leverage the patterns that emerge. However, I still find that for launching a new digital product, the most fundamental tool at our design disposal is often neglected. Many of the designers I talk to across the globe are still reluctant to do real user research early in the process. Mostly they say they believe in the benefits fully, but their actions (or lack thereof) don't match their words.
Testing early concepts with real users can provide confidence or expose grave weakness in your design approach, but how realistic should your prototype be and how early is too early in the process to talk to people?