Here’s a quick process graph, of how to think about integrating the user into your development of something new — whether it’s a software product, a brochure or pamphlet, or a service offering.
Checking in early via user interviews helps confirm that you’re on the right path in your challenge area & design brief. Then later, testing will ensure that your prototype has value & the right features and content.
But you cannot rely on your users for creativity or key insights. You as the practitioner (and your team) need work time independent of users’ feedback to to reflect on what you’ve learned from users, your own research, and ideas you have. The practitioner needs to make the creative leaps to figure out what to do next, and how to make the development not just acceptable but inspired.
The process is a balance of carefully tuning into users’ preferences, then hunkering down to let your creativity come out.