In itself the involvement of users in the design process is no guarantee of a successful product or service. Reliance on users alone to guide you to the “right answer”, means you could be in for a long and winding design journey.
Designers must be prepared to develop and test paradigms. Failure to do this means you’ll yo-yo for an elongated period of time, and have little of any substance with which to get any meaningful user feedback.
I have been in a number of infuriating situations recently (generally design committee situations) where the team has shrunk from taking any responsibility for making a decision and instead asked to get the users help in making the decision.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t involve users. Nor am I saying make firm decisions before you involve users. But I am saying that if you are singularly incapable of making a step in any direction until you get confirmation from a user that you’re going in the right direction, you might consider a new profession!
You need to take a step before I can tell you if you’re going in the right direction!
Users guide and inform decisions, but it is the responsibility of the designer and/or business to actually make the decisions. Yes they can be tough, but with user involvement you’ll get their pretty quickly provided you are prepared to ask the tough questions and create materials that enable users to inform the decision. After all you are getting paid for it, the user isn’t.