It’s common practice for designers to make assumptions about the user and how they’ll interact with a product, in order to design something useful. We conduct usability tests to test those assumptions. If you’re unable to do so because of tight deadlines, lack of client support/finances, or whatever- here are some alternatives I recommend.
Developers also ask peers to review their work before it moves on to testing. I think it also makes sense for designers to do the same (whether you’re planning to test or not). It’s not enough to only show your peers because, as designers, we’re rarely the target audience- but it’s a start. Getting a second set of eyes on your work before you commit to it, is always a good idea.
You may also like: “A requirements gathering process that helps solve the right problems”
PHONE A FRIEND
While you’re not going to want to bug your inner circle every time you produce a new design- asking your friends and family for their feedback occasionally can be very helpful.
Assuming you have the client’s permission, you may even be able to share your work via your personal social media accounts or those of your agency.
ASK NON-TECH EMPLOYEES IN YOUR OFFICE
Designers and developers have a very niche way of viewing designs, and as a result their feedback may not represent a typical user. However, asking your Office Manager or others in HR and Sales for a few minutes of their time here and there can really help if you don’t have access to a group of actual users. Just make sure you have their manager’s permission before you take them away from their work!
The bottom line is that no matter how great you think your designs are, you will miss something. We’re only human and our assumptions can be wrong, so do your best to get other sets of eyes on your work before it’s out the door. You won’t be sorry!