Yes, I know, it sounds very, very odd. Users, bah, just keeping everyone from doing really useful stuff. Users, always finding bugs that turn out to be not-so-well implemented features. Users, not understanding the big ideas powering the programs we develop and the time we spend. Users, still using that outdated 5-year-old version of a product just because they are used to it. Users, not willing to switch just for the sake of having switched. I don't understand it.
But it's users using ( and sometimes even buying ) software. And maybe you are involved at building a software product. I bet you consult your friends or fellow colleagues from time to time seeking input for a form, text, feature whatsoever. People who are just like you are the worst giving you advise on how to do something. I do have friends who are still pretty happy using zsh and rocking the world using the shell. But that's just not the majority.
Everytime I'm thinking about something cool in terms of a new project, I talk to my strategic consultants. I meet them when I'm at my parents house at dinner. They consist of: My father, my mother and my brother. And it sounds odd again, but explaining something to people who are potentially end-users, you'll get a clue about how useful your software idea is considered in an instant. And that's the kind of feedback I'm looking for. I know that most of my fellow students are used to the most weird kinds of application, expecting valuable feedback from them considering anything computer-related is like asking a priest for his opinion about the existence of god.
So my message at the end of the year is simple: Talk to users. Not only when it comes to usability testing ( which is also crucial ), but at just every step of your project. That's where the focus should be. For me that means: having dinner regularly. Nice, hm?