Back in November Jason Fried (CEO of Basecamp) published a treasure trove of an article detailing how they, the team, structure their work. If you haven’t read it yet stop what you’re doing and take a few minutes to do so. I took a few moments after my third reading to dig through the comments. In response to a question about user testing Jason responded with this:
We don’t do formal usability testing. We build things we’re happy with and ship them. If things turn out to be truly terrible, we reconsider fixes, tweaks, and adjustments for the next cycle. We’ve found that shipping is the best way to get real answers — we don’t like setting up artificial environments. [Source]
If you have an automated deployment workflow (you have that, don’t you?) and your team has the talent to know what customers want, then what keeps you from just shipping?