Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation - the RITE method - is a way to run lab-based studies that identify and fix as many issues as possible and then verify the effectiveness of those fixes in the shortest possible time. Testing and fixing happens in near real-time, so the whole team feels more involved in the outcome of the sessions.
Sometimes you can't do all the usability work yourself. Either there's too much work, it's highly boring work, it's highly specialist work, or the whole project is being outsourced. Here are some tips for choosing and working with vendors.
Field studies are great for seeing real user behavior and pain points. It's also important to get out and test your concepts "in the wild" before you get too invested in code. That's what intercept studies are for.
Clients often believe that you have to have a polished interface to show to users before you can get good feedback. Nothing is further from the truth. The most valuable feedback happens before you've even touched a computer.