I have worked closely with UER at AOL Time Warner,, and Yahoo! on products that give designers direction and answers. I have also conducted everything from paper prototype tests to more advanced studies in the field. From large corporations to survey interviews at starbucks, there is always a way to get feedback to help direction.
First research the problem...
Find out where this problem has been seen before on other web sites and how it was solved. Look out my specific requirements and see if any other solutions currently used will be able to work for me. If no, then a new approach may need to be taken.
Make sure I know my target user...
Make sure that the team is all on board with the current user base and begin to build a persona around that user. This helps in the process of design to keep people in check with the target audience.
Review my requirements...
The requirements will include schedule and resources, features and "wishlists".

Begin sketching frameworks and light wireframes...
This may involve a quick block flows and diagrams that give me an idea of how the pieces effect other parts of a product.
Conduct any kind of testing if time permits...
Of course this is the bread and butter of design. Wether it be paper prototypes or a more functional prototype, the information gathered from these tests are highly valueble for solving internal disagreements and to give me a better direction how I need to refine my design.
I have conducted testing inside labs and also out in field studies.
Refine wireframes and clean up the design...
This process usually is considered "detailing". It is when we have all agreed on the architecture and which pages are needed in a product flow. Usually at this point all business objectives are accounted for and we are just refining with a front end developer to get the design looking right. Once the design is 95% done, I will work closely with a visual designer to make sure the design makes sense graphically.

Yahoo! Membership Team
Reviewing designs
Yahoo! Hack Day test
Concept design meeting for MyAOL
Reviewing designs with QA
Various documents I have produced to help display findings in a visual way for others to easily look at and understand the scope of work. Below is a snippet of one such document.
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