Assess the strengths and weaknesses of competitors against your user's needs.
Capture user behavior, pain points, motivations, and needs from contextual inquires. Group into logical pillars. Map out product features for each pillar to identify gaps, opportunities, and feature bloat.
Identifies user's thought process and desired reactions toward each task flow segment
Visually depict scenarios with storyboards. The storyboard should show the context, the problem, the user's fears / motivations, and how the problem will be solved. I use tools like Bitstrips to quickly create these storyboards.
Visually communicate abstract concepts with users and team members to generate feedback.
Quickly develop interactive prototypes with tools like JustInMind or Axure. This lets the team easily distribute and observe exactly how well the product will be received before the product gets built.
Apply product branding, grid structure, typography, color scheme, and icons.