You'd never run into battle blindly right? Neither would I.
At kick-off, talking to your stakeholders is an easy way to get a feel for where they think are now and where they think want to be. Interviewing users at this point helps with generative research uncovering places where I may want to look for Discovery and inspiration. Just looking at the interviews, you can start noticing some interesting patterns to dissect further.
Data is invaluable. You can start seeing discrepancies and between what you’ve heard and what is actually happening. The research includes quantitative data from analytics platforms, as well as assessment of content, heuristics, and more. This should explore both the performance of the current concept and of others in the space.
Searching for inspiration in areas mentioned during research spanning features, functionality, branding, and strategy. I typically present my findings coupled with workshops as part of my process, however in instances where workshopping is not possible, I may produce a findings document with my recommendations.