Design research is the foundation of this user-centered process. The process we use to complete this stage is cyclical. Solutions are initially proposed to solve the problem, next a design solution is created and then prototyped. After being tested against its target audience the process repeats to glean more insight and better solutions.
When the concept idea are discussed in the early stages of development many important decisions are made. There are also many competing ideas that should be tested from a user perspective. Before too many resources have been spent on the actual creation, you want to be confident that this is a worthwhile endeavor. It can be difficult to actually let participants interact with a system that is only based in storyboards, mood boards, or sketches. This is why we have innovative UX methods to help test during this creation phase.