UX designers combine desk-based and field research to get a full picture of who they are designing for.
This might include reviewing what the current website has to offer, interviewing existing users to look for opportunities and pain points and doing competitor research to see what else is out there.
These tasks will enable the UX designer to pinpoint the core features needed for the Minimum Viable Product and start drafting some initial personas.
Once the designer completes this process, they then refine the content needed, working out the information architecture and site map and begin paper prototypes.
Paper prototypes are very rough sketches which can be shown to colleagues and quickly and easily improved.
After paper prototypes come wireframes, user testing and plenty of iterating.
Wireframes typically go through many stages and there is no right or wrong way of doing them.
They often start as very basic black and white designs, moving on to interactive designs where users can navigate between the different pages like they will with the final product, to high-res designs which give the user a really clear idea of what the final product could look like.
Each stage is punctuated with user testing and iterations.
From here, the design is handed off to the UI Designer who can complete the visual components such as branding, fonts and color palette.