The general timeline to solving a puzzle
Solving puzzles involves several steps, though many puzzles emphasize some steps, and potentially eliminate some steps. The genre of a game is often defined by the overall puzzle timeline structure, rather than the mechanics of the puzzle itself.
In a rather rough order, the player must perform these steps:
Assume everything in this reference is a working draft, there's prone to be some mistakes and inconsistencies. I figure it's best to publish and get feedback rather than write for years in secret. The terms will change, the structure will shift, and the bugs will be chased out. It'll take a while.