I believe in combining the methodology of Agile development and Lean UX principles. You get the best of both worlds and the user reaps the benefits. It's the best way to align with development, product, and marketing/sales to achieve business goals.
UX is a process, not just a single piece in the puzzle.This is the process mockup I created while at Mitratech. I like being involved in molding the strategy around a design driven community and helping to create a design culture.
If you aren't talking to users, you are failing. It's a simple principle that is often neglected. Currently, I use virtual Working Groups, in-person shadowing days, direct 1:1 task-based user testing of prototypes, and more. There is no one way to research and test designs, but it must be done.
While a UX Designer is a problem solver at their core, in a group, they should take the role of Facilitator. A UX Designer should be sharing all their data and findings with cross-functional teams, inviting collaboration, and sharing knowledge of the user with everyone on the team. The best ideas come from these group interactions and help achieve team buy-in through collaboration.
UX Design is much more than deliverables but it is a key part of any designers toolbox. My main tools include: personas, sketches, storyboards, user flows, journey maps, wireframes, mockups and prototypes. In following with Lean UX priniciples, I don't use every tool on every project and I don't prescribe to the idea of pixel-perfect comps. I prefer to use the minimum amount needed to facilitate conversations with members of the team. In keeping with Agile, it should beindividuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Prototypes come in many forms but are the best way to test designs with users. I prefer to use interactive or clickable ones, if possible. Axure is my go-to tool for creating prototypes but there is no end to the tools available.