The reason why building usable stuff makes me so happy is because I love to help others. I care about others achieving their goals and having a good time while doing so. To design usable products I put myself in the shoes of the user and take over their view. The Double Diamond process shown in the graphic above is a way of tackling projects in an informed manner and was created by The British Design Council. In short it aims to first understand before implementing a solution. You can find an excellent summary on it over at ThoughtWorks.
In terms of UX methods I use Interviews, Personas, Field Studies, Design Workshops and Brainstorming to understand the users needs.
With that understanding I draw Story Boards, do Card Sorting and Tree Testing, Wireframes and Mockups and Low-Fi Prototypesin Lab Studies to narrow down on a practical product design.
During the implementation I design the Interface, keep in touch with the devs and test High-Fi Prototypes in Lab Studies to verify the design.
Because I rarely get the freedom (read: budget) to run a perfect all-you-can-eat UX scenario I choose the most effective methods that provide the best results with a reasonable effort depending on the type of project, the scale and the budget. With smaller projects I might just do a stakeholder interview, a short persona workshop and a Lab Study on the current website while bigger projects will have prototypes, can be iterative and I usually join the dev team in their agile development process.
You can find more on how I've apply these methods in my work examples.