We caught up with him to cover topics as diverse as mentoring, good design, and even Concorde.
If you’d like to take part in our ‘Day in the Life’ interviews, get in touch.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Richard Trigg: I’m the Experience Design Director at Tangent. In simple terms, that means I help clients make their digital products easier to use by identifying problems and fixing them.
The team and I typically get involved with three types of projects:
- Streamlining paths through digital products by testing different solutions
- Reimagining and transforming existing customer experiences
- Exploring if new technologies could help clients better serve their customers
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Richard Trigg: I’m a member of the leadership team and report directly to the Managing Partner, Oli Green.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Richard Trigg: The strange thing about being a design leader is you find yourself doing less of what made you successful in the first place – design. The role becomes about fostering the creativity of others, which requires a different skillset. Leading designers is not easy. They can be an emotional and passionate bunch; over-confident or lacking in confidence. All hell can break loose the moment a client pushes them in a direction that doesn’t match their ideals.
To be a successful design leader you need to be good at…
Mentoring – Designers like to progress. They need to be taught how to empathise, design, collaborate, communicate, present and sell.
Diplomacy – Design is hard, it’s easy for teams or people to clash. You have to be sensitive to everyone’s feelings and find resolutions when there are disagreements.
Positivity – Life in an agency has its ups and downs, we can’t afford to get down if we lose a pitch. You have to refocus the team onto the next opportunity and make sure we all learn from our mistakes.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Richard Trigg: I run in the mornings 3-4 times a week. If I’m struggling with a specific problem, I find running helps clear my mind. I often have my best ideas whilst running, it’s my secret weapon for creativity.
After I’ve grabbed my post-run coffee, I spend 50% of my time supporting the team. The day starts with a standup to discuss plans for the day and any blockers we need to overcome. The guys and gals then retire back to their project teams and lean on me for support if necessary. We hold design critiques throughout the day to review with clients, product owners and developers. My working day also involves a lot of new business. I spend the other 50% of my time responding to RFPs, pitching and talking to clients about design at Tangent.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Richard Trigg: The thing I love most about being a designer is having the opportunity to find better ways to do things. Changes in technology mean things move so fast. In the space of 10 years I’ve gone from designing static websites, to apps, to responsive sites and now conversational AI. I’m fascinated to see what we will be designing in 2029. The thing that sucks: making it to the final last two agencies in a pitch and losing. It happens, for all kinds of reasons, but it’s about how you move on from that experience and how to get it right the next time around.
How did you end up at Tangent, and where might you go from here?
Richard Trigg: I actually trained as an industrial designer but landed my first job at BA (British Airways) working on branding and graphic design projects. It was great fun working on the Concorde relaunch, but I was more interested in digital so started looking for a change. I moved to London and rose through the ranks at several digital agencies working on clients including GSK, L’Oréal, Deloitte, Coca-Cola and even Miss World! I finally found my true calling when human-centered design and UX started becoming popular in digital design. I remember doing my first usability test and it being a light bulb moment. The value of design was now measurable; the impact good design could have on business value was becoming clear.
I spent the next few years practicing human-centered design and ended up leading the UX team at Decibel (a MarTech startup). I met our managing partner, Oli Green at an event and really liked the sound of what he was doing over at Tangent. A few months later (and many conversations) Tangent acquired me and my team from Decibel for £1m. Fast forward two years and the future at Tangent is looking great. We’ve built an impressive cross disciplinary design and tech team and are working on a really nice mixture of projects. The plan from here is to keep going, we’re definitely not done yet!
Which customer experiences have impressed you lately?
Richard Trigg: Someone once said to me ‘Good design is invisible, bad design is everywhere’ and it’s so true. A good customer experience should be invisible. Good design just looks ‘right’ without being obvious to the user. Without fuss. I’m not going to list off the latest trending apps or start-ups and profess that they deliver amazing customer experiences. An experience is a personal thing and what works for me might not work for someone else.