Life as a User Experience Consultant: Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders is Torchbox's Head of UX Research, championing UX across the agency.

Hailing from the South West countryside, Tom has spent the past 12 years working in design, development and communications for charities and non-profit organisations. When not helping the good guys, Tom can be found heading for the hills in search of a new cycling route. 

Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders

To give people an idea of what life at Torchbox is like, we sat down with Tom to find out what he gets up to inside and outside of work. 

Tell us a few random facts about yourself:

  • My favourite film is Ghostbusters.
  • I designed my first website (for a local band) at the age of 14 using Macromedia Flash...
  • I used to have an Apple Macintosh Performa (way before Apple was cool).
  • As a teenager, I got fired from a job working in a kitchen because my trousers were too baggy.

Why did you choose to work for Torchbox?

Torchbox's 'digital for the good' ethos was a major draw for me. I’ve always worked for charities and non-profits. Working for Torchbox, I get the best of both worlds. I get the opportunity to work on a diverse set of project in a fast-paced agency environment, whilst still doing work that feels like it’s contributing to something positive.

Post its

Post-it note taking

What do you enjoy most about working at Torchbox?

My favourite part of the job is talking with the people who use the sites, services and products we work on. It’s always great to hear from users that a particular idea or improvement is going to have a positive impact on someone’s life.

I also love that I get to learn about so much. I can tell you about local authority provision for youth homelessness, the experiences of people living with various different medical, health and social needs, the history of the Roman Baths and what an Olympic swimming coach gets up to on an average day. As a self-confesed lifelong learner, having the opportunity to learn about so many different topics is massively rewarding.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in your job recently?

I went to Philadelphia to work with a client, which was a great experience. It’s a fantastic city. Equally, I’ve spent the last couple of months working on a project for a charity which I’ve always respected and supported. 

Tom Saunders - Philidelphia

Tom working in Philidelphia

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

User Experience (UX) practitioners tend to have really diverse skill sets, which range from data analysis through, strong communications skills to potentially front-end development and the ability to build HMTL prototypes. Overall though, I’d say that UX practitioners share common soft skills and character traits. These include being open-minded, empathetic, clear and thoughtful. If you’re the type that enjoys understanding the mechanics of how things work and how they can be improved for the end user, then UX may be the career path for you.

What do you get up to during your lunch breaks?

Taking time out at lunch is really important for me. A large part of what I do is problem solving. Walking away from whatever I’m working on and coming back to it from a different angle, is immensely valuable. It gives me a chance to sanity check my own work before putting it in front of users.When the sun is out, I try to go for a run or a cycle, otherwise I head over to my favourite coffee shop (Full Court Press) and grab some food from St Nick’s Market. 

Bristol Waterfront

Bristol waterfront, two minutes away from our Bristol office

What do you get up to after work?

I’ve always been into cycling, in one form or another. In Bristol, we’re lucky to have lots of fantastic roads and mountain bike trails right on our doorstep. After work, I try and take advantage of these, some are only a 10-minute ride away from the office. Bristol is a great city, with loads to do if you're an active energetic individual. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to join the Torchbox team?

I think everyone here brings something pretty special to the agency, both in terms of skill set and personality. I like seeing people who are keen to get stuck in and do some great work. Be active, engaged and passionate. It's important people are able to leave at the end of each day and feel they have contributed to creating something they're proud of. 

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We're on the lookout for a talented UX pracitioner to join our team. If you want to work for a digital agency with a difference, then take a look at our current job openings or email your CV and a covering letter to [email protected]

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Further Reading

Tom Saunders

Tom SaundersHead of UX Research