Cameron Moll is a designer, speaker, and author—and also Founder & CEO of Authentic Jobs, a job board for people who work on the web. We chatted to Cameron about effecting change through design, finding inspiration from anywhere, and acknowledging the work of others.
Hey Cameron, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Tell us a little bit about Authentic Jobs and your role there.
Authentic Jobs is a targeted job board for designers, hackers, and creative professionals that I founded back in 2005. My day-to-day role involves both running the business and designing. I’m still the lead designer here, but in the last couple of years, I’ve been slowly realizing that in order to grow the business, I may have to give up my design role and bring on a full-time designer. Half of me is okay with that, but the other half, not so much. I don’t think I’ll ever want to fully give up design, but it might just be a necessary transition into the next phase of my career.
InVision has been invaluable in what we do, because it enables us to replicate a live prototype.
What’s your process for crafting new features at Authentic Jobs? And how does InVision fit into that?
I’d probably put most of our new features into two categories: issues that have been brought about by customers and things that the team feels would help our users. Lots of our features come from user requests, but the rest will come from people on the team just saying “What if…?” – Those crazy ideas that pop into your head in the shower can often be the most valuable.
InVision has been invaluable in what we do, because it enables us to replicate a live prototype. The best way to prototype will always be to build out a real, functional app for the platform you’re designing for, but that’s not always feasible. InVision allows us to get our ideas in front of our users much faster than we could any other way. As a community, I think we rally behind the idea of functional HTML prototypes, but that’s not always going to be the best solution for every project.
How do you know that you’re going in the right direction with a project?
Do we ever know? It seems that everything I’ve ever done as a designer has been a shot in the dark. That’s why we enjoy it so much – because our entire careers are spent taking educated guesses and often with large risks attached. Sure, you can mitigate that risk to some extent with user testing, but at the end of the day, no amount of testing can truly tell you what the right direction is. That’s been a painful lesson to learn as a founder.
With social media, it’s easy to be negative & call out mistakes, but we should strive to help & elevate each other.
You have quite a few side projects, from your Structures in Type project to smaller woodworking jobs. How do those projects differ from your web design work?
I really enjoy the freedom that comes with these projects. When I do woodworking, I might know roughly what I want to produce, but I won’t have any instructions or a blueprint, and I just make things up as I go.
At this point in my career, I’m expected to have rigid processes and methodologies, but when I get into my garage and get my hands on some wood, all of that goes out the window. When I’m working on my posters, there are no usability tests to be conducted, no user profiling to do. It’s just me. I just do something that makes me happy, and if it makes other people happy, that’s a bonus.
If you could change one thing about your career to date, what would it be?
I think I would have spent more time appreciating the efforts of others. I am who I am today because of the people in this community who have set a path for us. People like Doug Bowman and Dan Cederholm. I’m good friends with these guys now, but I don’t know if I ever gave enough credit to the work of the many people who paved the way for our industry. Even now, I don’t know that I acknowledge and appreciate others as much as I could.
I worry that technology is enabling us to become more rash and to act quicker on our emotions. We’re still learning the self-discipline needed for today’s technology. With social media, it’s easy to be negative & call out mistakes, but we should strive to help & elevate each other. I don’t think we do enough of that as an industry, and I certainly don’t do enough of it myself. If I could change one thing, I would’ve liked to have learned that lesson earlier on in my career.
I hope that part of the legacy I leave is that people will recognize that I made an effort to acknowledge the successes, the accomplishments, and the efforts of others.
To what extent do you feel that design can affect this world?
It’s a tough one to answer. Are we really changing things for the better or are we just creating new forms of chaos? And I don’t know the answer to that yet, but I can give at least one example of where I’ve seen design make a real difference. I took a trip to Ethiopia two years ago with Charity: Water, and we had the chance to see this giant drilling rig that Authentic Jobs and our community had helped fund.
We got to see some of the wells that had been dug and some of the kids whose communities had received wells from Charity:Water. We saw the enormous smiles on their faces, and heard the stories of people who used to have to walk for an hour to get water and whose lives have been completely changed. We got to see a very real difference that design can make. How great or how small that change really is is debatable, but just like any other tool, when design is used properly it can make a positive impact on the world.
What kind of a legacy do you want to leave behind for the design world?
This may not be the answer that I want written on my tombstone necessarily, but in the context of what we’ve been talking about, I’ll say this: I hope that part of the legacy I leave is that people will recognize that I made an effort to acknowledge the successes, the accomplishments and the efforts of others – that I wasn’t so caught up in my own career to appreciate others for what they’ve done.
Most of my career up to this point has been focused on my writing, my speaking, my designing, but I think I’m at a turning point where I’d like to step out of the spotlight a little bit. I want to let other people become the heroes: my employees, my sons, other people in the community. I don’t know that I need the spotlight to be fulfilled as a designer anymore. Recognizing that and stepping away for a little bit will, I think, create a happier life for me.
“No amount of testing can truly tell you what the right direction is.”
“Our entire careers are spent taking educated guesses, often with large risks attached.”
“Do something that makes me happy, and if it makes other people happy, that’s a bonus.”
“Technology is enabling us to become more rash and to act quicker on our emotions.”
“When design is used properly it can make a positive impact on the world.”
Interviewer for InVision, designer for lack of a better word. Has more questions than answers.