I’ve been listening to a lot of the “How to Take Over the World” podcast lately, and in a series he did about Steve Jobs, one line of his really stood out: Design is more than veneer.
People often think of design as “making things pretty”, and while that may be a piece of it, that’s not the purpose of design. I mentioned a few months ago that the best design is invisible, meaning great design helps users accomplish a goal.
As I said in that post, this doesn’t mean that design shouldn’t be beautiful, but rather than the “beautiful” aspect of design should generally be secondary to the full purpose of what you’re working on. Always be thinking of your users and how best to help them accomplish a goal, and then put some veneer on top of it once the user experience has been perfected.