Joe Stagner posted some great quotes on the importance of design – not just in software, but in everything we do. I think those quotes are all very true. Of course, great design without a great product is pointless – so you have the best “designed” item, but if it doesn’t serve any useful purpose, then it doesn’t matter. Of course, I also think that if the product doesn’t serve any useful purpose, it can’t really be considered well designed.
UPDATE: Fixed the link…apparently Joe cleared out that post from his personal blog and now it’s just at his MSDN blog as Robert pointed out.