I'm not a designer, and at times have downplayed the impact a designer can have on usability, mainly because I've found in the past that the responsibility for usability has been left with the designer when actually it's everyone's responsibility. But the examples in this article do a good job of illustrating the value of good, thoughtful and user-focused design.
Visual design is more than decorative; it has a strong effect on the user’s experience. The article focuses on:
- Look and feel
- Discovery of affordances
- Supporting communications
- Emotions and trust
More Than Skin Deep - article by Charlie Kreitzberg and Ambrose Little for MSDN