On User Experience
User Experience. It took a while for me to understand the importance of User Experience (UEX) to product's. Personally, that is pretty weird since a) my brother is a professional user experience designer and b) I worked my entire career for product companies (vs. a services organization).
It started to dawn on me when I got to see Luke Wroblewski at work. He took both a scientific approach to his work as well as tons of intuition. To me, it was a revelation to see him at work.
Later, I started getting annoyed by all kinds of UEX "bugs" in everyday life. Let me give you an example. Look at the picture of this beamer. It's not a cheap one (nor a really expensive one either). Look closely... What is wrong here?
The standby indicator is a couple of centimeters removed from the actual on/off button. Clearly whoever designed this, hasn't used it, didn't prototype or whatever. Usually beamers are used in low-light environments, and it is therefore almost impossible to find the on/off button. If the designer had just used an illuminated on/off button, the beamer would have worked better! It is these little things that start to add up. (People would start to comment "it just works", the word spreads and booom! You're Apple ;-))
Why do not more companies try to compete by using User Experience as their unique selling point?
Update: See this thread I started on StackOverflow for recommendations on UEX for Web apps.
Update 2: Thanks to LukeW for referencing both this blog post, as well as telling how it is (he was the person for me opening up the importance of user experience). Go read that post, it contains more insights than my ramblings!