To start this off correctly lets acknowledge the ever-growing, rock star role technology plays in our lives everyday. Through the web, and especially the growth of mobile experiences — the line between the real world and our digital experiences has become more organic, transparently weaving its way into our daily routines. With the impending impact of technologies like mobile payments, and maybe-sooner-than-anticipated augmented reality — in the coming years (months) that line will become blissfully indecipherable. Technology has hit its stride — converging technologies are providing new opportunities, new agility, speed and affordability for brands to explore and create innovative ways to interact with people. Smaller teams of developers can create big experiences (their jedi-like expertise is still invaluable) — but the opportunity to take advantage of emerging technologies is not limited to huge brands with enormous capabilities (read: budgets). The technological playing field has leveled. Companies can't (well, shouldn't) build an app or mobile-optimized experience just to say they've done it — anyone can do that. It should have purpose (i.e.: meet a need; solve a problem; provide a useful service; measurable results). Technology cannot be assumed to be a catalyst for a successful digital experience. That spark, still needs to be shaped through a value that doesn't always find itself on the roadmap to a minimum viable project — good design. Note the purposeful usage of the term "good design." Design being so subjective, its important to define and recognize that there is indeed a difference between design (for the sake of creation) and "good design." To loosely, and unmercifully paraphrase (some of) Dieter Rams' principles of "good design" — it is design that was created with the purpose of solving a problem, created to be usable, useful and aesthetically pleasing. (For a better definition of "good design" start with Rams' bio and explore from there.) One need not look far for evidence that design has been a key differentiator for companies of late — its cliché at this point to talk about Apple's brilliance and success. A better example would be the focus of Apple's rivals to support the idea of design, as a core value add, in products moving forward: • Microsofts' Windows phone and Surface tablet have beautiful, more-usable interfaces (even Steve Wozniak digs it.) • Google has begun to move forward with smarter responsive pages and handfuls of slick, attractive microsites; and Google+ is a minimalist and effective experience • Facebook's Timeline was a solid attempt to move their design forward (though their are arguments for and against how successful they were — they will surely push forward with an emphasis on design and usability.) • LinkedIn just released a sleek, streamlined new iPad app, an intuitive tablet-friendly design • Oh yeah, and Facebook bought Instragram for $1 billion — a simple, usable app, with lots of pretty pictures ... design. The precedent for a renewed, enhanced focus on solid design is further supported with handfuls of new and re-invented startups, offering up fantastic (useful) experiences on multiple digital platforms: Svpply, Square, Airbnb, Clear, Path, and Zaarly to name a few favorites. As the web enters a more personalized, mobile-focused, task-oriented era — user appetites have also grown to expect well-crafted experiences harnessing the full potential of a device. Putting renewed emphasis on the importance of creativity and design. So, high five a designer (or we'll just continue to high five each other) — smart, useful, purposeful design is more important than ever.