Have you ever had one of those mind-blowing experiences where you are really, really struggling with a problem ... struggling for hours, days, or weeks, and then suddenly - bam! - you find exactly what you need? I had that experience this morning, and it was truly awesome.
I went to a local Borders bookstore, and sat there with seven books related to the general topic of "design". For weeks now I've been battling a really ugly looking user interface on a multi-million dollar project, and decided I needed to grab this problem by the horns, and do some research so I could feel a lot more comfortable here. I'm not a designer, but this project needed some real help. I have our designers on it now, but I just was not comfortable with what we were doing so wrong.
After scanning through several books I finally picked up "The Non-Designers Design Book" by Robin Williams, and in 20 minutes my life had changed. Through several simple design principles I was easily able to figure out why our application looks so ugly in some places. This was such a powerful, moving experience in 20 minutes time ... words can't describe it, other than "awesome". Robin, I don't know who you are, but thanks. There is a Zen saying "When the student is ready, the teacher appears", and this could not be more true. The mind was ready and the book penetrated like a knife through warm butter.