William Gibson knows it.

“Good interface design is as transparent as possible, because I don’t want to have to think about it. I just want to write, or do whatever else I’m doing, and not have to think about whatever I’m doing it on.” —William Gibson, describing his gadget choices on The Setup.

Dieter Rams knows it.

“Good design is as little design as possible.Dieter Rams, chief designer at Braun from 1961 through 1995. (See: 15 classic Dieter Rams designs.)

The designers at Apple know it.

“The iPad becomes the app you’re using. The hardware is so understated — it’s just a screen, really — and because you manipulate objects and interface elements so smoothly and directly on the screen, the fact that you’re using an iPad falls away. You’re using the app, whatever it may be, and while you’re doing so, the iPad is that app. Switch to another app and the iPad becomes that app.” —Adam Engst, TidBITS.

Good design is learning how to murder your darlings.

It is learning subtraction. It is learning to delete.

(Above, various dele marks as used in copyediting. From the Latin deleatur, which roughly translates as “dear lord, this is so pat I think I just vomited.”)

Design is not adding more buttons (as with Sony’s Google TV remote control). Design is not removing all buttons (as with a much-maligned and promptly-reversed recent iteration of the iPod shuffle).

Start here and all else will fall into place: “Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.” — Dieter Rams.