Quote from Year Without Pants (Chapter 19)

The natural mistake engineers make is to build from the bottom up. They leave the user interface last, assuming it is the least complex technology. This is wrong. Humans are much more complex than software, and since the interface has to interact with people, it’s the most difficult to do well. By building from the bottom up, technologists paint themselves into a corner, resulting in ugly, hard-to-use things. By the time they finally got to the user interface work, so many constraints exist that even the best designers in the world couldn’t salvage the project. The answer is simple: design the user interface first. This is a mandate at any organization that makes things people love to use.

 – Scott Berkun

The Year Without Pants (Chapter 7 – The Big Talk)

I think  most  big software companies have forgotten this (or never knew  it):

As I watched Team Social work, happily uncontaminated by any pretense of management by me, I kept in mind the lesson I learned from Joe Belfiore, one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. He told me the central way he’d evaluate me was the quality of what made it out the door. It wasn’t about the ideas I had or how I managed schedules. It wasn’t how I ran meetings or how well liked I was. Those were all secondary. What mattered was what we shipped. And he told me the only reason anything good ships is because of the programmers. They are everything. They are not factory employees; they are craftspeople, craftspeople who are the fundamental creative engine of making software. 

– Scott Berkun