Imitation vs. Innovation

I'm ashamed of myself.

I finished my first windows forms project a few months ago - it's an internal project that will never be released to the public...but that doesn't give me the right to let it suck.

It's the interface. I wasn't sure what the correct way to do things was, even going so far as to send a note to the windows forms team. The program is useable, but only just. There are a number of user interface inconsistencies that just should not show up in a program, in-house or commercial.

But last night I had an epiphany. I said to myself, "Self, what is so different about this search program than some other, more useable interfaces?" For that matter, why should I even have to look to windows forms for inspiration? See where I'm going?

It hit me like a ton of bricks. google. The interface on their first page is so dirt simple, anyone can use it. If you need to get more options, you click on "Advanced Search Options" and you're cooking with gasoline. See, this UI needs to be simple to be effective. I was so busy trying to find out what I "can" and "cannot" do in the windows forms area, that I didn't stop to think what I "should" do. My bad :).

I'm pumped. How often is it that you get to redeem yourself on a past - let's face it - failure? What would you suggest? What search interfaces seem the most useful and intuitive to you?