If someone asks me what I do for a living, I say "I make buttons." This whittles the job down to a tangible (almost concrete) notion. A bigger explanation includes what those buttons say, what they do, the order in which they do it, and a myriad of other processes and constraints beside their color and shape.
Usually I'm making buttons for websites, but there's the other field of application design that has always intrigued me. One could argue websites are applications and I won't disagree, but lemme tackle one topic at a time here.
Perhaps this is a fault of operating systems, but with things like Apple's Aperture I feel there's a bit of hope for applications. Aperture provide options for a simple canvas, minimizing, if not removing entirely, other background applications to focus on the task at hand.
For a good piece of time, I've been using Photoshop in full screen mode, which is almost but not near as good as these examples. Functionality is limited (on the Mac) even though I can perform most tasks with key commands. What I'd like for them to do however, is take the more radical approach that Apple has lifted for Aperture, and create a clean workspace.
An example of what I'd like Photoshop 10 to look like.
(click on the image to toggle between the concept and current UI)
I'd also like my mail program to be like this, along with all the other apps. Coupled with a quiet, subdued notification system for messages bouncing around my system.
And I want a bouffant hairdo, a spicy little miniskirt, an earpiece, and touch screens. (see LCARS)