Ernest Hemingway once said, "Write the story, take out all the good lines, and see if the story still works."
It's counterintuitive, but removing the good lines from an application truly is the right way to achieve great design. The good lines are the features that are flashy and cool, that don't really contribute directly to an effective application, that exist only because of their sex appeal (as sexy as Web applications can get, anyway). The good lines are the features that the Marketing department might absolutely love, but most users will find cumbersome because they get in the way of the 20 percent of features that really matter.
When you take out all the good lines, what are left are the best lines. When there is nothing cool or sexy in the way, the features that matter are allowed to shine, and the whole user experience becomes significantly better.
When you take out everything that makes an application "competitive," what is left are the parts that make it better than the competition. What's left are the parts that let people get what they need and get out.
Elevating the user experience is not about adding features to make an application stand out from the crowd. It's about taking things away until the heart of the application is allowed to shine through. Elevation is about reduction. It's about focus. It's about kaizen.
The best software is less software.