I'm a little late to the game on this entry since it was posted in January but honestly I've been so busy implenting a design & functionality upgrade on our systems I'm a little behind.
Usability, design and the wow factor can never be overlooked in a SharePoint implementation. While reliablity and functionality are the backbone of any system a good design will make user adoption an easier battle to win. The statistics about the growth of intranet teams are also interesting.
Take a look at Jakob's post and you can purchase the full report with screenshots as well. I'll be doing that to conduct an evaluation of how the sites I'm involved in measure up to the winning entries.