from silly & poor looking to clever & good looking
I'm definitely no expert but I somehow believe I've mastered how to create Queries with MS Access, it's just that they all look a bit poor to me, what are the steps involved from getting a poor-looking Query in Access (or in any other tool for that matter) to have a very cool & clear design like the one on Booking.com of which I attached a snapshot?
I'm particularly interested in that field below "Destination", where you can search by different criteria, I think conceptually there's not much difference from a DB Query but visually that's another thing altogether... In your view can it be done without hiring a pool of design experts?
The next part is planning. You want to draw some storyboards. Just rough sketches that consider different layouts. It really helps over trying to lay everything out with the built in tools. If you like Apple's stuff, their big secret is that careful planning is what allows them to *remove* stuff and still make it work.
Then you do the aggravating twiddling to convince Access to lay things out the way you want it to. There are no cheap tricks to make Access look good... some of its widgets are just ugly, and most of the third-party libraries are expensive and not much better looking. This is just my personal taste, but generally a nice, clean, simple design with one or two accent colors makes the best design.
Finally... the most important part that no one (myself generally included) ever does is usability testing.
Now, I'm presenting the ideal case where you have lots and lots of time (but it doesn't cost much money, really!) but any part of this can help make your app tighter.