Earlier today Carl asked me what is honest design to you? I find it very interesting as a question because it requires me to go through the mental exercise of first define what design is and then figuring out what honest design is and what the term means to me.
To me, design is the result of all the decision making process, all the thoughts, the prototyping, the considerations that are necessary to make something. I'd argue that everything artificial is designed to a certain extent.
If you accept my definition of design, then honest design is the result of a process that is, well, honest. It means to be motivated by good intentions. It means creating something with a clear and valuable goal in mind. It means to make something that will add value to this world.
An honest website is a website that tries its best to not waste my time when I'm using it. It tries to make my experience as pleasurable as possible. Its UI and UX is optimised for ease of use, for readability, for speed, for wasting as little bandwidth as possible.
Honest design to me means to do whatever you can in order to maximise everything good out of a product and minimise everything that's negative or wasteful or distracting.