• 'The design looks simple' is correct.

    In this sentence, 'look' is a linking verb, and is similar to is, seems, appears in meaning. These verbs are followed by an adjective.

    On the other hand, 'looks like' would be followed by a noun:

  • John looks like his father.
  • That cloud looks like a dog.

    Or, somewhat informally, by a clause:

  • It looks like it's going to rain.
  • He looks like he's in pain.
  • Do you mean, like, an adverb?

    I suppose we could, Mehrdad. This is very informal, and close to ValSpeak. From the American Heritage*:

    'Our Living Language Along with be all and go, the construction combining be and like has become a common way of introducing quotations in informal conversation, especially among younger people:

    “So I'm like, ‘Let's get out of here!’” As with go, this use of like can also announce a brief imitation of another person's behavior, often elaborated with facial expressions and gestures.

    It can also summarize a past attitude or reaction (instead of presenting direct speech). If a woman says “I'm like, ‘Get lost buddy!’” she may or may not have used those actual words to tell the offending man off. In fact, she may not have said anything to him but instead may be summarizing her attitude at the time by stating what she might have said, had she chosen to speak. See Note at all, go1.'

    Normally, 'it looks / seems / appears/ is....' is followed by the adjective, possibly modified by an adverb of degree (very, somewhat, quite, for example), but not by 'like.'
    *The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Lanugage, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin 2007

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