To be clear on this, I know what is the definition of an inner product space and some properties and theorems about them. What I am asking for is an intuition for this definition in the complex case. In the real case, the intuition (or at least one of them) is geometric: The inner product of two vectors is the length of the projection of the first to the second scaled by the norms of both vectors so that it is symmetric (modulo some details). In particular I (and everybody else) think of "inner product zero" as geometric orthogonality and of orthonormal bases as, well, orthonormal bases and so on. The question is, what should I think about when working with complex (or should I say hermitian?) inner product spaces? what is the "meaning" of the complex number associated to two vectors called their inner product?
I will be happy to hear all kinds of answers. For example, what physical phenomena does it model or in what mathematical situations does in "naturally" appear. Answers that stress the "nice structure" resulting are also welcome, yet I feel that by itself it is a bit unsatisfying.