A great law firm or financial advisor with an ugly website will succeed if they attain great results for their clients, so why bother making their website better?

Websites like Craigslist prove the point that even with practically no attention given to user interface design, a website can get great results if what they offer is appealing.

Can good design and attention to aesthetics help your business achieve greater success?

Can good design and attention to aesthetics help your business achieve greater success, and if so, are the gains enough to justify the time and money of a website redesign?

The difference between Apple and other computer manufacturers is that Apple really competes on design. They know that everything else is commoditized.

It works just as well for software and websites. A lot of websites aren’t just “tools” — they’re destinations. And even if they were just tools, people still like and will prefer beautiful tools as Apple have shown.

Good design speaks. Good design tells your visitors that you care about your product. Good design at the front-end suggests that everything is in order at the back-end, whether or not that is the case. Good design is what separates the best from the “good-enough”.

But “good design” can seem subjective and nebulous. Worse, it can be difficult to quantify how much design really impacts a company’s bottom line.

In the past 10 years, design-driven companies outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 by 228%.

A new analysis by the Design Management Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit focused on design management, puts numbers to what design junkies suspected all along: in the past 10 years, design-driven companies outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500—a stock market index of 500 large publicly traded companies—by 228%.

These companies included Apple, Coca-Cola, Ford, Herman Miller, IBM, Intuit, Newell Rubbermaid, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Starwood, Steelcase, Target, Walt Disney, and Whirlpool. The money these companies put into better user experiences, beautiful branding, and innovative advertising paid off.

The Design Bar has been Raised and Design-Oriented Businesses are Winning

Notice how quickly a design experience shapes your opinion of a company or store, for good or bad. For instance, it only takes you a second to realize when a website is poorly designed or outdated.

With all the great design online, the chances of your website being viewed directly after a very well designed website is very high. For this reason your business needs to have a well-designed website.

Design-oriented organizations invest in making sure their business is represented well.

Design-oriented organizations invest in making sure their business is represented well. They put design at the heart of their company to guide innovation and to continually improve products, service and marketing. They recognize that a great design leads to differentiation, customer loyalty and higher profits.

If you’re a sole practitioner or a small firm you can differentiate yourself by paying attention to design and making sure you’re well represented online. Take a bit of time and go through your marketing materials and website and see if they’re presenting your firm in a way that creates confidence in your business and your brand.