This will vary depending on your product or service, but in many cases it can and will make a difference. Let’s look at some examples where good design generates business (NOTE: Yes, I keep using the word “design”. I know it’s a loaded term and can mean a great many things, here I’m using it in a broad sense that probably means what you think it means – i.e. user interface architecture, usability and looks – so how it works and looks, not just how it works/looks).

The easiest example is of course Apple. Answer this honestly: do you really think Apple would sell as many Macs if OS X looked ugly and their hardware was made out of chunky, cheap plastic boxes? The difference between Apple and the other computer manufacturers is that Apple really competes on design. They know that everything else is commoditized. Hardware is cheap and there are plenty of choices, so everyone else competes on price. What’s worse for other manufacturers is that they also run an off-the-shelf operating system. So they and all their competitors are churning out the same products, and the only way to win is to make it cheaper. This is a game with many losers.

When your product is commoditized, you have to change the rules of the game. Unless you can really compete on price you better find another way to differentiate yourself. That other way is design.

I don’t think this design advantage somehow only applies to hardware. It doesn’t. 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.

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