We know that Google is looking at the design of the site to some extent nowadays. Several versions of the Panda update debuted this year, and before that, Google rolled out its site-preview option on search results pages. Apple products are testament to the fact that people appreciate nice design as long as you don’t forget functionality.
This article outlines some excellent analogies of quotes from Steve Jobs and how they can be applied to SEO. Too often the importance of a functional and beautiful web design has been overlooked in favour of budget or even laziness.
It’s no longer good enough just to have a web presence. Google is now favouring those sites that have an appealing design and a focus on usability.
Additionally, with the new site-preview option, if you have a choice of websites that appear in Google’s search results pages, which one are you more likely to click on?