Smashing Magazine posted a great article on 10 Useful Usability Findings & Guidlines and one that I wanted to highlight is that quality web design builds credibility (all of them are worth highlighting though) . While this isn’t a profound statement, it is something that can be overlooked by many businesses and organizations on the web.
While some want to look good online for their own vanity, many are satisfied with just being online. The fact that you have a BIG opportunity to influence the perception of your brand and company should not be taken lightly. When you factor in that good web design makes your website easy to use/navigate, you have a lot riding on having a quality web design.
The Usability article also has links to a few different research projects that support this.
First impressions matter, a book is judged by its cover and how easy you are to work with matters. The quality of your web design matters.