The Hidden Perils of the “Uncanny Valley” When You’re Doing Website Redesign

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Even though your small business website may be in a state of disarray – possibly even tatters – you have a vision that, over time, you will be able to improve the site incrementally and eventually reach a point where the site looks really professional, drives a lot of leads, and fulfills its fundamental purpose in an aesthetically pleasing and search engine pleasing fashion.

However, you need to be aware of and guard against the “uncanny valley.”

The road from “yucky website” to “excellent website” is not a linear one. Your site might improve over various iterations of redesign but then suddenly take a dip as it approaches perfection. That may seem counter-intuitive, but this concept of the “uncanny valley” appears in other types of industries and processes.

Most famously, it happens in the world of animation.

As you make a drawing or animated character more and more realistic, in general, audiences tend to enjoy the artwork more and more and increasingly relate to what they see on the screen. In other words, on the road from “stick figure” to “fully rendered, precise 3D drawing” of an attractive couple, for instance, most people will prefer the better rendered version than the stick figure version. However, as the animation gets better and better, there comes a point where if it’s really good — but not quite perfect! — then the artwork looks almost corpse like! It’s very disturbing to look at. In fact, the animators in charge of producing the movie Shrek initially developed much more “realistic” animation but decided to make it less realistic because the more realistic versions freaked people out, because they had this corpse-like patina to them.

Likewise, it’s possible to have the same kind of effect when you’re doing your web redesign.

Over a few incarnations, as you take the site from really bad to better, it will improve. But you might reach a point wherein a site that already looks quite good might not necessarily benefit, aesthetically, from further incremental improvement. In fact, making positive changes to a part may actually make the entire website look worse and yield poorer results!

One of the reasons this happens is that the good parts contrast with the remaining design aspects that are not so stellar. For instance, your nav bar may look decent or at least passable when your background picture is just mediocre. But if you insert a gorgeous, professional picture in the background, that act highlights the blah-ness of the nav bar; the net result is a decline in the site’s overall aesthetic, even though the new picture looks better than the older one.

Here’s the bottom line: when you’re doing a redesign, you really need to be testing at every stage, and you need to be quite scientific about it. Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent this process. The team here at Connective Web Design is the best WordPress Developer Los Angeles, and can help you figure out what to do and how to do it. Call or email us today to set up your free consultation with us.