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New Look for Vertex42

I am in the middle of rolling out a new look for Vertex42. The goal is to make the site cleaner and more modern. I'm not sure what "modern" means, but it seemed like the right thing to say.

One of the most common complaints I get is that the site is "too busy," so that is one of the main things we're trying to fix.

Below are screenshots showing before and after the change for one of the pages that I'm testing:


Vertex42 Redesign - Before


Vertex42 Redesign - After

I'll admit that the change is not extreme, but I think it is a step in the right direction. If you'd care to comment on what you think of the design, I'd welcome some feedback.


14 comments… add one
  • I don’t have anything specific to say, I would only add my voice to those saying that the old design is way too “busy”

  • I like the new look. It has a good look and feel. It makes it less busy and more user friendly.

  • Still cluttered. Maybe more icons and less words.

  • Better. Not perfect.
    In “before”, the content was hemmed in by distracting lists on both sides. Now, with the lists on the right, when we look for the content (which we do by scanning our eyes from the top left and then to the right and down, this being a site in English, not Hebrew or Chinese), the first thing our eyes encounter is the content, aligned with the left side. Well done.
    And all the Ads are now all together, all laid out the same way. Well done.
    One significant gripe that have about the new version is one that I have with old version: The Vertex 42 content is still bifurcated by Ads by Google. You deliver the intro paragraph, and then my eye has to navigate through/past the ads and I have to figure out where the content picks up again. You have laid the ads directly in the path of my eye so that I have no choice but to stumble over them on my way to what I’m really after — the Vertex 42 content. I expect this is deliberate on either your or Google’s part. Is that placement part of the deal you struck so that you can be ad-supported? I expect the answer is, “Yes.”
    Ideally, for user-friendliness, you would swap the position of the 6 Ads by Google and the content that is currently below them.
    Also, I would make your download link more prominent: Enclose it in a border so that it becomes a bona fide button, and give that button a color, such as an inviting yellow or green. Perhaps the same green used for the bar of tabs at the top.

    • – Good idea about making the download link a button – I’ll work on that.

      I figured there would be a few comments on ads …

      – The ad location has been chosen based on a significant amount of testing and optimization. Ads are what make Vertex42 a business and not a just a hobby. Firefox has an ad blocker add-on if you find ads too annoying, although I’m not an advocate of ad blockers unless ads are unrelated to the content. Google’s system usually does a pretty good job at matching ads to content.

      – Ads may be a little inconvenient, but the alternative would be making everybody pay for the downloads and content. Most people would rather see ads than have to pay for the templates and other content. I just can’t bring myself to make people pay for a debt reduction spreadsheet. For tutorials and articles, as a user I find it much more annoying to see a bit of introductory content followed by a “to read the rest … pay $5” than putting up with a few ads.

      So far it looks like this recent change may end up reducing the ad revenue by 20%. That hurts. It’s easy for people to tell me this will be better in the long run (increasing loyalty and all that), but for now it just hurts. If you’ve ever had buyer’s remorse, you know what I’m talking about.

  • Jon,
    Thanks for your explanation, I’ve always wondered about it and felt the same way as Nat but didn’t say anything because I figured that your reason was what you said it is.
    I am a longtime visitor to your site and I feel exactly the way you do about reading a snippet and then being asked to pay (which very few people ever do).
    I am a personal finance coach and my credit card snowball calculator of choice is your Debt Reduction Calculator 2.0 I always refer clients to your website and have them download it themselves in the hope that once they go in for a visit they’ll be influenced positively by all the budgeting templates etc. (The next stop is YNAB)
    Thank you very much for this wonderful website.

  • Hi, Jon,
    I like the layout still. Losing the left side menu and ads does clean up the page.

    I am grateful for my ability to quickly summarize a webpage visually, by which I mean I can (usually) easily separate the ads from the content. So I still don’t find your pages busy, as they are well laid out with coordinating colors and appropriate font.
    I also have occasionally clicked on the ads because of their relevance to my search for templates, and I’ve gotten several ideas and processes from that further web research.

    I regularly tell other work colleagues and friends about your site, and their feedback to me is always positive!

    Thank you again for such a great resource.

    Anne in Philadephia

  • The 2nd phase of the redesign is under way – this time with a change to the download block. This should help address any confusion about finding the download link. Check out an example here:

    Family Budget Planner

    Note: The advertising below the download block is only a temporary thing. Don’t get too excited. :-)

  • How can I use your debt reduction calculator on a MacIntosh?

    Thank you!


  • Not many changes from old to new. I see you totally remove the adsense block from the left nav bar (its not anywhere on the new version) was it do to aesthetics? Hope it didn’t affect your earnings much.

    • @Ben … yes – removing the left ad block was an aesthetics decision. It had a measurable negative effect, but one I could live with.

  • I personally didn’t have a problem with your previous layout. I just assumed the ads were there for revenue generation. I’m sure you could find a way to squeeze more ads back onto the page to gain some of your revenue loss without impacting the usability too much. I’m all for getting what I need for free so feel free to slip the ads back in.

  • Hi Jon
    Just wonder after I purchase the softwear online, do i get a softwear Disc ?

    • @mason … sorry, but no. Purchases of my templates (assuming you’re talking about the gantt chart, purchase order, vacation tracker, etc) are just online downloads.


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