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The New York Times

Digital Strategy x Research

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How can the New York Times reach subscribers and non-subscribers on platforms they currently use?

CLIENT: THE NEW YORK TIMES


The New York Times is one of the most well-known newspapers with a global influence. It’s readership and reach continues to grow at a steady rate and has added multiple sections to it’s content, with some of the most popular being the Arts & Culture, Cooking and the Crossword. In early 2018, the NYTimes reported an increase in revenue from digital subscriptions and advertising for it’s digital platforms also rose. The challenge we were presented with was to figure out how can the NYTimes reach younger readers through apps and websites they use on a daily basis.

 
 

ADVISORS

Renda Morton
VP of Design
The New York Times

ROLE

User Research
UX Design
Strategy
Prototyping

TEAM

Jason Branch

 
 


RESEARCH

Despite facing decreasing revenues in print subscriptions and advertising, The Times digital versions of both revenues continued to see an increased growth in numbers. Upon researching the The NYTimes app, we saw how many users were frustrated over app performance and the number of ads being put in each article, even in paid subscriptions. The Times had reduced the number of free articles for unsubscribed readers from ten to five each month.

 
 
 

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

During our competitive analysis, we looked for apps which provided similar content and how the NYTimes could capitalize on it’s edge in being an expert critic of all things arts, food and culture. We saw tremendous opportunity in the fact that users were looking to the Times as they would to Yelp for recommendations on where to eat, what entertainment to pursue and the next upcoming thing in their city. The current design of the Times’ restaurant search showed options available to the user based on the neighborhood, price and cuisines they were looking for. The Time’s Critic’s pick was an interesting add to the mix of choices one could use as a filter. We took that as an opportunity to customize the existing feature to the user’s eating preferences and habits.

 
 
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USER INSIGHTS

We concluded that our target user would be millennials (ages 21-40 years old) who are on the hunt for the next fun thing to do in their city. They search for spontaneous experiences, backed by reviews and recommendations of a brand/source they trust and one which has a reputation of being a good critic. The Times is a perfect fit for that role. We found that readers were looking for meaningful content which was tailored to their schedule, their social lifestyle and location. 

 
 
Determining apps and features which would best suit the powerful content of NYT. Sketch by Jason Branch.

Determining apps and features which would best suit the powerful content of NYT. Sketch by Jason Branch.

 


CONCEPT EXPLORATION

We went about exploring where we could embed content from the New York Times which made the most sense to the readers, making the delivery of it seamless and almost unnoticeable in terms of the effort they put in to search for it. Some of our explorations were in apps like Apple Music, Google Search and Google Maps. While events such as concerts or music gatherings made sense in Apple Music, we were hitting a wall on where to incorporate recommendations on food and other culturally relevant content.

Upon more user research, we chose to go ahead with Google Maps. This was based on a couple of observations which made our belief in the integration of both services stronger. Users wanted their content to exist in a place that would also help them get there. The cognitive load of switching between apps and the loss of time and interest when it came to going through options and making a decision on where to go for dinner, for instance, was of huge importance in this process.

 
 
 

USER JOURNEY

 
 
 

KEY FEATURES AND INTERACTIONS

The screen flow below shows how a user’s click-through journey will look like when they are met with the option of exploring nearby food and events.

 
 


We concluded that cutting out the extra step of searching on Google for a place to eat or coming across a Times article which speaks about a band in town and then having to look for directions on how to get to either was a natural concept for us to pursue and test. We proposed the following: a user could go to Google Maps, click “Explore” and see recommendations from the New York Times about what event is happening and where. The user could choose to read more about the expert point-of-view of the Times, upon which clicking on the article would lead them to the Times website or app.

 

Next: Reflect