A Platform
For Loyalty

The
Background

In 2008 Clock secured a much sought-after bid to build one of the publishing industry's first online consumer loyalty platforms: the Times+ website for News UK (then News International).

After a fruitful five years, News UK decided it was time for a revamp - to refresh the design, enhance the useability and bring the technical side of things bang up to date.

Research showed that Times digital subscribers actively engaged with Times+ were 35% less likely to churn than those subscribers not involved.

Our Brief

We worked with the client to establish a clear list of objectives. The loyalty platform already had a healthy subscription base, so the final product needed to maintain this level of engagement but also inspire new users, and be able to accommodate this growth. The three main areas to consider were:

user experience, technical infrastructure, redesign.

There was also a key requirement to build around the brand’s new strapline ‘Events, Offers, Extras’.

As user experience was so important, we set about exploring all the usability issues of the current website. Our highly experienced team was enlisted, as well as a third-party user experience measurement specialist and a focus group consisting of existing subscribers. With all these research findings and key insights at our disposal, we crafted a strategy that would best achieve all the objectives.

The Approach

User Experience

Our research identified issues with navigation and page formatting, both of which needed to be clearer and more streamlined. There were also additional features that users wanted from the site, such as improved map functionality and enhanced location services. In addition, we aimed to increase retention rates by improving communication between the publisher and users, and adding interactive features.

Technical Infrastructure

Our analysis of site users illustrated that 45% had been accessing the website via their mobile phone, so supporting these users was a major objective. A responsive web design was assembled using the latest HTML5/CSS3 technologies and we employed a series of different techniques to improve rendering performance. This ensured that all content was optimized across all devices. We also advocated a technical migration from PHP to the highly advanced Node.js, to allow for greater capacity and scalability. In addition, we developed a content management system using Backbone.js to give the Times+ content team almost infinite control over the different website elements.

Redesign

Our team began working on a fresh and open design, tailored for different devices and linking in with the Times rebranding, as well as the new strapline ‘Events, Offers, Extras’. We also worked on ways to minimize clutter and improve the typography, something users were particularly concerned about.

The Product

Screen-shots of the optimised Times+ site across various devices.

Responsive web design

A tile system for PC users and a horizontal touch swipe system for mobile. Times+ users receive the same rich mix of ‘Events, Offers, Extras’, beautifully designed and optimized across all devices.

Screen-shot of the Times+ homepage.

Fresh and open homepage design

Utilising as much of the desktop space as possible, making it image-rich and reducing the volume of copy on the page.

Times+ navigation categories.

Streamlined navigation

Stripped back to ‘events’, ‘offers’ and ‘extras’, the main navigation reinforces the brand proposition.

Node.js logo.

Robust and flexible technical infrastructure

After a migration from PHP to the more scalable Node.js, the platform now facilitates far higher levels of traffic.

Eat Books logo.

Fluid system of responsive promos

Adaptable ad placements accommodate internal Times promotions - giving more of an editorial feel.

Screen-shot of the Times+ map functionality.

Enhanced map functionality and location services

Using the Google maps API to improve map functionality, plus integrating location services with user accounts using GPS.

Video player example footage.

Interactive features

A cross-platform video player designed to allow users to stream or download archived footage and, in a few cases, live events. The ability to share content across all platforms, great as an acquisition tool to entice non-subscribers.

The Results

Clock have run Times+ since its inception in 2008 and the figures show just how valuable an asset it is for The Times and The Sunday Times. Up to 65% of eligible subscribers are engaged with Times+. For those active Times+ users, the churn rate is as low as 8%, compared with 43% for subscribers not engaged with Times+. Times+ users are twice as likely to recommend The Times and The Sunday Times, while the click-through rate on the Times+ newsletter is double the News UK average.

The new site went live in February 2014, and initial stats show increased mobile use, reduced bounce rate (down to 18%), increased dwell time (up to 40%) and a huge increase in users. It’s early days, but we’re expecting big things from 2014 and beyond.

View
Site

Sound Interesting?

Got a question? Want some more detail? We'd love to hear from you, contact Jason on +44 (0)1923 261166 or jason.treloar@clock.co.uk.