We met il manifesto at the end of our intensive two years research and development period. It was like a perfect match, a bunch of professionals starting up their dream, and a four decades newspaper facing the risk of being shut down.
The evolving role of a news organization
il manifesto is an Italian newspaper with more than 40 years of publishing history. Their presence on digital channels have been early – since 1995 – but limited, and as we started consulting them on the opportunity to release an iOS App at the beginning of 2013, the project scope then evolved to include an Android version, a new website for their daily digital edition and a subscription system able to manage digital and print subscribers at once.
thePrintLabs have been tightly working with the newsroom and with the managers to achieve the result of bringing the newspaper on almost every digital device with the same easy to use workflow on WordPress, applying clean layouts for the optimal reading experience across devices.
Consultancy and insight sharing are the key for successful deployments
The ongoing, two and a half year long, relationship with il manifesto as been among our most successful, both in terms of achievements and of professional skill development. We have been learning from the issues that the newsroom faces every day and the insights generated from full access to metrics and business model decisions, thus benefiting the products and the quality of the platform.
They have also been among the first newspapers to adopt an agile and modern approach to HTML based digital editions, allowing us to deploy new products from within the same platform and reaching out to multi-faceted audiences across devices and reading habits.
The brand have largely benefited from the pure reading experience of the daily edition available on the Web, as a mobile App for iOS and Android that also includes the PDF replica, as well as single article downloads for eBook readers. Subscribers have kept growing and exploring the reading opportunities offered by bundle subscription plans, and many of them decided to buy a paper + digital plan, thus also pushing the legacy business model for the years ahead.
Publishing platform and design for reading
After the initial deployment of the iOS App, we started working on the Web side and the custom made subscription system to achieve a complete turnkey platform able to manage content, users, products, subscriptions and payments as well as to drive digital editions on mobile.
We focused on design proposals that would at the same time strengthen the brand and create a quiet, content focused, reading experience.
The main target would have been driving subscriptions thanks to the growth of an engaged audience discovering content on Apps, social media and Search Engines/Google News. The metered paywall running on every article would let drip users from social networks and search engines, and would let unlimited free reading of the op-ed section. Among the deliverables we had a management system in WordPress to allow every journalist, often working remotely across continents, to easily edit, review and publish articles on every output channels.
Long term commitment to a fast changing newsroom role
We have seen our business proposition grow thanks to a relationship that started from the technology point of view, and then developed to include insight sharing on business models, editorial strategies and proposals as well as evaluating the cost-opportunity of choices and new features. The thePrintLabs / il manifesto partnership has evolved on a long term commitment to consult, train and develop everything related to digital editions and channels. There’s plenty of space for improvement and new investments to evolve the role of a daily newspaper in the digital information age, and the platform is growing fast around the idea of managing structured content from a central repository and release variants to meet demanding users’ needs that constantly evolve.
The key driving factor will be the connection between us as digital strategy partners, and the newsroom adaptability to evolving scopes and behaviours.