The Times Logo

Digested Read

Novoda was delighted to be approached by The Times & The Sunday Times, two of the UK’s most prestigious newspapers. Find out how we delivered the new Android app, boosting unique visitors by 32%. This built on our successful partnership with News UK, following our app development for The Sun, the biggest-selling newspaper in the UK.

Key Themes
Frontend Android engineering • Product Strategy • Product Design • Agile Delivery

The Times app on phone

2.8 – 4.2

Play Store rating increase


Additional articles read (on average)


Increase in user satisfaction


increase in monthly active users

The Challenges

Developing this Android app for The Times & The Sunday Times gave us some unique challenges:

  • New content uploaded numerous times throughout the day required a seamless refresh process
  • Sophisticated, tech-savvy audience and a paywall for all content meant we had to deliver on very high expectations from users
  • All content elements had to be available offline for readers on the move
  • Access to images, videos, interactive graphics and sound clips without compromising on performance and load speed was critical
  • Significant readership of users aged 50-75 meant we had to keep accessibility considerations in mind at all times
  • We needed an API that could give us the flexibility to make changes quickly, which The Times API would struggle with on top of its own daily workload
The Times App screenshots

Our Approach

Do the groundwork

We started as we always do: by immersing ourselves in the brand. We learned as much as we could about The Times and its readers by delving into the extensive customer research, provided by the team at IDEO, and reading every publication we could get our hands on. Then we spent some time using their existing app and holding bi-weekly customer interviews to identify key issues.

Testing 1–2–3

Continuous, scenario-based usability testing allows us to highlight and prioritise usability issues to iterate on throughout product development. In order to A/B test the native application effectively, we built two simultaneous run-time versions of the app which could be easily switched between in the testing sessions. We held regular cross-discipline workshops, which allowed us to define the information architecture early and prioritise the most important product features.

With such a vast amount of content to present, it was essential to ensure quick, intuitive navigation between sections and articles. The results of our usability tests showed that standard Android patterns would be most effective to achieve that. Our traffic light feedback system helped all members of the team identify the priorities raised during usability testing at a glance.

The Times screenshots

Collaborate and listen

In order to really understand the business and truly integrate with the team at The Times, we set up a project base within their offices and worked closely with their researchers, designers, developers, and management team every step of the way. Working onsite together helps to build relationships and create an atmosphere of trust and partnership that makes the whole development process much more streamlined. We had daily 10 minute stand-up meetings with the cross-company project team and weekly refinement sessions to help us plan ahead.

Master the technology

To optimise our performance we needed a dedicated, reliable API written specifically for our development needs. So we built one. This enabled us to work quickly and effectively to produce prototypes, delighting our client.

The Times Design Layouts

The Finished Product

After several months of collaborative development with thorough testing at every phase, we launched The Times & The Sunday Times Android app. Key factors in the finished product were:

Seamless offline experience — whether deep underground on the Tube or cruising at 30,000ft, users of the Android app enjoy uninterrupted browsing with automatic downloads of each new edition.

Intuitive interaction — we used colour-coding and standard Android navigation patterns, based on Google’s Material Design guidelines, to make browsing totally intuitive for users.

Automatic web syncing — content saved by the user in the My Articles section on the website will automatically sync with the app for easy reading offline, and vice versa.

Streamlined multimedia files — despite large bundles of images and rich media files being uploaded daily, we were able to minimise the strain on the app and provide the best quality output.

Easily accessible — we optimised the experience for visually impaired users, with considerations for easy reading, text resizing and a first-class TalkBack experience.

The Outcome

This new Android application was a significant step forward for The Times & The Sunday Times and their readers. The results speak for themselves:

  • Articles read per visit rose from 2.5 to 6
  • Unique visitors grew by 32%
  • Net Promoter Score rose from 4 to 12
  • Ease of use improved by 10%
  • User satisfaction increased by 15%

Excellent. So much better than it used to be. Very happy with navigation and readability.

Graham S, subscriber

Talk to Carl

In 30 minutes or less, you’ll be able to feel if we’re a fit and get some zero-commitment, helpful advice on what to do next.