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Helping the New Statesman accelerate growth with a new publishing platform, new UX and a brand refresh

New Statesman homepage


  • Increase in weekly users of 29%
  • Increase in return users of 38%
  • Highest subscription level in decades (12% up on the previous record year)

Main deliverables

  • Entirely new UX template for 40+ media sites across 8-10 brands
  • New registration and paywall design
  • Integration of lead generation marketing technology
  • Visual rebrand


New Statesman Media Group (NSMG) is the publisher of the New Statesman as well as a range of other B2B and B2C publications.

NSMG hired me in 2020 to establish a new UX & design team at a time when the business was accelerating its growth and transitioning from a traditional publishing group to a business that brings together the best blend of world-class journalism, data and technology.

We undertook a series of ambitious projects, the most significant of which was the creation of an entirely new publishing platform for all NSMG sites (and later 30+ B2B sites for ‘big sister’ company GlobalData Plc). This included a complete UX redesign, a re-platform for all sites to WordPress, new paywall system, integration of an AI powered marketing technology lead generation solution, and for the New Statesman we took the opportunity to carry out a visual brand refresh, conceived to thrive in digital and print.

Setting goals

The business had ambitions to:

  • Grow internationally and engage new audiences
  • Implement marketing technology to allow clients to target specific audiences with their content and generate sales leads – while causing minimal impact on the editorial reading experience
  • Give the editorial team much greater control and flexibility in day-to-day publishing
  • Reduce reliance on slow and expensive wed development resource

Informed by the audience

The process began with commissioning audience research – a survey with over 3,000 responses from New Statesman readers and 12x 1:1 interviews. This research revealed personas that would help to validate the team’s design decisions and also help us to define our Most Valuable People (MVP) – readers who are most engaged and match the demographic our commercial clients are looking for.

Core opportunities for improvements from the perspective of our audience were also identified, including basic reader types (‘scanners’ and ‘lean-back’ readers), those who want to engage more deeply with the writers, and optimisation of the subscription journey.

Analytics gave us a means to set some measures for success, not least looking for big improvements in loyalty and engagement metrics.

“It’s not a question of lacking information, it’s a case of getting a better filter”
Neil (62)

“I like to get to know the journalist. There’s a social element – you want to have the same thing you have with podcasters and musicians”
Gus (30)


Motivating the business around common goals

We carried out a series of workshops with the business and editorial teams, to make sure we made good use of internal knowledge and to gather everyone around a common set of goals for the project.

From these workshops we were able to further refine and agree the best questions to answer and the problems we were trying to solve, including UX pain points, visual design and brand representation, content & publishing and commercial/client issues.

There was also a very clear ambition to elevate the New Statesman so that it looks like it belongs to the group of highest quality competitor titles (The Atlantic, Economist, The Spectator…) but be differentiated so that it stands out as the unique title it is.

Workshop output
The competition

Bringing business goals and audience research together

Applying the knowledge we had gathered from the audience research and stakeholder workshops we carried out some user journey analysis on the old site design to help cement our UX goals in the minds of the business and document the main pain points our audience were experiencing.

Importantly, this also allowed us to demonstrate how better user journeys also benefit the commercial objectives.

User journey

Design principles to underpin all decisions

I established a set of ‘design principles’, distilled from all the research, to guide all UX and design decisions:

The quality of the design reflects on the quality of the product overall – it must look sharp, identifiable, feel appropriate for the audience and be intuitive to use. First impressions count.

The reader must know where they are and what their options are, wherever they enter the site, and be able to easily find the answer to their question.

Onward journey
Provide clear paths to relevant, related content.

Flexible and scalable
Design and build must be modular and flexible, work well for a range of content types and scenarios.

We are delivering high quality journalism that deserves an elegant and unobtrusive design framework. The UI should enhance not dominate the experience.

Improving registration and subscription flows

On the old site, the registration, subscription and renewal journeys were full of pain points for visitors. We had the opportunity to propose a completely new UX implemented through a new subscription system.

We designed ways to keep new and registered users informed about how many articles are free to view, while promoting the benefits of subscription.


Maintaining quality while moving fast

When you’re moving at pace (and we always were for this stream of work) designers need to be comfortable with an element of compromise. It is generally accepted that we can’t and will not aim for perfection in release one – I therefore find it helpful to work to the following checklist for every delivery, as a way to ensure we always aim for the highest quality possible:

Is this release…

  1. providing value to the user?
  2. helping us learn what we want to learn?
  3. our best effort based on what we know now?

Taking the opportunity to reach further with a visual brand refresh

The print team were looking to make some design changes to the magazine at the same time we were working on the website re-design. Together with the print creative director we saw an opportunity to refresh the New Statesman’s tired visual brand and create a visual language that reflected the business’s ambitions and was conceived to thrive both in print and in digital.

We were able to win support from the business to commission one of Europe’s most acclaimed editorial designers, Mark Porter, to create a visual language conceived for all channels, inspired by the rich history of the title.

We worked closely with Mark, supplying wireframes and research findings to ensure that the UX goals would be enhanced by his ideas for a consistent visual language across all channels.

“Creating what Mark calls a ‘design intelligence’ for the New Statesman means giving equal weight to aesthetics and function. Peter Newman and his team have achieved that with a clean and authoritative website that is intuitive and responsive to readers’ interests, and which accentuates the most essential content. This new aesthetic extends to our podcasts, videos and newsletters, all of which we know are essential as we reach new audiences”

Jason Cowley, Editor-in-chief

New Statesman launch issue
New Statesman launch issue

Since the relaunch has seen increases in weekly users of 29%, in return users of 38% and the highest subscription level in decades (12% up on the previous record year)