New York Times New Design Not Optimized for Conversions, Includes $5 Trial

The New York Times launched a new site design today that’s truly beautiful, but may lead to mixed results when it comes to increasing conversion rates and subscription revenues.

That’s mainly because the new site seems optimized for skimming articles, which means more users will hit that 10 article meter limit. But the paywall overlay leaves much to be desired in terms of best practices.

First, the new site has an amply amount of white space, which makes for easier reading (really, you should go check it out). But what’s key in the new design from a UX and conversion perspective is the little arrow on the right of an article page that lets readers “flip the page” to another article. This one change is sure to get more users hitting that 10-article limit. There are also other features, like an article gallery in lieu of a navigation bar up top (the navigation bar has been minimized to a box on the left) that will also help foster exploration on the site.

After you hit the 10-article limit, the article copy fades out (to white) and you’re presented with the conversion overlay below:

New York Times new metered paywall

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This overlay offers far less contrast than The Times’ original overlay:

New York Times old metered paywall

The problem with the new overlay is the color contrast. A light grey on a light background doesn’t catch a prospect’s eye. Moreover, testing has shown that a darker background helps convert more on an overlay — the darker the better, in fact. And lastly, the button to “See My Options” is completely lost on the new overlay — it should be any other color than grey.

The other thing NYT changed was their trial pricing and length. Instead of “99¢/week for 4 weeks” trials, the site is now advertising $5 trials for 12 weeks. That’s an interesting change, especially since rumor has it that the 99¢ trials were getting a 90% retention rate.

NYT has decided to stick with its weekly pricing, advertising $3.75, $5 and $8.75 a week after the trial. I still find this curious since almost all other digital subscriptions are sold on a monthly or annual basis (and I believe NYT collects payment on a monthly basis). However, it does make a subscription to NYT look cheaper than it actually is, which may be helping conversions.

New York Times pricing trial

We’ll definitely keep you posted on any data we get on conversion rates and subscription sales for The New York Times after this redesign, but in the meantime, I’m interested to know what our readers think of the new site, so please comment below.