In 1925, The Telegraph became the first daily newspaper in the UK to publish a crossword puzzle, and puzzles have been an essential part of the readers’ experience ever since then.
So when the company decided to launch a new subscription-based puzzle Web site nearly a century later, it knew it needed to create an online experience that would keep its loyal puzzle players engaged.
Moving from a print to a digital realm can be risky for puzzles, so The Telegraph was aware that it needed to make the entire experience appealing and accessible to those accustomed to enjoying their puzzles in the print edition. At the same time, it needed to be fresh enough to win over new fans.
Creating a new experience
The Telegraph identified three key markets it needed to attract:
- Existing players who enjoyed the crosswords, Codewords, and Sudoku puzzles in the print newspaper.
- Existing digital subscribers who were not familiar with the online puzzles features.
- New audiences who weren’t familiar with either The Telegraph or its puzzles offerings.
To do this, however, it needed to create a site that would stand out in a crowded online space. It was crucial to develop a fresh look that appealed to new subscribers while retaining the familiarity that existing subscribers had come to expect.
The new Telegraph Puzzles Web site was designed to be reminiscent of the newspaper experience but also be modern and inviting. The result was a user-friendly experience delivered through a bright, stylish landing page inspired by Wes Anderson’s 2014 visually striking film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
In addition to the familiar favourites, Telegraph Puzzles was expanded to offer new puzzles and attract different types of puzzle fans. The puzzles offered on the site include the new word game PlusWord, two versions of Codewords (regular and tough), and the mathematical logic puzzle Kakuro.
Scoring with games
To further drive engagement, Telegraph Puzzles introduced streaks and achievements, offering the opportunity to earn tokens as a reward for playing every day. This also helped encourage users to try new games.
Telegraph Puzzles was introduced in 2022 and had an outstanding first year. This not only reestablished puzzles as an integral part of Telegraph’s business as a subscription product, but as a tool for improving the engagement and retention of its news subscribers.
In the first five months alone, the Puzzles subscriber base grew by more than 55% and saw an impressive week-over-week growth of more than 18%. Churn declined dramatically and, compared to other news products, the survival curve of Puzzles subscribers is 10% higher.
In the first year, The Telegraph far exceeded its projection for annual subscriptions sold, which indicates that subscribers enjoyed a high level of engagement with the new offering. And, notably, 61% of the Puzzles subscribers were new to The Telegraph, indicating they found an effective way to tap into a new audience.
It now has become a pillar of the Telegraph’s subscription business.