News UKMaking Digital Puzzles Accessible to Millions

Since 2014, as News UK's preferred supplier of digital puzzles, Digital Marmalade has been working on creating a puzzle platform that serves digital puzzles to all the group's publications. News UK is a giant of the UK publishing sector with newspaper titles such as The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun under its umbrella. This relationship extends around the globe to other subsidiaries such as Dow Jones in the United States and News Corp Australia.

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The Times Puzzle Development

Digital Marmalade was initially approached to build an application that would generate, manage and publish the world famous Times Crossword daily puzzles, across all digital platforms.

The project proved to be a huge global success and we were subsequently commissioned to build and integrate a further thirteen puzzles onto the platform.

The brain teasers, previously only available in The Times T2 paper supplement, were transformed into a set of engaging digital puzzles using advanced HTML5 and JavaScript code. The games feature in The Times 7 Day tablet app on iOS, Android and Kindle, as well as online. From number puzzles like Cell Blocks and Suko through to grid based word puzzles such as Polygon and Lexica, this phase of development considerably broadened the digital puzzle offering, whilst keeping the design, branding and game play consistent.

The Times Puzzles on iPad Slides
The Times Puzzles on iPad Slides
The Times Puzzles on iPad Slides
The Times Puzzles on iPad Slides
The Times Puzzles on iPad Slides

Puzzle Microsites

The puzzles form a large part of The Times subscription package and as such needed to be seamlessly integrated within The Times tablet application.

The new digital puzzles section features 'Number' and 'Word' categories where uses can easily access both 'Featured' and 'Popular' daily puzzles. There is also an archive of previous puzzles so avid players are now able to catch-up on anything they might have missed.

The Sun Puzzles

It was only a matter of time before The Sun came onto the puzzle platform. The Sun's smartphone team were looking to include some exciting new additions to their product and they knew that puzzles would be just the ticket.

From the outset the puzzle platform was built with a integrated branding engine and this flexibility ensured that the rollout of crosswords and thirteen other puzzles into the Sun app was a quick and smooth process.

In this phase we also developed two new puzzle additions to the platform – Word Search and Two-Speed Crosswords.

The Sun Puzzles on iPhone Slides
The Sun Puzzles on iPhone Slides
The Sun Puzzles on iPhone Slides

Automated Publishing

As well as adding news puzzles and brands onto the platform we also focussed on streamlining the puzzle generation and publishing processes.

We have provided an option for each puzzle to be auto generated by 'pulling' puzzle configuration data directly from JSON feeds from the setters. Automated publishing settings for each puzzle are also available.

It's a nifty solution that reduces staff overhead, whilst maintaining Editorial control over the process. For The Sun in particular, these features mean that puzzles are delivered directly to their customers, on a daily basis, without any need for human involvement! Puzzles data can still be manually created, reviewed, edited and published as may be required

See our The Times – Crossword Application Case Study.

Screenshot of News UK Content Management System
We are delighted with Digital Marmalade, our preferred supplier of puzzles and the puzzle management platform. The news publishing industry requires work to progress at breakneck speeds, and our flagship puzzle products cater for some of our fiercest readers – there's no room for error. Over the past 2 years the platform has developed into a highly sophisticated solution thanks to DM's excellent communication, solid working practices and diligent, highly skilled design and dev teams.
Lee Cross, Product Manager - Puzzles, News UK

Sudoku

This one took a while coming, but how can it be called a creditable puzzle platform without the inclusion of the mighty 'Sudoku'. Second only in popularity to the Crossword, this is an immensely popular puzzle which needs little introduction. Get playing today!

The Times puzzles in multiple device screens

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