The il manifesto website is better that it was a couple years ago. That’s certain. But what makes it better? And what decisions did we have to make to get there?

Editor Matteo Bartocci, in this editorial, has already explained some of these ideas, going deep into the substance of the latest update.

But as the developers of il manifesto’s digital products, we at thePrintLabs tried to collect our ideas and draw an outline of why we made our choices. In the end, every decision we made was about one question: What user experience did we want to deliver to their readers?

This is unusual because most publishers have other goals in mind. They care about their readers, of course, but they also care about their advertisers and, sometimes, their egos. None of that was the case working with il manifesto.

We first partnered with il manifesto three years ago, building a relationship with a high level of collaboration professionally and personally. We consult each other on both the editorial and technical side, weighing risks and opportunities together. The relationship has survived every setback.

Thanks to this approach we could learn from mistakes, and strengthen our problem-solving skills to the benefit of the final outcome.

It all started back in 2013, with the development of our first digital products for il manifesto.

Even though 2013 wasn’t yet the year of content blockers and dropping digital ad revenue, we wanted to try something different. We decided to focus on a clean and reader-focused presentation of daily news, ignoring the page view gold rush for high frequency and low quality.

Advertisements aren’t the revenue model; reader satisfaction is.

To respect users’ privacy, we also decided to keep to a minimum the number of tracking scripts. We were among the first to focus on engagement, preferring Chartbeat — which lets journalists track how much time users spend with their journalism and where they go for further reading — over tools that monitor their web behavior to sell them ads.

In developing our app for iPad, our unique aim was to provide the audience with the best possible reading experience. It was important for us to respect the loyal readership with fast issue downloads and an easily usable app.

We also wanted to respect the journalists. For them, we developed a distraction-free work environment and essential, intuitive tools on the backend. They had — and still have — one newsroom for paper and digital products, and we needed to provide them with an easy and complete workflow.

Based on the first app we developed the iPhone version, a new Android App and their website. On top of that we built, from the ground up, a subscription-management system, a metered paywall and e-commerce features.

Their website is now at its second release. It is a subtle but meaningful redesign that took months to develop, after deep consideration about what makes il manifesto a unique daily publication.

We present content in its best shape and form, removing the container and leaving the space to words and images, telling stories and providing an original point of view. Again, it is centred on the reader’s experience.

In a publishing industry intoxicated by click-baiting articles, advertising and advertorials, if il manifesto can remain that beautiful publishing anomaly — a clean and transparent news product — then our work will be considered a success.

This article has been originally published at on May 13th 2015.