Richardson is currently executive editor on Fabulous magazine and replaces former associate editor Gary Thompson who is now director of product development for The Sun and the News of the World.
She said: "I join the team at a thrilling time for newspapers and the internet. Taking the News of the World websites behind the pay wall will be a challenging task, but with our unique content and the team's great skill and hard work, I know the project will be a huge success."
She joined the News of the World as reporter in the Scottish office in 2002 before moving to London as a feature writer. She was later TV editor and then showbiz editor.
News of the World editor Colin Myler said: "Exclusives are our stock in trade - and unique content in every format will be key to the success of paid websites. Rachel is a formidable talent with the drive, energy, enthusiasm and creativity needed to take us to new heights."