New content platform gets Voetbal International ready for the future

Voetbal International has rebuilt the new content platform for Voetbal International (VI). By treating the CMS as a content engine that operates smoothly, safely and at high speed, we have been able to give the editors the platform tool they need and transform the online business model.

Voetbal International logo

A race against the clock

Publishing breaking news, like sports and football, can be brutal. A key requirement is the ability to peak. “It’s a race against the clock,” says Voetbal International’s Product Owner, Mathijs Kraai. “A bit exaggerated, but the publisher that is first to publish the news gets all the traffic.” This means that a CMS has to be easy to use, to enable the fast creation of articles and other content. Peaks bring challenges for publishers. If there is big, breaking news, an editor sends a push message to registered users, then in one go, the number of active users increases tenfold. If content is slow or delayed, the user experience suffers. A digital platform has to be able to take on peak loads and to scale this in the future. Voetbal International (VI) also wanted to personalize the online experience, to reflect content preferences in order to increase reader loyalty and engagement.


Future-proof and user-friendly content management

VI chose to use Magnolia CMS in a hybrid headless fashion: both using Magnolia’s traditional server-side rendering, and exposing REST APIs that serve all kinds of distribution channels. New apps were developed that are directly connected to the CMS. When new channels appear, the CMS is ready for them. used Magnolia to make VI’s content management future-proof and user-friendly. Magnolia’s stories app was easily customized to fit in with how VI editors prefer to make, curate and distribute content in the fastest way. In contrast to other CMS authoring interfaces, editors are free to control the experience, not just fill content in fields. For example, they can arrange all elements of a story, including images and even where the paywall appears in an article.

Before the redesign of the new site, VI had worked with a paywall that excluded (in part) non-paying readers. The new structure enabled it to create VI PRO, where the black-and-white paywall has been replaced with a 'try before you buy' model. This is driving large numbers of users into the VI PRO conversion funnel: everyone can now read five PRO articles free of charge before receiving a subscription offer. Using previous surfing patterns, the platform now makes personalized content suggestions. This brings even more visitors into contact with premium content and opens up opportunities for some to be converted via the metered model to
a paid PRO subscription.

VI homepage

Fast publishing, more readers

Shortly after the launch of the site and mobile apps in April 2017, VI saw the first successes. VI is now consistently the first to publish and distribute news and match reports via push notifications to the apps. The platform also coped with the high loads of all kinds of peak periods. More noteworthy is the commercial effect. PRO content is more popular than ever with a 35% increase in page views, close to 3,000 new account registrations per week, and growing subscription numbers. One of the most popular articles on the near-appointment of the Dutch national football coach (‘Waarom Henk ten Cate bondscoach was en daarna weer niet’) was read 130,000 times and led to 2,600 new users signing up. Scrum team

Agile product development

A joint vision is vital when the playing field is subject to so many changes. To enable this, introduced a collaboration on the basis of agile product development. A unique aspect of how we work is the phased approach on the basis of Tracks and Sprints. In a Track 0 we elaborate a vision of collaboration, technology and product together with the client, thereby generating a joint vision: where are we going and what Sprints do we need to get there? We see that this kind of approach helps our clients to tackle the challenges in a controlled way.

Watch the video case presentation (DX Day Berlin, 19 October 2017) went above and beyond to make our new digital platform suit our needs and perform beautifully. I have no doubt that we will be happy customers for many years to come.
Mathijs Kraai, Head of IT and Product Owner, Voetbal International


  • Multi-client team
    3,000 new account registrations per week
  • Numbers
    35% increase in page views
  • Magnolia
    Developed in Magnolia CMS
  • Award
    Nomination Dutch Interactive Awards (Content)

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