Voetbal International – digital goes top again

16 May 2017

With the magazine market under pressure, the digital channel is taking on an increasingly key role for ‘Voetbal International’ (VI). The digital channel has to be the first central point of call for the football aficionado to find the right selection of reliable information. So to score on this digital front, VI is going full out on the attack. How did we makes this switch, together with VI and what challenges we had to tackle to achieve this?


Despite the strong rise in the online presence of customers, VI is some way from maximising benefit from this. What VI needed was a new platform to create new revenue models and ways of bringing content. Collaborating with info.nl on the basis of agile product development has put VI back on top form.

A changing playing field

Men are getting their new news increasingly online, where they scan the headings and not have to delve. This affects the number of subscriptions and separate sales as well as the advertising revenues from the magazines. It is therefore essential to be able to offer an attractive digital subscription and advertising model.

The printed magazine has traditionally been a pillar of VI. The digital channel came along later and so far has failed to shine as the team’s star player. Given the trends referred to above, VI realises that a tactical readjustment is needed to make this happen. This is where the possibilities of other forms of media, like video and audio, other ways of highlighting content, such as personalisation and notification, may be better.

The basis, a flexible and solid platform

Such a tactical switch requires a flexible player able to quickly adapt to his new role and, at the same time, be technically solid enough to cope with the pressure. The Magnolia CMS was scouted as a means to flesh out this new role. Magnolia entered the picture as a CMS framework in which unique requirements can be achieved in a controlled way. The interface has standard elements but the workflow and screen scan be adjusted precisely as you wish. This makes Magnolia perfectly suited as a central hub for external systems such as mobile apps. Info.nl was chosen as Magnolia Partner for strategy and development.

We sense the responsibility. We try constantly to understand as well as possible what someone’s goals are and present the choices as clearly as possible. If you can do that well, the client sees that you understand him. And understanding is the basis for trust.

Joint vision

Apart from having the right players, this tactical readjustment also needs optimum collaboration both inside and outside the team. A joint vision is vital when the playing field is subject to so many changes. To enable this, info.nl 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 gather all the ideas in an initial backlog and structure them in user stories. Then the development of the product can be started in the basis of scrum methodology.


The team comprises developers from info.nl and VI, who are at our office every day. The product owner of VI, Mathijs Kraai, takes the role of playmaker. He is the central point of contact, gathers information and wishes, gathers together the right people and sets the priorities. The scrum master of info.nl coaches and supports the team so that their goals can be achieved. The intimate collaboration between info.nl and VI is highly transparent. We are on the same wavelength. If anything goes wrong, if there are problems or uncertainties, we are both ready to pull out all the stops. That creates both understanding and trust.

After each sprint the team produces a version of the product that is demonstrated at VI to all stakeholders. This allows scope for tactical considerations or modifications and is the moment for the team and the players to excel. This makes the stakeholders fans.

The switch and attack

Recently the new VI site went live, there is a solid base from which to attack. In the build-up VI will be able to convey the news faster and more specifically, which will boost both the number of visitors to the page and advertising income. In addition, a major step will be taken to other revenue models like VI PRO, a digital subscription service, and branded content. At the same time along the flanks a new mobile app will be launched that will make full use of the new possibilities. But it certainly won’t end there.

In this kind of collaboration we are part of the product development together, and so also the success. We see that this kind of approach helps our clients to tackle the challenges in a controlled way. For VI this means that it gains a digital star player able to make the switch and go full out on the attack.

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