Magnolia: not your average headless CMS

by Jan Schulte, Head of Group Consulting at Magnolia
Crown over display of electronic devices
Feb 11, 2019 | 6 MIN

With over 60 billion IoT devices expected to be in homes and businesses by 2024, many brands have made the decision to go headless.

But the headless CMS market is brimming with so much choice that it is becoming an agonizing pain to decide which headless CMS you should invest in.

It seems that most of the headless offerings provide the same features including the ability to push experiences to devices like smart speakers and smart refrigerators as well as providing development flexibility.

That’s all well and good, but thankfully Magnolia is not your average CMS. It provides a number of unique features that can not be found in other headless offerings.

In this article, we take a look at these not-so-average (but superior) features.

Magnolia CMS boasts 95 percent client retention

First of all, Magnolia is an open source headless CMS, which makes it extremely flexible for a multitude of architectural scenarios. The free community edition of Magnolia is well supported by a dedicated group of developers that you can access for free via the Magnolia Forums.

As for the Magnolia enterprise edition, it provides flexible service level agreements from basic coverage during normal business hours to comprehensive support that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With a 95 percent client retention, our customers stay with Magnolia year-after-year. And it is our loyal customers who provide the backbone in helping us drive our product roadmap and recommending our product to their peers.

Explicit and implicit personalization features

Personalization is a key capability of Magnolia. And when we say personalization from a headless CMS perspective, it means adapting your content to the personal preferences of your customer, on the website and beyond. It is well known that a personalized dynamic website is more engaging than a static website, and according to Marketo, 79 percent of customers agree with me.

What’s powerful about Magnolia’s personalization feature is that it provides both implicit and explicit personalization:

  • Explicit personalization is based on characteristics and traits your consumers have declared themselves, either via completing a form online or what has been stored in their profile attributes. Typical traits associated with explicit personalization include age, gender, and language. With this type of personalization, the content that is delivered to the visitor is based on explicit interest.
  • Implicit personalization is based on tracking the user activity as they interact with your site. Implicit traits can sometimes be stored on the profile attributes but the main difference is that the user may not be fully aware of these traits. Magnolia offers user tracking and analytics that allows you to learn more about your visitor as they navigate through your site. Magnolia then uses this information to automatically deliver personalized content that coincides with your visitor’s past behavior.

Both implicit and explicit personalization can be used at the same time. For example, you can get your visitor to declare their gender explicitly and then utilize implicit behavioral analysis to get a better understanding of what product or service they like.

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Customizable and marketer-friendly content authoring

Magnolia comes with a number of content authoring tools to provide marketers and content creators the ability to create an authoring environment that meets the unique requirements of your project or business.

The Pages App (WYSIWYG)

Magnolia’s Pages app is an intuitive WYSIWYG tool that allows marketers and content creators to build experiences based on a library of components. The Pages app can be used to create landing pages, microsites, event pages and even a full website without the need of any previous technical knowledge or experience. It also provides the ability to see the finished result as you are working on it.

Content Editor Apps

Magnolia’s content editor comprises of a framework of multiple apps that facilitates content creation and optimized inline editing of rich, future-proof content like product information, blog posts, news, and other forms of content marketing.

The content editor apps can also create experiences with content blocks like images, videos, text as well as interactive features.

The Stories app, which is one of the content editor apps, can be fully customized to suit your needs. A very popular European-based soccer sports news site utilized the Stories app to develop a content creation platform that suited their needs and allowed them to produce, curate, and distribute content in the fastest way possible. And give them full control of experience delivery.

Content Apps

The Content apps are primarily used for types of content that possess a fixed and predictable structure. They are suitable for simple product listings, categories, events, and anything else that can be stored on a spreadsheet or database table.

Content apps can also be used to display external content like products in an eCommerce system and leads from a CRM. This enables you to develop a holistic experience via combining all of your relevant content together.

Facilitates GDPR compliance

Magnolia is committed to GDPR, the EU regulation that protects the data privacy rights of European citizens. The main thing to keep in mind about GDPR is to ensure you are transparent regarding what personal data you collect and what you intend to use the data for.

To help your company become fully GDPR compliant, Magnolia provides a set of GDPR-dedicated modules, APIs for handling visitor information and manage cookies, sample templates, forms and dialogs, and Visitor and Cookies apps.

An API-driven hybrid headless CMS

Thanks to its API-driven platform, Magnolia can be integrated with other systems as well as your favorite marketing tools and development frameworks so you can create your own custom DXP platform that is best for your business.

Plus as a highly flexible open source platform, Magnolia can be integrated via several ways, as the figure below shows. It can sit right at the heart of a simple network, integrate with a number of external content sources, or become part of a sophisticated environment.

Diagram of headless CMS types

There are several reasons why Magnolia is good for integrations:

  • Standard UI: All integrations with Magnolia follow standard UI patterns. This makes integrating with Magnolia easy to learn and use for both non-technical and technical users.
  • Front-end and back-end: Customizations can be performed by both front-end or back-end developers via configuration, templating and JavaScript. Deeper integrations can be achieved with Java or additional modules.
  • Rich integration API: Magnolia’s REST API allows for integration points at every level and within every aspect of the system.
  • Modular architecture: Magnolia is built on a completely modular architecture. This means you can build the system that has everything you want, and nothing you don't.
  • Custom Java: Developers can create their own Java applications and easily plug it straight into Magnolia.

Centralizes all your assets

Magnolia provides a Digital Assets Management module known as the Assets app. With this app, you can store all your media content including images, videos, audio, Flash, and documents in a single location. Any images that are loaded onto the app are automatically tagged, making it easier to find.

Once the media files are stored on the Assets app, they can be reused on web pages and custom content types. And if you made any changes on one of your files on the Assets app, it updates all the pages and custom content types that displays the media file.

A not-so-average headless CMS boosted By Magnolia 6

Magnolia’s latest release, Magnolia 6, aims to deliver better customer experiences, faster. The newest version features a revamped user interface, AI-powered contextual search which brings relevant search suggestions in real-time, faster content modeling, and an improved UI framework for quicker implementation.

Jan Schulte

About the Author

Working at the intersection of business and technology, Jan helps Magnolia clients succeed with their content management and digital experience initiatives, framing solutions to their custom challenges and opportunities.