Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Why Magnolia CMS version 5 is like no other enterprise software before

Two weeks ago, Magnolia has released version 5 of its long-awaited CMS, to wide industry acclaim. Let's have a quick look on what makes Magnolia 5 such an unparalleled product in todays enterprise software market.

Win the feature war, lose your users.

We have worked on Magnolia 5 for years, starting with early designs back in 2008. The reason it took so long is because the market for content management keeps changing rapidly. To stay competitive, a vendor typically needs to work on features rather than on the platform or user experience. This is why typical CMS's look like they were developed in the 90's, are overcrowded with layers of options and a "death by drop-down menu" style of user interaction design, cobbled together by acquisitions of various components to build an "integrated (!?) software suite".

Topics in the CMS space in the last 5 years

So, which topics did we see since we first started thinking about Magnolia 5? In the last 5 years we have seen the rise of cloud computing, social media and mobile, the gradual switch of CMS selection responsibility from IT to marketing, the late but stellar rise of Javascript as a language for application development on the client, and constantly shifting "most important" aspects of the CMS ecosystem like content vs. meta data, navigation vs. search, SEO, analytics, personalization, experience management, suite vs. best-of-breed etc. As a vendor, trying to follow the latest analyst induced buzzword trending on twitter is a subscription to insanity.

Independent thinking needs independence

In order to stay sane, radical and independent thinking is essential. Luckily, Magnolia's independence (we have no external funding) and sustainable business model (we only sell license subscriptions) allows us to think long-term.  And so we did, back in the summer of 2011, when we decided to completely start from scratch with our designs for Magnolia 5, and think "touch first".

The driving question behind the gorgeous Magnolia 5 user interface was "what would a CMS look like if it were designed for touch". This question lead to a very interesting shift in how we approached the interaction design of Magnolia, because just "translating" a desktop UI to touch doesn't work.

Think touch first

To create a UI that doesn't suck on mobile devices, you need to think touch, think mobile, think limited screen estate, think task-focussed apps. 3000 mockups later we have released Magnolia 5. Not only does it work on tablets, it also has solved many issues users typically face in any other CMS on the market today. By "applifying" the user interface, we simultaneously make the product much easier to use, much easier to personalize and much easier to extend with custom functionality.

HTML5-based Magnolia 5 Apps to the rescue

Magnolia 5 is built to orchestrate your digital marketing, sales and service. By creating custom apps, you can easily achieve that, and with it add significant business value to your virtual presence. The combination of apps with the Pulse (our messaging system) and Favorites, which allow you to create custom "recipes" of related tasks makes using Magnolia both powerful and highly enjoyable.

Magnolia 5: a platform for future growth

As a platform for future development, Magnolia 5 is here to stay with us for many years to come. We envision a range of apps to be made available by us as well as our worldwide network of certified Magnolia partners. Already first partners have started developing apps for Magnolia, and we expect to see initial results at the Magnolia conference in September in Basel. I hope I'll see you there, showing your first Magnolia app. Meanwhile, why don't you go and download Magnolia 5 to see what the future of enterprise software looks like – on your desktop, your touch device and on the move.