Sheffield City Council wins award for
exceptional website built on Magnolia

Sheffield is one of England’s largest cities and third largest metropolitan authority, with a population of over 500,000. The Sheffield City Council hosts seven websites, including the main council site and six partner sites. 

Sheffield City Council rebuilt its complete web infrastructure within a unified technology platform driven by Magnolia. Implemented by Technophobia, the new system makes it quicker and easier for the council to provide information online. This has enabled the council to offer people more online services.  The council also won a national award for its ‘exceptional’ customer service skills, thanks to the development of the website and improved waiting times for residents. 

Industry: Public services
Country: United Kingdom
Implemented by: G2G3 Digital

Why Sheffield City Council chose Magnolia


Ease of use

The user-friendly interface makes it easy for authors to create and manage content.



With Magnolia, it's easy to flexibly change and integrate tools.


Multichannel content

Magnolia allows the council to optimize content for multiple channels to support everything from mobile phones to desktops.


Open source

With Magnolia, it's easy to add code and functions to create great customizations. 



The site uses a full range of third party tools which allow citizens to renew permits, pay bills and check parking availability.


Easy customization

With Magnolia, it was easy to add customizations like the editor dashboard to test content readability


We were able to integrate enterprise search technology straight into Magnolia to deliver a best-of-breed federated search capability running across all of the sites. For end users this one simple development changes the usability of the council’s entire online services. Users no longer need to start out on the correct one of seven websites to find the information they are looking for.

The challenge

Improving accessibility

Sheffield City Council was aware of the fact that people expect more services to be available online these days. It hosts seven websites, including the main council site and six partner sites, which had previously been run using a legacy CMS system. As part of its eServices strategy to deliver more council services online, it asked Technophobia to rebuilt its web infrastructure to offer visitors more online services. 

By offering services online, the council wanted to reduce waiting times and boost satisfaction levels for visitors and staff


Sheffield City Council can add new functions when it needs to engage with its citizens

The solution

The advantages of an open java platform

With the decision to adopt a common Java platform for the council’s online infrastructure, Technophobia migrated all of the council's websites to a Java system. This means that all sites can now draw on central services like search and analytics, making operations much more efficient.

In additon, the choice of an open platform gives the council the option to avoid big expensive upgrades and gradually introduce new features cost-effectively as they are needed. 

A custom made implementation

Technophobia integrated enterprise search technology straight into Magnolia  to deliver a best-of-breed search capability across all seven sites.

They also customized the interface so that content editors could instantly check the readability of new content via a simple traffic light warning system. Further custom functionality developed by Technophobia includes powerful analytics capabilities built into the editor dashboard. Where analytics data was previously accessible to a few power users, the dashboard lets all content editors see detailed information on their pages such as page visits, unique users, and search keywords.

Magnolia's easy-to-use interface allows editors to see exactly how the page appears to site visitors as they create and edit content. The previous CMS did not allow in-page editing so changes were time consuming and more difficult to get right first time.

In addition to increasing efficiency, the ability to customize the administration system functionality has also allowed the council to add features that improve accessibility and user friendliness.


One of the most exciting developments is how we have customised the interface for content editors. We have created a special dashboard that scores the readability of new content, highlighting problem areas like excessive use of long words or complex sentences via a simple traffic light warning system. By reminding editors of this as they write, it helps us to build best practice into our day to day operations and continuously improve our online offer.

The result

Increased engagement with citizens

The new platform has made it easy for council staff to engage with citizens online, allowing it to deliver greater efficiencies and value. Citizens can pay bills, renew library books, make complaints and apply for jobs, all online. As a result, the council was praised for its high levels of customer service at a recent inspection.  

More than 40% of people are accessing the website via a smartphone or tablet, and the council is expecting this to rise. This has resulted in less waiting time, and happier citizens. 

Sheffield's homepage

Independent analyst review of Magnolia

Magnolia has earned deservedly high marks for extensibility and integration potential. Few systems can claim to be as open or as amenable to custom app development.

Kas Thomas, J. Boye

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