If you’re an SME, start planning and budgeting now.

If you decided about 10ish years ago to move to Drupal 7 to take advantage of everything the open-source web platform can do for your company, it’s getting close to that time to update it. Drupal 7 is reaching the end of it’s life and this is not a simple “push here, click that” update — especially if your company extends the core functionality of Drupal with multiple modules customizing site functionality. 

Come November 2022, Drupal 7 will not be supported
It’s like saying goodbye to an iPhone 6 and moving to iPhone 12 — a little scary to make the move at first but there’s so many new bells and whistles, you’ll wonder why you didn’t update sooner.

The core issue is that if you employ a custom Drupal build and/or multiple custom-tailored third-party modules, you’re looking at more like a rebuild of the site than an upgrade, which is a larger price point to consider. 

Large, commercial, multinational businesses whose website is run on Drupal will most likely have this migration covered by their internal web and technology teams. If you are an SME, you’ll most likely need to rely on the expertise of a web agency to help guide you through the ups and downs of the migration because it needs to be done right.

An SME’s website has to be the hardest working tool in their marketing toolkit. Take this as an opportunity to not only make the Drupal technology update but also to analyze if your website is meeting your business goals, or even update the design or expand on the site if the brand has evolved. 

As you think through the process, here’s some ideas to help guide you on your journey:

What to expect with the demise of Drupal 7
Drupal 7’s end-of-life has been extended a couple times with consideration to the effect of COVID-19 and other factors. Currently, community support is planned to end on November 28, 2022. Vendor extended support will be available for a fee until at least 2025 but in most cases, we recommend planning ahead and investing that money into the functionality of your new site rather than delaying your upgrade.  Note for Drupal 8 users: Drupal 8 will reach its end of life sooner than Drupal 7. Drupal 8 support will end in November 2021 due to support ending for an underlying technology Symfony 3. 

Now’s a good time to review your analytics
If you haven’t visited your site analytics for a while, now is the time to brush off those cobwebs. Review the pages that get the least amount of traffic and assess if you are maintaining any content or functionality that gets little to no traffic. A migration can be a good opportunity to clean house and streamline your site. 

Preparing for the Drupal 9 migration process
While moving from Drupal 8 to 9 is a relatively easier process, moving from 7 to 9 is not a simple flip of a switch. Starting with 8, Drupal is using the Symfony framework which increases the complexity of the migration.

Tips for successful migration process include:

  • Plan ahead. The most important thing you need for any migration is time. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the new features of Drupal such as paragraphs and the flexible page builder (see below).
  • Discuss budget with your development team. Drupal websites share the same core but most differ in terms of front-end styling, module configuration, and custom functionality. Your website migration process will be as unique as your website and your development team will need to assess how much can be migrated using available tools and what will need to be migrated and updated manually.

Look forward to the promise of Drupal 9
Drupal 8 and 9 have some new features in core that Drupal 7 didn’t. Two that content managers may like are the flexible page builder, which lets you arrange content on a page using a drag and drop interface, and Workspaces, which you can use to stage multiple changes to your site and publish them all at once. Improved caching significantly boosts performance. Breakpoint media queries improve media display on different screen sizes. CKEditor was added to Drupal core as well as default support for multilingual website development. There has also been a great deal of legacy code cleanup to set a firmer foundation for future Drupal 9 features including layout, admin, and update enhancements.

Of course, Drupal has a lot of resources to help you along your journey. If you have any questions, Adventure House builds and maintains Drupal websites for SMEs from the simple to the complex. Schedule a meeting to discuss your Drupal migration needs.