With Drupal 9 on the horizon for June 2020 and end-of-life for both Drupal 7 & 8 following in November 2021, upgrading to Drupal 8 is your best move right now.
In a nutshell, if your website is still running on Drupal 7 you’re missing out on Drupal 8’s game-changing, performance focused and engaging experience. Since the development of Drupal 6 & 7, the way we use the internet has changed - your website now needs to be responsive across many devices with the focus moving from desktop to smartphones, tablets and more! Drupal 7 may be shoehorned into this but Drupal 8 is built with flexibility at its core. For a thriving, high performing, future-proofed website, upgrading to Drupal 8 brings an abundance of benefits.
Upgrading from Drupal 7 to 8 is your last major upgrade
Marking a big change in the way Drupal works, both Drupal 7 & 8 are losing support in November 2021. This is huge as Drupal has always supported one back version. This change comes alongside another break with tradition, Drupal 9 is being built within 8, heralding a new era of quick and easy upgrades. This approach makes upgrading to 9 equivalent to a minor update rather than the previously large and difficult migrations.
The important point to note here is that the leap from 8 to 9 will be significantly easier and less expensive than 7 to 8. By upgrading to 8 now, you will be ahead of the game and in the best situation for a seamless move to Drupal 9.
So why not wait and go straight to Drupal 9?
An obvious question and in the past this may have been a valid consideration. This time however, the outlook is different. With the upcoming changes in the building of Drupal 9, it is highly recommended to upgrade to 8 first - as this is the most efficient path to 9. It is possible to wait until the release of Drupal 9, however this would require a large upgrade hindered by time restrictions as Drupal 7 reaches end-of-life and loss of support, with Drupal’s focus becoming further far removed from Drupal 7 and increasing its security risks. As both 7 & 8 reach the end of life simultaneously, there will be an increase in demand for upgrades, increasing pressure on your time and resources.
Even without taking 9 into consideration, Drupal 8 is, in and of itself, a worthwhile investment over Drupal 7. With over 200 new features, Drupal 8 is without doubt, far superior to 7.
As we all know, when pages don’t load, people don’t wait.
To make sure your website loads swiftly and smoothly, Drupal 8 is the fastest performing version so far. This is a huge plus for your website’s performance not only with your customers but also your search engine rankings. Loading time is a major player in the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your website. Drupal’s Content Delivery Network (CDN) combined with its caching integration (allowing smaller sections of a page to be republished as changes occur) ensures a faster speed for your website. Combine this faster performance with Drupal 8’s centralised media management and you have both speed and social media covered, two aspects of growing importance for online engagement.
Upgrading to Drupal 8 gives your website enhanced accessibility, everywhere.
As mentioned earlier, your website needs to be responsive across an array of devices from desktop to mobile, tablets to watches! With this in mind, Drupal 8 is a mobile-first, mobile friendly design. It is designed first and foremost for mobile devices which combined with an amazingly beneficial media management system, opens up opportunities to engage with your customers in ways that are quickly becoming second nature to all of us.
Gone are the days of desktop focused browsing, in a busy, mobile focused world, your customers are more than likely to find you via their phone. Drupal 8 makes this easy for them. Add to this the multilingual abilities of Drupal 8 with 100 languages and you have a winning combination for accessibility and client engagement. This multilingual aspect of Drupal 8 can detect the browser language and allows you to make certain navigation links or content available in some countries and not in others.
In addition to its mobile-first design, increased performance and all-encompassing media management, Drupal 8 also has some great new improvements to its WYSIWYG editor, from now on, site admins can access the front-end of their website, make changes in real-time and see the results, in context, immediately. This simple, straight-forward access without having to go to the back-end for every edit, offers more flexibility while saving you time.
Another change of direction with Drupal 8 is its embracing of Symfony, a PHP library freeing up Drupal’s time for creating features for CMS driven applications. It has since launched a few innovative features including RESTful, this allows native mobile apps or web services to consume or feed information to and from a Drupal site.
Upgrading to 8 will be your last large leap and well worth the investment.
Approaching Drupal 9 via 8 is the most efficient way to move forward, with 9 being built gradually within the structure of 8 and essentially removing depreciated parts of the CMS, thus a small step to upgrade. The difference in financial cost is minimal, as a large upgrade would be required within the next two years due to the end-of-life for both 7 & 8 in 2021. Upgrading now to Drupal 8 is the obvious choice for future-proofing your website, giving you a better overall experience and greater flexibility for your business going forward.
Once upgraded to 8 you will be perfectly prepared and positioned as Drupal 9 appears on the horizon and slips smoothly into place.