Wondering whether you should bother to upgrade your Drupal 6 site? We've broken down a few of the critical reasons why time is running out to make the move.
1. Drupal 6 community support will be discontinued 3 months after Drupal 8 is released.
What does this really mean? Well, to start with you can no longer rely on Drupal to provide any of the necessary security patches to keep your site secure. This is particularly critical if you're storing any customer data on your site. Additionally, if any of your current functionality stops working, nobody will be around to fix it, and certainly no further time will be invested in to developing new functionality. Essentially, Drupal supports two versions at a time – the current version and the most recent past version. Once Drupal 8 is released, it will be the current version and Drupal 7 will be the most recent last version. Releases occur about every three years and, although it isn’t set in stone when Drupal 8 will be out of the beta stage, since the requirement is that there should be zero critical bugs found, the consensus is this should happen around Spring 2015.
2. Is your Drupal site responsive? If not, you are losing money.
It probably should be no surprise that your audience is using more than just their laptop/desktop computer to access your website. The Pew Research Center found that, in 2013, 63% of adults use their cell phones to go online and 34% use their cell phone most of the time to go online. If your audience searches for your products and services on their cell phones only to find broken images, missing functionality and generally content that is difficult to read, they will not hang around hoping the website suddenly corrects itself. Instead, you should consider them lost revenue and watch as they click away from your website and land on your competitor’s website. Drupal 7 has more “responsive first” templates by far than Drupal 6. This means that you can build your site with mobile in mind and have a website that looks and functions well on both a PC and a mobile device. If you could capture even 5% of that 34% of people who use their cell phones most of time to find your products and services, wouldn’t an upgrade pay for itself and then some?
3. Has it been 3 or more years since you’ve upgraded and designed your Drupal site?
If the answer is yes, it isn’t just a more modern look that you are missing out on – it is more functionality. Your main reason for redesigning your website shouldn’t be that it isn’t hip enough. Remember, this isn’t your father’s aging wardrobe – this is your business. Your website doesn’t need to be fashionable – it needs to be effective. Drupal 7 is much better aligned than Drupal 6 to work with the newest technology including HMTL5 and CSS3 which all go in to providing a modern web experience for users. Since the Drupal version release cycle is generally every three years, it is a great idea to get in the habit of revamping your website using the same timeline.
4. Better functionality is available through Drupal 7 then was ever dreamt for Drupal 6.
There are a host of new features available in Drupal 7, either as part of its "core" or through broadly supported modules, all designed to make Drupal a more powerful tool for marketing your business. These includes:
- more user-friendly "WYSIWYG" editors to manage your content,
- bulk uploads for images and files,
- more powerful Views pages (those pages that give you the ability to search, filter and sort information instead of just have a long, boring page of text),
- much more dynamic workflow, allowing you a range of permissions to add customized content for the specific audiences you want to reach,
- more secure login and password portals.
5. Have your competitors’ changed their websites recently?
If yes, then they are probably getting noticed before you. The internet is a dynamic landscape, with new trends and functionality becoming commonplace overnight. So when it comes to your online presence, it makes sense to regularly ask yourself: are your competitors answering your customers’ needs better than you are? Drupal 7 gives you more ways to answer those needs to win new customers and turn them in to repeat visitors.
Most importantly, you can’t answer anyone’s need if they can’t find you. Drupal 7 is better equipped to deliver a website that search engines can easily find and understand. Here’s your opportunity to revamp and reimagine how you deliver your products and services to your customers – and be one of the top search results to beat out your competitors.
Why not just go straight to 8?
So why shouldn't you jump directly to Drupal 8 and just skip Drupal 7 altogether? Drupal 8 is still recording several critical bugs, which is why it is not out of beta yet. You could make the leap from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 but why take the chance on a version that hasn't been used and tested thoroughly in the real world when you don't have to? The improvements in functionality and the level of technology you need to present a flexible, user-friendly website to your audience is available in the much loved, much understood Drupal 7 world. Additionally, many of the add-on modules that we rely on to extend Drupal haven't been built yet, let alone tested, so it'll be a while before 8 can be taken in as many directions as 7. So, unless you need a very specific functionality that is only available with some advancement achieved with Drupal 8, or just want to be on the bleeding edge, we'd recommend just letting the bug-hunters in the Drupal Community work on hardening 8 while you enjoy your new, very effective Drupal 7 website.