How familiar is this story? You’re entering 2020, putting the finishing touches on your strategies and a marketing plan for the upcoming year. Ready to hit the ground running on new initiatives, with a direction in mind for your website.
Life is good. The future feels secure.
Now insert one of the biggest curveballs and plan-wreckers of our lifetime...Covid-19, worldwide quarantines, and torrential economic insecurities.
But one plan didn’t change or get cancelled: Drupal 9 was still on schedule for its release on June 3, 2020.
Whether you’re currently using Drupal for your site and forecasting an upgrade, or if you’re on a different content management system (CMS) and considering Drupal as a new contender, it’s not surprising to feel some trepidation about embarking on any major changes in the near-term.
So let’s talk through what the future of Drupal will hold (Is there even a future?), what your options are if you need to upgrade to Drupal 9 (Or are there ways to stave that off?), and how you can continue to invest in your site even when there’s too much uncertainty to make a plan (Are there alternatives to a full replatform?).
Is it still safe to place your bets on Drupal 9?
In a time of uncertainty, flux, and rapid change, it’s only natural to feel wary about investing resources in an upgrade or completely new platform like Drupal 9, especially if the future of that platform might now be uncertain. What if you put the fate of your website in the hands of the wrong CMS, only to have it be no longer supported?
Luckily, the future of Drupal still seems very bright. Not only was the upgrade released right on schedule despite current circumstances, Drupal also has the most extensive and well prepared future roadmap in its history.
Drupal 9 was built in a way to make future upgrades much simpler and pain-free, which is great news for your budget if you decide to move to Drupal, or if you’re already using it and need to upgrade. Once your website is on the D9 track, you will be able to truly reap the benefits of open source into the future, specifically by taking advantage of new feature releases and updates along the Drupal roadmap.
According to Drupal.org, one way to imagine this is thinking of your website like a train. Upgrading major versions used to mean moving the train to a different track entirely. Starting with Drupal 9, new major versions will be stations on the same exact track. Resulting in easier future updates.
The fact that Drupal is an open source platform also puts the odds in your favor if the economy turns. Because open source software are free and driven by community efforts, they tend to fare very well during recessions.
Moving to D9: Should you wait and see how everything pans out?
Now that we’ve covered the stability of Drupal’s future, and that it does in fact have one, you might still have some uncertainty about the future of your own company. Will there be budget cuts, limited resources, or financial instability in the coming months?
Here are some pros and cons to pursuing Drupal 9 during this pandemic, as well as some alternatives if the risk feels too high.
If you’re currently on Drupal 7 or 8
As a reminder, Drupal 7 and 8 will both reach end-of-life in November 2021. It’s highly recommended you upgrade to Drupal 9 before then. Not upgrading can open the door to security lapses and the inability to take advantage of new, upcoming functionality.
Still wanting to hold off on an upgrade? Drupal 7 will still have long term security support that will be provided by a group of approved third party vendors at a cost. Drupal 8, however, will not have this same long term support. The jump to D8 to D9 will be so seamless by design and painless (as long as you’ve been keeping up with routine updates to Drupal 8), that there really is no reason not to proceed with the upgrade. It’ll feel much more like an improved extension of Drupal 8.
If you’re not on Drupal yet, but are considering it for your CMS
Drupal is incredibly flexible, customizable, secure, and makes it easy to edit content and stick within design standards -- it’s no surprise you’re considering it for your site! It’s also been the platform trusted by enterprise-level organizations and some of the world’s leading brands like LUSH, GE Energy Management, and YMCA.
Though it comes packed with a lot of great benefits, Drupal might not necessarily be the right option for your site. Feel free to contact us at FFW if you need help finding the right CMS. We can help you navigate the best option for your unique landscape during a free, no-pressure conversation, so you can learn the pros and cons of each platform. Whether it’s Drupal, Sitecore, Wordpress, or others.
Not able to justify a full replatform anytime soon? That doesn’t mean your website has to take a backseat. And in a time when it’s been made clear how vital a digital presence is, it really shouldn’t. Continuous Development offers an alternative to a replatform, and is more of a gradual process rather than an intensive investment of resources. One way to think of it is comparing continuously tidying up your house or doing a vigorous cleaning every couple years.
Is Drupal 9 your future?
We’re at the epicenter of immense change and uncertainty. Times like these can be the hardest to navigate where to focus investing your most important resources. At FFW, we’re here to help you navigate the chaos that comes with providing a digital experience, and move in the right direction. We’re actively helping organizations learn the landscape and factors of this influential part of their business. Now is the perfect time to reach out and schedule a brief conversation with our Drupal expert team.