Drupal 9 is Coming, Part 3: Upgrading to Drupal 8

This is Part 3 of a three part series about choices you can make with the news of Drupal 9’s release. Part 1 is an overview. Part 2 is what to do if you choose to stay on Drupal 7. Part 3 is what to do it you choose to upgrade to Drupal 8. 

If you’re following along in our series about the release of Drupal 9, you understand that there are options for upgrading, each with its pros and cons. At Kanopi, we know it’s not a one size fits all decision. We want to provide you with as much information as possible to help you decide what’s right for your site.

To recap, we shared an overview of all the options in part one, and a deep dive for our clients who plan to stick with Drupal 7 in part two. Here in part three, we share a bit of wisdom for those who are considering moving to Drupal 8. How do you get stakeholder buy-in to move to Drupal 8?

At Kanopi we support more than 100 Drupal 7 sites. Many of them are well optimized and built to last, which can make it difficult to pull the trigger on a rebuild.  

When we talk to our Drupal 7 clients about migrating to Drupal 8, we typically hear one of three things:

  1. We don’t have the budget.
  2. We don’t have the capacity.
  3. The site looks and works perfectly fine.

Below, I’ll dig a bit deeper into each of these objections.

Budget

An average website lasts 3-5 years. However, many stakeholders aren’t aware that they need to budget for a new site that often, so they are caught off guard when the time comes. There are a few ways to bridge this gap:

Build the business case. A business case compares the challenges of sticking with your current site with the new opportunity and ROI that could be gained by making a change.

To get started, we recommend a site audit and creative strategy session to help identify what’s not working and what might be needed to get back on target. You should also take a look at your organic search performance (SEO), accessibility, speed, and overall usability. All of these factors can reveal where your site may be missing the mark and help to justify an upgrade.

When building your case, make sure that you think through the total cost of ownership for your site so that you can reserve enough budget to get the work done right. For example, if you spent $25,000 on your website in 2013, then made incremental updates over the last five years at $10,000 per year, the cost of your site is $75,000. If you want to preserve all features in your rebuild, you should ask for at least $75,000. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to ask for 25 percent more than the amount it would take to preserve existing features. The redesign process will inevitably generate new ideas and site improvements that will require additional budget to implement. In this example, we would recommend asking for $100,000 and justifying the cost with a breakdown that takes your total cost of ownership into account.

Here’s another example: if you built your Drupal 7 site in house and worked on it for 24 months using a resource who makes $75,000 per year, the site cost your organization $75,000. Knowing this can help you build a rationale that hiring an agency to build your Drupal 8 site at $75-100,000 within six months is a great deal since the work will have similar costs and take far less time to complete.

Demonstrating where and how a new website could show direct ROI can make all the difference when convincing stakeholders to approve the budget for an updated site.

Consider the costs of doing nothing. It’s also helpful to think bigger than the cost of an upgrade and consider the costs of not improving your website. Lost customers, damaged reputation and missed opportunities can be hard to quantify, but should be considered.

For example, if your website’s contact form currently gets completed an average of 10 times a month and 10 percent of those who complete the form convert to a sale, that means each deal is worth $10,000. What if, through a smart redesign and upgrade, you were able to increase form completions to 15 per month and add content and features that support the sales team, resulting in 20 percent sales conversions?

As you can see, there are many ways to frame your case to support budget requests. Use the approach that will work best to help your stakeholders understand the value of your website project and it’s potential to make a meaningful impact on your organization’s bottom line. Once they see the value, the budget will come much more easily.

Capacity

Today’s working world moves at lightning speed. Most of us end up doing far more than what’s included in our job descriptions, and those full plates can make a website rebuild feel impossible to tackle.

If your stakeholders are concerned about your team’s capacity to handle a rebuild, talk to them about approaching the work in smaller phases. Many of our clients tackle rebuilds one phase at a time, often signing on for smaller, more digestible bites that make up a larger endeavor. This can help make the process feel more approachable and easier for stakeholders to wrap their heads around. Try getting started with a bit of user research. Then tackle design. You can continue from there in small steps until the work is complete.  

Alternatively, this is where an agency like Kanopi Studios comes in. Rebuilding your site on Drupal 8 or WordPress is a lot of work, but an experienced agency can take much of that work off your plate by making the process as smooth and straightforward as possible and keeping the project’s momentum at full swing. That keeps your team concentrating on their day to day work while the rebuild happens simultaneously.

The site looks and works fine

The most common objection we hear from our clients is that their stakeholders don’t see a need to change or understand the point of doing things differently through a rebuild.  

Maybe you already have a beautiful website that is driving strong results. If so, that’s wonderful! However, as time goes on, you’ll find you need to mix things up a bit to keep up with the pace of change and stay competitive. Trends shift, customer behavior changes, and Google likes to keep us guessing with their algorithm updates. Change is constant in all things, and even more so online.

Most websites have room for improvement, even if they are doing well. To ensure your site stays current, keeping your CMS up to date should be part of your roadmap. If you’re planning to make any updates this year, consider upgrading to Drupal 8 as part of your solution.

Remember, the safety zone may feel warm and comforting, but it will never give you the insight and growth that exploring the unknown can provide. Who knows what wonderful things could be in your future?

Need help?

We can help you strategize and build your case for an upgrade to Drupal 8, 9, or even WordPress. When in doubt, get in touch! We can work out the best approach together.

Anne Stefanyk

Anne's background is in business development, marketing and technology. She is experienced in managing all facets of a business and has a technical understanding allowing her to interface with engineers. She has years of professional Drupal hands-on experience from basic websites to large Drupal applications with high performance demands, multiple integrations, complicated migrations, and e-commerce including subscription and multi-tenancy.

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