“Do I really need Drupal support and maintenance services for my website?”
If this is the question that you have, you probably think that your quest for a public-facing and a customer-attracting tool ends with the development and deployment. Is content updating enough to stay current and relevant? How important is it really to have a support and maintenance plan for your Drupal website? Let me give you five of the most important reasons why you may want to think about Drupal support services–
1. Continuous Safeguarding
No doubt Drupal is one of the most secure CMS’s today but only if your Drupal website is updated with security upgrades and patches regularly. The Drupal community and the Drupal security team work hard towards building security patches, fixes and upgrades that all add up to building a sustainable ecosystem. These security fixes and upgrades need to be performed immediately to avoid trouble. If you’re still on Drupal 7 (or Drupal 6), migrating to Drupal 8 is crucial to keep your website secure. Drupal 7 support for security will be provided by the community till November 2021. To ensure complete security of your website, you need regular Drupal support and maintenance services.
2. Fixes and repairs
No bug is a small bug. Even the smallest bug/error when ignored, could cost you a customer. Bugs and errors can emerge out of nowhere for multiple reasons. It could be because of a hurried up coding and deployment, insufficient testing, miscommunication, lack of expertise, untrusted third-party tools and more. Some of them are critical and might need immediate attention while some could just lie there unnoticed (which can come to light at wrong times!). Nonetheless, neither of them can be overlooked for a customer focused Drupal website.
From Drupal 8 onwards, upgrades and minor versions are released more frequently to avoid long waiting times for updates and enhanced features. While Drupal 6 has already reached End-of-life (no security fixes/enhancements), Drupal 7 will continue to only receive security support till November 2021. If you still need Drupal 7 support after that, you will need to contact a vendor who provides Long Term support (like the LTS plan for Drupal 6 support). However, if you need to stay updated and leverage Drupal 8’s new and powerful features, it is about time to upgrade to Drupal 8. Staying up-to-date with Drupal’s latest version will allow you to provide your customers with compelling and fresh digital experiences.
4. On top of things
Growing and scaling up your business calls for proactive and future-proof solutions. If you want to gain an edge over your competition, you have to stay on top of things. Things you will need for this? Frequent content updates and enhanced features. Of course, with Drupal, updating content is easy enough and does not need a technical background. Nonetheless, to remain competitive, you have to add new features and enhancements that can improve your user experience and customer journey. User behaviour is never constant, which is why your website needs to stay fresh and align with your user’s needs and business goals.
5. Focus on your business goals
An intelligent businessman had once said, “Focus on what you do really well. Let others help you with what you are not good at.” Making sure that your website needs security updates, fixes, enhancements, updates, etc. needs a lot of time and attention. Businesses are most successful when they focus on what they are best at. Unloading your Drupal support and Drupal maintenance job to a technology partner who is does it day-in and day-out is your best bet.
If your Drupal website is critical to your business, here are a few more reasons you may want to go for professional Drupal support and maintenance: Improve and maintain your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking, Third-party API updates, Drupal core module updates, contributed module updates, scaling your website/application, website performing reporting, Drupal interface improvements, and more.
Now that we have established a few strong reasons on why you need Drupal support and Drupal maintenance services, here are a few things you need to know before you choose a technology partner to help you with it.
- Website Audit – Your Drupal support and maintenance service partners should perform a comprehensive audit of your website. This audit should be able to give you a clear picture of where your website stands in terms of performance, security issues, bugs and SEO status. Your Drupal website’s support and maintenance plan should be based on these factors.
- Levels of Support – Different types of websites will need different levels of support. Some of them include-
- Drupal Security Update Support – Security updates, upgrades and applying patches.
- Drupal Module Upgrades Support – Module upgrading to leverage better features and/or to remain compatible.
- Migration Support – Ensuring smooth transition and uptime during migrations, migration bug fixes, content migration support, database migration support, etc.
- Code Reviews – Reviewing code for structure, quality, logic, performance, testing, design, usability, readability, functionality, etc.
- Performance testing and tuning Support – Check and support for performance on website’s expected workload, response time, speed, robustness and scalability.
- Integration Assistance – Support of existing integrations and during new integrations with third-party applications and APIs.
- Drupal 6 Support – Long Term Support plan (LTS) and Drupal maintenance
- Drupal 7 Support – LTS after Nov 2021, Drupal 7 module support
- Turn-around times – Turnaround and response times for your website depends on the type of an issue/support needed. For emergency issues like a serious bug or a security loophole, the turn-around time should not exceed 24-48 hours. While support for new Drupal features or enhancements or customizations can range from 2 weeks to more depending on the complexity of the task.
- Dedicated VS Shared Support – As the names suggest, with dedicated support you get a Drupal expert/team of Drupal experts who will exclusively support your website(s). You can pay a monthly fee to carry out Drupal support and maintenance tasks continuously and as and when they arise. This ensures that your website is customized and well looked-after both proactively and on-demand. Most support service providers also offer to utilize your unused support hours into the development of a new feature or enhancing exciting features.
You could also opt for shared support where you will be sharing resources with other companies as well. Works best when your website is not very complex does not include customizations and does not require continuous monitoring.
- Update Release Schedule - Drupal 8 is not just a build-up upon Drupal 7. It has been re-architectured to improve adoption among businesses and Drupal developers by adopting more futurist frameworks (Symfony, Twig, PHP 7+, BigPipe caching, etc.). To be able to stay secure and compatible with the other building blocks, Drupal 8 has adopted a continuous innovation model and releases frequent minor version updates (every 6 months). Your Drupal support and maintenance service partners should ensure regular scheduled updates of Drupal’s version releases, bug fixes, and security releases.