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Drupal 9 Migration Challenges (Opportunities) Marketers need to be aware of

Drupal’s evolution as an enterprise content management system has been nothing sort of phenomenal in the last 20 years. With every new major version release, significant improvements came along and marketers reaped the benefits of building their MarTech stack around Drupal. Drupal 8 and 9 versions have taken the CMS to an altogether-new league with exciting features like improved page building/management with layout builder, enhanced content authoring experience, API-first architecture that allows for seamless exposure of entities, user-friendly media management features, backward compatibility, built-in performance enhancements and much more.

One perennial challenge that Drupal community has been intending to solve is how make to the migration process simpler and less effort intensive for Drupal users/marketers. To a great extent, this has been resolved in Drupal 8/9, as between those versions there is no significant architecture differences. Drupal 9 is a much more cleaned up/optimized version of Drupal 8. Hence, migrating from Drupal 8 to 9 is going to be lot easier compared to migrations from previous versions. Drupal community promises to keep this backward compatibility possible for future Drupal versions as well. Only time will tell if the promised migration simplicity continues and about the possible challenges the digital changes may impose on Drupal as a whole.

But what if you are not on Drupal 8 or 9 yet. Many Drupal websites are still in Drupal 7 or worse 6 which means you cannot take advantage of the backward compatibility that comes with Drupal 8 or 9 yet. So, as a marketer, you will end up facing the typical migration challenges that will need proper planning, guidance and support. In this article, we try to capture, in a marketer-friendly way, the key challenges that marketers need to focus during Drupal migrations and how you should approach the same. In many ways, these challenges open up opportunities for marketers to make their Drupal website much better than what it is today!

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Let us dive right in.

Typical Drupal Migration Challenges that Marketers need to focus

When we talk about Drupal migration, there are various aspects to keep in mind in addition to moving the CMS to the latest version of Drupal. Here we talk about all the key aspects that marketers need to be aware of.

Eliminating Redundancy in Content Migration

One key concern for marketers is when we migrate, they should not lose out on all the good work that they have done on the content side for the website. While this is important, marketers also need to understand this is their chance to remove any redundancies that may have creeped in to their websites. Many a times, we have seen marketers inclined to moving everything they have on their current website to the latest version only to carry on with their legacy content issues. When it comes to any Drupal migration, it is very crucial that marketers work with the Drupal experts and identify content redundancies – unused content types, taxonomies, contents, relationships, orphaned data – and remove them in the process of migration. Let the good work carry over but the unnecessary be pruned off!

Ensuring Continuity in SEO Migration

SEO is another key aspect of any Drupal migration. Marketers would have spent significant efforts in planning their SEO strategies and implementing them. We all know that SEO is an ongoing journey and the website plays a key role in achieving the SEO objectives. As part of migration, all the hard-done SEO efforts need to be carried over. For instance, SEO-friendly URLs, meta descriptions, ALT text, keywords, header tags, optimized contents all needs to be carried over to the new Drupal version. If there is a need to optimize any of these parameters as part of the migration that needs to be carefully planned in such a way that it does not negatively impact SEO. For instance, if you are considering renaming some of your tried and test SEO-friendly URLs, you need to have a solid 301-redirect strategy in place to ensure all the old URLs redirect to these new ones. Thorough testing and review should happen before we launch the new website with updated SEO parameters so we do not restart our SEO journey from scratch in the new Drupal version instead continue from where we left off.

Enhancing Performance

Marketers need to understand the importance of website performance in their digital marketing endeavours. You could have a beautiful user experience, powerful contents, carefully-planned onsite SEO parameters but if your performance does not meet up the desired requirements of search engines you will lose out on everything. While Drupal (8 and 9) by itself come with performance-optimized core with features like bigpipe, caching, aggregation mechanisms, it is important that marketers focus on how their website is built. Drupal 9 migration is an opportunity to rearchitect/rebuild your Drupal 7 website into a performance-focused website thus meeting all the essential performance metrics like Google Page Speed or GT Metrix or web page test etc. Our goal is not to blindly meet these scores but carefully consider what makes sense to the organization’s business and re-architect our Drupal 7 website in Drupal 9 accordingly.

Rejigging User Experience

While typically marketers see migration as the necessary burden to get to the latest version of Drupal, they do not consider revamping their user experience unless they absolutely want to. They also factor in the UX revamp cost in addition to the migration cost they may end up incurring. However, since Drupal 7 and Drupal 9 are significantly different in architecture, even if you retain the same user experience, there will not be significant cost advantage as in Drupal 9 the entire theme has to be rebuilt, whether it is the same design or an entirely new one. What this means is, marketers have the opportunity to rejig their user experience as part of the migration. It can be a simple refresh to their existing design or a whole new experience depending on their business needs. You can take a custom UX approach or an out-of-the-box theme-based approach. The opportunity is there to rejig your UX as part of the migration.

Overhauling Architecture

As we mentioned earlier, between Drupal 7 and Drupal 9 there is a huge architecture difference at the core level. What this means is almost all aspects of your Drupal website has to be rebuilt in Drupal 9. This, again, provides marketers with the opportunity to overhaul their architecture – content type, taxonomy, information architecture, forms, entity relationships etc. – to suit the evolving needs of the business. Marketers need to plan to remove redundancies, eliminate legacy architecture issues like unnecessary/unused contributed modules, custom modules, building blocks (views, blocks, components), integrations, forms etc. from the system to ensure we have clean, high performing Drupal 9 website at the end of the migration.

Overall, while Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 could be a daunting effort depending on the complexity of your website, it presents marketers with more opportunities than ever to further enhance their website’s overall experience and we want you to jump on this bandwagon and ride the journey as soon as you possible can so you reap the benefits that Drupal 9 brings to your table.

If you are looking to learn more or understand how we can partner with you in this Drupal 9 migration journey, please feel free to reach us at info@workiy.com or +1 (778) 798-0252. We are excited and looking forward to working with you!

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