Short answer? It pays to upgrade often.
Long answer…let’s dive into why it’s important to upgrade ExpressionEngine (EE).
But first, story time!
I have a client that had an EE1 site that was built somewhere around 2005 – those early days of EE. In internet, this website is a senior citizen. But it was chugging along just fine until the Fall of 2020 (what a year!) when their hosting company said the could no longer support a version of software (PHP) that EE1 needed to run.
So one day their site stopped working.
Frantic emails and calls later, I informed them of the hosting situation and after searching through their emails, they found multiple notifications from their hosting provider warning them of this change. They just didn’t know it would effect their site.
Thankfully, I managed to get their site back online temporarily while we made a plan to upgrade. But it was really temporary. We had about two weeks before it would die again.
We put together a plan to get them to EE2. This was the biggest hurdle and with a site that old with thousands of pages of content, it was going to be a big job. When EE2 came out, a little (big) thing happened where the entire piece of software was rewritten and a ton of add-ons were not converted to work with EE2. Add on to that, it’s not 10+ years since EE2 came out, so some of those converted add-ons were no longer available online anymore because the developers had moved on (thankfully I’m a bit of a digital hoarder and have a lot of old stuff stashed away on multiple external drives).
Long story short, there was a happy ending in that we were able to upgrade and their site is working great. Howeverif they had upgraded when EE2 came out, they would have saved a lot of money and a lot of stress and a lot of downtime. I’ll be telling this story to other clients for years to come.
So let’s dive into why you should upgrade, now!
Top 5 Reasons to Upgrade to ExpressionEngine 6
That which we ignore is not optimal. And that goes for our websites.
An upgraded version of EE will give your site much better performance in the latest browsers. Chances are some of your templates will need to be updated to reflect either the removal of addons or resource-intensive code that has been replaced with core functionality. Both of which will increase the performance of your site.
And let’s not forget that Google loves a speedy site, so better performance can help you rank better as well.
Using any old or outdated software poses risks to the security of the site. Especially software that is completely retired and not receiving any updates (security included and a biggie).
And security threats are not going away anytime soon and as they become more sophisticated, it leaves your site open to vulnerabilities.
On top of that, users (and google) are demanding a more secure web experience and the last thing you want is for your site to flagged as dangerous in search and/or have one of your users (or multiple) experience any sort of breach of their information (especially if you’re running a site with members or e-commerce).
Updated control panel
Some of the really old versions of EE were clunky. I still loved it but it wasn’t what we are now used to seeing on the web. The latest version (EE6) is completely redesigned and streamlined.
If you are on EE2 or EE1 (and I know some of you who are), as of EE3 the control panel is responsive, making editing on mobile so much easier. And we see an even bigger improvement in EE6.
Also as of EE4, there are a number of features that were only available previouly with add-ons and now they are part of the core system (hello split-screen preview, I’m looking at you!).
Go from EE2 to EE6
Previously, when upgrading ExpressionEngine, your site had to upgrade to each individual version.
That meant EE1 -> EE2 -> EE3 -> EE4 and so on. Now, if your site is on EE2 (or higher) you can skip ahead and go right to EE6!
Now, this might not seem like a big deal to you but for us, that means it will take much less time to upgrade sites and therefore we don’t have to charge nearly as much money or spend as much time doing upgrades. This means we can take on more of them and deliver them in less time, which is the kind of work I love to do.
GDPR privacy & consent made easy
If you don’t know what GDPR is, you can read more about it here.
Briefly, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is legislation that updated and unified data privacy laws across the European Union (EU) in 2018. The law protects Europeans with regards to the processing of their personal data, as well as laying down the rules relating to the free movement of personal data.
AND, even if your website is based in the US, it still matters.
Plus, it’s likely the US may implement something similar in the future.
Starting with EE5, built into the core of EE are consent and privacy tools that make implementing cookie consent, and GDPR compliance much easier. There’s an audit log to show consents that have been granted or withdrawn, as well as cookie management for those pesky cookie popups you see on almost every site now.
Cookie consents and GDPR arent going anywhere, so the sooner your site is in compliance the better and now EE makes that process much smoother.
When should you schedule that upgrade?
My recommendation would be sooner rather than later, especially if your site is still running EE1 or EE2 (and no shame for that here, we get it and we work with a lot of clients who are still using those versions).
At the end of the day, getting your site upgraded will save you money and stress. Like the story I started with, don’t wait. Save yourself the pain and loss of revenue by having a site that stops working one day because of a server update.