Why you should be upgrading to the latest version of Umbraco

Web ApplicationsWeb Applications
Web Applications | 08.08.17
Written by Andy Brown

If you’re already using Umbraco as your CMS framework, you will already know that it’s a great content management platform for large and small organisations alike.  When you’re concentrating on the day to day of business and letting Umbraco get on with it’s job, its easy to get left behind with the version you have installed. Before too long you could be missing out on some key features that will help you improve conversion and have a flexible and secure platform.

As Umbraco Gold partners, we see lots of sites which are still running old versions like 4 and 6, both of which haven’t been developed actively for several years. Since the last maintenance releases in June 2016 to fix critical issues, there have been 216 new features and major improvements added to version 7.6.4 that is available today. 

Why fix something that isn’t broken? 

In simple terms, having an older version of Umbraco means you are not able to take advantage of the significant improvements that have been made to the platform in line with the changing expectations of the global marketplace. Most of the changes made in Umbraco releases are requested and championed by the community - other organisations like yours who put their trust in the platform to help deliver their business.  Some focus on enhancing security and stability, while others on performance and adding new features, but above all every change made is an improvement to what was in place before.

At Shout, we’ve delivered over 50 sites in Umbraco and launched many large upgrade projects, here are our key reasons for upgrading:

Delivering for mobile

At the end of 2016, worldwide browsing on mobile devices overtook desktop for the first time and has continued to increase ever since. Advertising on mobile unsurprisingly has followed this trend.

If your organisation performs any SEO activities or pays for online advertising, you will realise that reaching the widest audience possible is vital to increasing conversion. Having an older version of Umbraco which doesn’t let you specifically target mobile users will be holding you back.

Responsive content

Grid and component based layouts are akin to the principles of responsive web design (RWD), allowing content to reflow and adapt to suit the screen size, orientation and platform it is being viewed on meaning you can deliver a fully responsive experience. In Umbraco 7, a new grid layout system was introduced to allow content editors to drag and drop components into position in a page layout rather than relying on the linear form based content editing of older versions. 

The back office where content is managed is also now fully responsive too, and removes the need to right click which prevented content editors from making changes on touch devices.

The umbraco grid 

Responsive preview

Umbraco understand that most content editing is performed by desktop users so, to make life much easier they have created responsive preview which allows you to review your site as it would look on different devices and at different orientations before publishing to live. 

This used in conjunction with grid layouts means you can easily understand how your mobile users will be experiencing you site and how your content will adapt.

Better experience for editors

One of the most important features of a content management system is the functionality of the back office of the site where content authoring takes place.In version 7, a completely new back office was introduced that is usable on mobile devices and offers lots of enhancements to content authoring, workflow and user permissions suitable for large teams of content editors working on large multilingual sites. 

Significant performance improvements

Umbraco 4.0 was released in 2008 and the core platform was based on the software development principles of the time. Since then, the code written to create Umbraco has been refined, optimised and improved with each release to make it more efficient. Version 7 is amongst the most comprehensively tested release yet, reviewed by more than 1000 testers and partner organisations to make sure it was performant and stable. 

Also, with Google now using page speed as a ranking factor, response times are more important than ever. New methods for caching content and performance tuning have been introduced, meaning that even complex pages can be served in under a second.

Deployment to the Cloud

The days of hosting and deploying changes to a website in a single location are numbered. To address this Umbraco 7 has been designed to be deployed to the Cloud making it easier to scale sites to suit periods of high load.

Umbraco have also made it much easier to get your changes from one place to another, providing upgrades to the Umbraco Courier deployment tool, which as a Gold Partner offer free of charge to our clients.

Security

If you are not running the latest patched version of Umbraco, your website will have known security vulnerabilities which are ready to be exploited. Umbraco themselves conduct independent security audits every six months, and release patches to address any issues which are found. Since 2012 there have been 10 high priority security bulletins issued by the Umbraco team which will all leave you at risk.

With the latest versions of any software, your chances of being exposed are reduced and it is far easier to patch any new vulnerabilities while platforms are still being fully supported.

It’s much easier to keep on top of things

Unfortunately, the longer you leave upgrading, the longer it is likely to take. Each new release adds new upgrade steps and increases the chances of encountering incompatibility issues.
Prior to version 7, regularly keeping up to date with the latest releases was tricky to say the least. But now Umbraco expect users to stay up to date and provide tools to make upgrading as easy as possible.

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