Outsmarting the Lifecycle of Outdated Websites With toujou
Thanks to Luana from DFAU for sharing!
Back in January, we had the opportunity to write about our concept for a TYPO3 website builder that became “toujou” (read blog post here). In case you are hearing about this for the first time: toujou’s mission is to open up TYPO3 solutions to clients on a budget and prevent websites from becoming a security risk. The premise for our product concept was to reduce individual development to a minimum in order to serve a maximum of customer needs.
In toujou, every bugfix, every update and any further development is made universally, but deployed individually. Two years and more than one hundred websites later, we are proud of the steps our own TYPO3 website builder has taken. Also, we thank our “pioneer” customers who have placed their trust in us from the beginning.
On May 2nd, all toujou websites were updated from version 8 LTS onto TYPO3 v9. This is an included service and we consider it a solid proof of concept: toujou made good on the promise of keeping all website installations within the highest standards.
toujou first came out with TYPO3 v8. Thus, the update marks a milestone in toujou’s history as being the first version change of the system. During the six months since the release of v9 LTS, the toujou update has been silently prepared in the background. Looking back, we want to share our learning experience.
“Bugs and delays aside, we can state at the end of the day that the update went as planned”, explains Peter Piechota, head developer for toujou at DFAU. However: “We did not have much fun. We wanted to upgrade from LTS to LTS. But in doing so, the adaptation work accumulated and had to be processed as a block. As a result, the development of toujou continued in parallel, but was impeded at the same time.”
Lead by CTO Thomas Maroschik, the toujou team decided to go a different way in view of the upcoming v10 update: “We do not want to wait for the LTS release, but instead update toujou after each pre-LTS release”, Tom says. “toujou customers will gradually be taken along, so that the necessary steps are smaller and new features find their way directly into toujou.” That way, the service as well as the customers profit from new features and developments almost from the start.
Another major change within toujou concerns the users. There are three client types toujou was designed for: First, a variety of tourism agencies, as this sector has historically been a field of expertise at DFAU. Second, the end customer, either self-employed or of SME size with an editorial/content staff. Third, web design and TYPO3 agencies that use toujou as a tool for their respective clients.
Since we brought toujou to the community’s attention, our clientele has further taken shape: Clients with existing but outdated TYPO3 websites. The driving force in this was fellow community member Jochen Weiland. “From the standpoint of a provider, Jochen is looking at thousands of hosted websites that probably can’t be supported at the end of 2019 for running PHP 5.6 or older”, explains Daniel Fau, CEO at DFAU.
The idea is to have these clients make one final relaunch with the toujou service. That way, new LTS releases and update necessities are no longer the clients concerns. Plus, we can keep users within the TYPO3 eco system.
As the graphic above shows, most TYPO3 websites are outdated or close to their end-of-life cycle because support for v6 is running out. There are multiple reasons for this:
Clients hesitate too long to invest into TYPO3 updates,
running a website does not rank highly within the company’s strategy,
the budget is too low to do any solid update right.
“Teaming up with jweiland.net, we started holding local B2C meetings with affected TYPO3 users”, Daniel recounts the first meet-ups in April. “Business owners were briefed about the possibilities toujou offers, and of course other alternatives to stay online with their websites.” As toujou includes LTS version updates within the service, worrying about this aspect of a website would be no longer an issue.
In this process, the incubation period has been longer than expected. “While the need for a solution is very apparent, end customers and editors want to be taken on board. The human worries in decision making remain unpredictable”, says Daniel, with almost twenty years of experience behind him in dealing with end customers. “We still have to inform and educate about the rising pressure to keep websites in line with GDPR guidelines. Plus, it won’t get better with laws like the German IT Security Act, called ‘IT-Sicherheitsgesetz’”(read more in this blog post).
However, the cooperation with jweiland.net is bearing initial fruit: The problem has been made aware of and the first prospective customers are currently working on a website relaunch with toujou. On top of that, “we are in the talks with other hosting partners to submit toujou to a similar clientele”, says Daniel.
To illustrate the need for a customer-friendly solution, along with a blog post on the topic, Jochen published a small test on jweiland.net. The test consists of seven questions and if three or more of these questions are answered with ‘yes’ any reader should know that something has to be done about their website. We highly recommend you to take it yourself and/or on behalf of your clients:
1. Is your current website based on TYPO3 version 4.5 or older?
2. Have you been planning a new website for some time and have you not had the time to implement it yet?
3. Are visitors unable to use your website because it is not responsive?
4. Has your site's visibility on Google recently dropped?
5. Do you receive fewer inquiries through your website?
6. Do you consider a new website to be too expensive?
7. Do you only want to take care of the content and not the technology?
We have sharpened our profile by discovering a client potential, which may not have received enough attention so far. From an agency perspective, we want to give colleagues the impetus to activate this customer group and to discover problem solving (aka time bomb defusing) as a veritable business potential. Even if it is only so your customers do not become a security risk for you.
One thing is clear: Remaining on the verge of going offline due to security issues certainly can not be a viable option. toujou might be the right solution for you and your customers! Since the technical part has shown not to be an issue, here’s some human incentive: Try toujou for free and make an educated decision for yourself. In any case, do not delay your update until that bomb is about to burst.