Here at E Source, we recently overhauled our website and some of the infrastructure behind it. We’ve implemented a more secure web protocol; modernized our layout and made it responsive; and added advanced strategies to help our site load more quickly and securely. With this rebuild fresh in my mind, I’d like to point out some of the reasons it’s important for company websites to keep up with changes in technology.
Older Systems Can Have Security Issues
Older software products often have security holes. It makes sense, if you think about it—the longer a piece of software is around, the more time people can put into trying to find a way to circumvent security measures. Any system capable of connecting to the Internet—which is most things in the digital era—is vulnerable to attacks from the outside. Additional issues may arise from using exceptionally old software because it may no longer be supported by its creator. For example, according to Microsoft’s Windows lifecycle fact sheet, the company no longer supports Windows XP, but many businesses are still using it, which leaves them open to security breaches that are no longer being closed.
And it’s not just your desktop systems that can benefit from regular review—if your company hosts its own websites, networks, or other systems, the server configurations should be updated regularly as well. If your company uses an outside hosting provider, make sure that their software is up-to-date and free from known issues as well. Companies that deal with sensitive information need to be particularly aware of the security implications of system upgrades, so that they’re protecting customer data as well as their own. Failure to safeguard customers’ data can get a company mentioned on the news, and not in a good way.
Software Updates Can Make Things Better
Technology evolves, gaining more functionality as time goes on and developers build on the work of their predecessors. Some of these changes are easy to recognize, like faster processes and more-intuitive interfaces. Other things may not be obvious—such as additional security or improved use of system resources—but they can definitely make upgrading worthwhile. Software updates often include bug fixes and improvements that can go a long way toward making an application more effective and easier to use.
Updating the software that runs your company’s website can also provide a lot of benefits. Programming languages evolve over time, just like software, and website frameworks such as Drupal, Ruby on Rails, and WordPress offer periodic updates. Some of these updates offer new features but can be a lot of work to implement and others are minor updates that will take less effort, so it’s important to fully evaluate any change before making the decision to upgrade.
Your Browser May be Holding You Back
One application that may be an easy target for updating is your browser. The Internet has come a long way in a very short amount of time, but not all web browsers have done an equal job of keeping up with the pace of web improvement. Older browsers may not be able to display certain aspects of a web page correctly, or may not be able to execute certain features or actions.
If you’re using Internet Explorer (IE) 8 or IE9, for example, you’re missing out on features that are standard in more current browsers. Some features that aren’t supported in older browsers are purely aesthetic, but others may actually stop a webpage from functioning. Having a modern, up-to-date browser is the best way to ensure that you are able to see and interact with websites. Even better—it’s usually quick, easy, and free to update or get a new browser.
Web developers have historically poured a lot of resources into trying to force older browsers to implement features they weren’t designed to deal with. With the advent of automatic browser updates (another feature not supported by IE8 or IE9), many development teams—including E Source’s—have made the decision to stop supporting browsers that are too old to handle most current web standards. In fact, if your company is still supporting outdated browsers, your development team could be wasting a lot of time, and dropping support for these browsers would allow your developers to focus on creating modern web experiences that work across more devices. You can check out browser support for various web standards with this browser comparison tool.
E Source currently supports Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE version 9 and up. If your company decides to drop support for older browsers, make sure to let your customers know, and encourage them to update to newer browsers so that they can enjoy your website as it was meant to be.
Of course, we’re not encouraging you to go out and grab every single update and new piece of software that comes along. New software can have its own issues, and every aspect of a new version should be evaluated to see if it will do the best job of providing the required functionality or if it will have a detrimental effect on some other piece of software you’re using. And certainly other factors, such as budget, can have an impact on decisions about what can be upgraded or updated.
If you think your company has some areas that could use upgrading, we encourage you to discuss your concerns with your IT department. Staying on the bleeding edge of technology isn’t an option for a lot of companies, but it’s always healthy to take a look at systems that can benefit from a move toward the future.