In a post for Core77 entitled “Beyond the Scholock of the New: Eight Strategies for Design and Foresight” Kevin McCullagh writes:
“The future is always a mix of revolutionary change and evolutionary continuity–and sometimes regressions are in there too. Unlike the Star Trek view of the consistent future, many of today’s trend-setters enjoy gaming on iPhones and organic gardening.”
Kevin McCullagh, Plan
This is true of the technology we use every day to serve our clients. We have clients that are still running versions of our NewfangledCMS from over 4 years ago, yet have made upgrades to their site to reflect current trends (i.e. updated interfaces, advertising tools, blogs, etc.) on an ad hoc basis.
There are two conclusions I can think of in response to this phenomenon. The first one is negative: adding current functionality to an outdated system will only get you so far. In most cases, the reason we don’t upgrade these sites fully to the latest version of our CMS is due to a lack of funding. The quick upgrade is prioritized over the long term stability of the entire system. This is not a great philosophy to have, especially not for your website, which is the most important and powerful communication tool your business has. Sure, you’ll have a blog, but when that next most popular browser comes out and leaves IE 6.0 (the browser that was the new hotness when your site was first built) in the dust, it might look at your site and spit it out backward for all we know. That’s the trouble with browsers- developers can’t always anticipate how Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, or Google will engineer their software, so what works on today’s browsers may not on versions that have yet to be released. The blog won’t help much when a user can’t even see the website properly.
But, the second conclusion is the positive spin on this. The disaster scenario I described just now doesn’t happen much. This is because our CMS was created by people who think long term and made it a goal to build a system that would last. Mike Boulet, our CTO, is the kind of guy who uses his laptop to plan out his do-it-yourself passive solar mods to his house, or his springtime planting of many tomato plants next to his backyard chicken coop. He’s got his feet firmly planted in the realistic future that McCullagh describes above. So, even though we’ve worked our way to version 5.0 of our CMS, sites still running much older versions are being kept alive and well with the occasional check in and tune up. While it works, I think that’s pretty great.