Re-imagine Website Work: New Functionality Pushes Innovation, Preserves Brand Integrity, and Streamlines Website Maintenance

We’ve been working with our customers to understand their goals and challenges. This quarter’s releases offer a collection of new features and functionality in a best-in-class SaaS platform to help make WebOps teams productive! Dive in to see what’s new from Pantheon. 

The last year has shown us the untapped potential of the open web, and exactly what's possible when SaaS web solutions are positioned as the main fulcrum of digital strategies. At Pantheon, we are building a cloud-based software platform that helps transform customer websites into revenue-driving assets through which other channels, tools, and experiences flow. Our Sept. 21, 2021 product announcement stays true to this vision, offering a better way for web teams to streamline operations and drive unprecedented results.

Framed by the real-world problems they solve for our customers, we’ll break down in this post why we’ve updated our platform with the following features:

  • Pantheon Autopilot streamlines maintenance, security, and testing of Drupal and WordPress sites

  • Drupal 9 on Pantheon allows development and marketing teams to continuously innovate with a more modern approach to web development and content updates

  • Global CDN, now with Experience Protection, delivers seamless digital experiences to website visitors by serving cached static content during an outage 

  • New Dashboard includes the introduction of Workspaces geared toward helping WebOps teams develop, learn, upgrade, and collaborate in one place and accelerate engaging user experiences, faster 

For all the details of what we’ve launched, in terms of new features and functionality brought to the Pantheon SaaS platform, check out our What’s New page.

Problem: Outdated WordPress and Drupal Sites Attract Hackers and Maintenance is a Time-consuming Process

Websites running outdated core versions of WordPress and Drupal, as well as older plugins and themes (for WordPress users), present a significant security risk for any organization relying on their website for business purposes, as well as those storing sensitive information online. 

A WordPress security report by KeyCDN estimated that for those sites running WordPress, 52% of vulnerabilities targeted plugins, 37% were centered around WordPress core, and the remaining 11% were associated with themes. 

To keep websites up to date as fast as possible, some teams automate code updates directly to their live environments. That option ensures that security fixes get applied immediately but it introduces the risk that updates break functionality unexpectedly. And even allowing a site to self-update requires permissive server configurations that can open up other avenues for attack. 

Teams can feel stuck between performing risky auto-updates without testing directly to the  live environment or time-consuming work to check every update in a pre-production environment. This kind of maintenance work can range from 5 to 10 hours per month all the way up to 50 hours per month for larger businesses, such as digital agencies, running a number of complex websites. 

Solution: Let Software Automation Handle the Task of Ongoing Website Maintenance and Security with Autopilot

Autopilot puts your content management system (CMS) updates on cruise control, thanks to it automatically detecting, performing, testing, then deploying updates for both WordPress and Drupal CMSs.

Not only does this free up your web team’s valuable time to focus on innovating and driving results with your website, but it ensures your websites are up to date with the latest core versions of WordPress and Drupal, along with the latest plugins and themes for WordPress users. Ultimately, this means your website won’t be as prone to underlying vulnerabilities and exploits used by hackers to breach sensitive information and take down your site. 

Because employing new updates can often lead to broken functionality, Autopilot employs visual regression testing (VRT) to ensure nothing breaks. VRT scans the original webpages in comparison to the freshly updated ones, to make sure everything is fully functional. Really, VRT frees your team from the arduous task of searching for broken links, then restoring previous functionality after an update changes your site in an unanticipated fashion. 

Autopilot’s visual regression testing (VRT) at work.

When software automation does the work, the people on the web team are free to do what is most impactful — whether that’s dreaming up new features or making continuous improvements that enhance the user experience (UX) and journey, as it best suits your goals. 

You can learn more about Autopilot in this webinar, where Pantheon product manager Nathan Tyler and Senior Product Designer Dorna Mehrkish sit down with Alex Vasquez, co-founder of digital agency DigiSavvy, to talk about Autopilot streamlining your website maintenance, along with talking a unique look at Autopilot from an agency/customer perspective. 

Problem: Web Teams Have Pressure to Deliver Faster, Without Compromising Security or Reliability 

By 2024, 75% of enterprises will prioritize infrastructure agility and operational efficiency, according to an IDC report on SaaS WebOps solutions. In short, this means enterprises value moving quickly and efficiently in making changes to their websites and evolving their web experience over time — all without sacrificing their site security or reliability. 

Solution: Drupal 9 on Pantheon Unlocks Continuous Innovation with a More Modern Approach to Web Development + Easier Upgrade Paths 

With Drupal and Pantheon, web teams can unlock continuous innovation from their websites — with a more modern approach to web development and easier upgrade paths in the future.

Pantheon first grew from the Drupal community, and we’ve been dedicated to finding a better way to host, develop, and optimize Drupal-based websites since our inception. Experience full benefits of Drupal 9 with the fastest performance in the industry, powerful web development tools, and enterprise-grade security of Pantheon.

Because Drupal 9 is designed to offer a smooth, predictable upgrade path moving forward, without the often arduous migration process inherent to earlier versions, you can focus on what matters most to your business objectives and website goals — without the massive undertaking and time investment of conducting a major website relaunch. This is a tremendous leap forward for Drupal, and it really allows you to focus on pushing continuous improvement and innovation from your website. 

Find more about our continued commitment to Drupal and support timelines for earlier versions of Drupal (D7, D8) in this blog post, and watch this webinar if you’d like to learn more about how Drupal 9 meets evolving business needs and spares your team from a major relaunch. 

Problem: Website Downtime Damages Brand Reputation and Poor Front-end Performance Pushes Away Site Visitors

Not only is downtime a major loss of revenue for companies , but the damage to their brand reputation is significant and sometimes irreparable — seeing word of mouth from frustrated site visitors ripples to potential customers down the line, often in the form of poor ratings on popular social platforms and review sites.

Echoing this sentiment, Kissmetrics found that 40% of website visitors abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load, meaning your site better work properly if you want to impart a good impression on target customers, both newcomers and return customers. 

Solution: Global CDN Ensures Lightning-fast Page Loads, Now with Experience Protection for a Seamless Visitor Experience During an Outage

Pantheon’s Global CDN has over 70 points of presence across six continents, enabling sub-second page loads for site visitors across the world.

Pantheon’s Global CDN is a core software platform feature for all of our sites, consisting of a content delivery network (CDN) with over 70 points of presence — to expedite sub-second page loads for site visitors scattered across the globe. We’ve measured performance gains after clients moved their sites to Pantheon and found most shave at least a second of page load times, thanks to Global CDN. 

Performance gains from a customer who moved their site to Pantheon, thanks to Global CDN. 

Often, this performance is the difference between a potential customer bouncing or sticking around to see what you have to offer on your site, from e-commerce offerings to SaaS offerings. 

However, during the unfortunate event of an outage, your downed site erodes brand reputation, especially for first time visitors. That’s where our newly released Experience Protection comes into play — to continue to engage your site visitors even in the event of an outage behind the CDN. 

This functionality works by adjusting a CDN edge configuration to serve content cached at the edge layer when the edge layer does not get a response from WordPress or Drupal. Simply put, Experience Protection makes it less likely for your visitors to notice anything wrong during those infrequent, but inevitable moments when your CMS is down because of a problem in the datacenter, a deployment of bad PHP code, or even the intentional usage of Maintenance Mode. Ultimately, this brings added credibility to your website and helps to preserve your brand image, especially during CMS outages that would otherwise cause a visitor to immediately bounce. 

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Topics Drupal, Growth & Scale, Security