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I manage about 30 company websites with Joomla 1.5, 2.5, 3.4.

The reason why I did not migrate 1.5 and 2.5 to 3.4 is because the owners didn't want to invest in rebuilding their websites from scratch due to high code customization or unaivailability of the components, etc.

Now on the 21th april Google will strongly downrank all the non mobile friedly website. See for example this article

I know that the website owners will notice a loss on the page views and anyway I want to be correct and inform them about that.

I also know that it will be a nightmare to make 1.5 and 2.5 version responsive also considering the components like ecommerce or flash flipping books.

Being a freelance and working alone, I feel I'll not be able to change all the sites for the 21th april, and I really don't have a strategy.

What do you think will be the best practice to face that change? Should I ignore Google and carry on or start developing responsive templates even if I don't know if I will succeed? (Think about a Joomla 1.5 website with Virtuemart ecommerce and many other obsolete components that are NOT responsive ready).

The main problem is that site owners never want to invest on their sites, they want to spend less possible and they never seem to understand the effort that takes even if I try to explain at best that I can.

I already know since now that the proposal to invest in rebuilding the website to a new modern performing version will be unacceptable to some client.

Thanks for any suggestion.

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Owners may not want to invest in their sites, but they also don't want to lose business even more.

If you make your proposal in terms of "do this to prevent lost revenue from bad search ranking" some of them will sign on right away. Others will come around after they've seen their business drop off and they try to get it back.

Going forward, having a responsive template you can implement for your clients will be really useful, so it's probably not a bad idea to go ahead and develop it. If not for your current clients, for the new ones you get.

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I assume you've been warning them constantly of potential dangers of running out of date software - viruses, malware, blacklisting, lower SE rankings, more upkeep, etc. If you haven't been warning them constantly (not every day, but at least once every few months, MINIMUM), then I don't feel you're doing your absolute best.

While it may be too late for the "preemptive strike" of upgrades, always offer it, now and forever. You can do this as a monthly invoice (i.e. every month/semi monthly, I will log in and run any pending updates on your website's frameworks to keep you safe, and your website running with the latests standards), and stick to it. Minor updates are easier than larger ones, as you know, so a little maintenance every month will save more in the long run. If they deny the service after you show them the potential downfalls and costs of waiting, then the decision has been made.

If they fail to see the ratification, with all the warning you've given them, it's all on them. Remember, they run a business to do something completely different than you or I do, and their decisions has something to do with that. You need to sell yourself as a maintainer as well, not as a "set it and forget it" kind of person.

While I don't use Joomla, I know that Wordpress is extremely easy to update, even if they're hosted on the same server. Is there a way to automate the minor upgrades, and get emailed about the major upgrades? This would free up more time to keep developing and designing for more clients, and allow you to manually intervene for large upgrades.

  • I usually include in the contract an annual fee for upgrading the CMS to the latest version. But comes up a time when you can't upgrade anymore from a major version to another version unless you rebuild the site from zero (for example you have a CMS with an e-commerce component with hundreds products that is not compatible with the new CMS version and maybe there is no upgrades of the component). In that particular moment the clients usually don't want to rebuild a working site even if you warn of all the possible problems. Also the cost of that change would not be cheap. – Mario Apr 8 '15 at 9:27
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Best way to convince someone to upgrade: raise the cost of maintaining the old. That will keep them in the update mindset for good.

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