What a good TYPO3 website should be like? Safe, responsive, searchable!

Some time ago, we analyzed 3,500 medium-sized websites for their content management systems (CMS) and reported on them in our blog post "Medium-sized businesses rely on TYPO3".
Now we have taken a closer look at this data once again. This time to see how up-to-date the TYPO3 instance of the analyzed website is, how responsive the website is, and which search technology has been integrated.

To make it clear at this point: there is still room for improvement. Because:

  • Still many websites use outdated and thus potentially insecure versions of TYPO3.
  • Many of the websites are still not responsive and are therefore becoming increasingly uninteresting for users and search engines.
  • Most sites do not gain the full potential offered by modern search technologies such as Apache Solr for TYPO3. Or they even completely lack a search function.
Make few from many:
Narrowing down the analyzed websites

In order not to analyze all medium-sized websites which, according to our evaluation, are based on TYPO3, we decided to take a subset, which is of importance to us (n=69). The criteria were:

  • Annual turnover: > 50 million €
  • Region: less than 150km from Frankfurt
  • Industry: Industry
  • Business model: B2B

Why new is not only new,
but often also better and almost always safer?

The fact that today, a good 9 years after the release of TYPO3 4.2, there are still websites running an outdated version of TYPO3 4 (13% of the analyzed websites) makes a TYPO3 agency pride. Obviously this is because this content management system runs stable and reliable in practice. That old truism applies here too: Never change a running system.
However, this is not at all a request not to improve something just because it 'runs'. You shouldn't do that, especially if you're moving in a latently insecure environments. And – let's not kid ourselves – the Internet is an insecure environment. Therefore, continuous updates to a technical system is always a requirement of operational reliability.
Many older TYPO3 versions have not been supported for a longer period of time, and even version 6.2 can only be operated safely for some time by purchasing Extended Long Term Support (ELTS). From then on, the TYPO3 security team will no longer provide support for this version.

The security aspect is not the only reason why an update/upgrade makes sense :

  • Security gaps are closed in time
  • Protection of sensitive data through current security technologies
  • Better protection of content against access by third parties Shorter loading times due to optimized code base
  • Enhanced opportunities for developers and editors
  • Modern backend Contemporary features
    And much more

What to do?

If you want to run a secure content management system, you should keep it up to date continuously updating and upgrading the software.
Anyone who is using a version of TYPO3 4 (13% of the pages in our sample) should urgently switch to a version that meets at least the latest security and functionality requirements. And also the users of TYPO3 6 (about one in four of the pages analyzed by us) should gradually prepare themselves for the version jump that will soon be necessary, in order to avoid unnecessary risks and associated costs. Especially if they don't have an ELTS version (Extended Long Term Support).


Responsive web design
Make websites suitable for smartphones

The number of Internet-enabled devices is growing and so the number of variety of displaying current websites is growing respectively. Whether on the road, in the bus, the train or at home on the couch or the toilet, smart devices are increasingly becoming the centre of communication and information.
To achieve a consistent website experience across all current and future devices, the content must be planned and implemented in a responsive manner.
This is not only appreciated by the user (longer retention time, lower bounce rates), but also rewarded by the search engines (keyword: devaluation of not mobile optimized websites by Google).
Surprisingly, almost half (49.7%) of the websites we analyzed were not mobile optimized, making it difficult for both users and search engines to find or like them.
But there is a common solution, which can be easily implemented by using the proper know-how: (Keyword: Responsive Web Design). Because responsively designed pages automatically match the content depending on the display size. And this is just one of the many advantages:

  • Better search engine ranking
  • Better usability
  • Better SEO competitiveness
  • Cost and time savings
  • Easy adaptability

What to do?

Digital mobility is not a trend but a fact. In Q1+Q2 2018 the mobile use of websites was about 66% in Germany (Tablet 11%, Mobile 55%). So, if you want your existing and potential customers to be able to easily find and access your website in the future, you should revise your website accordingly and optimize it for mobile use. As soon as possible and with experts who can do both: TYPO3 and Responsive Web Design.


Who does not search, does not find

Besides the main navigation, the search function is the second most important function which guides the users to relevant and interesting content. The importance of the search function increases as the complexity of the websites and the number of products offered on them increases. That's why we analyzed the websites regarding search technology. And once again we were surprised. Surprised by the fact that almost 22% do not give their visitors the possibility to conduct a selective search at all. We were less surprised that most websites (45%) use Indexed Search to index website content. However, we would like to see more than 6% of websites use Solr for TYPO3. Not only out of self-interest (we have been developing and maintaining this extension for many years), but out of deep conviction. Apache Solr for TYPO3 is not only extremely fast, it loves huge amounts of data and supports users in their search with numerous comfort functions:

  • Full-text search
  • Faceted Search
  • Complex filter criteria feasible
  • Search linked documents
  • Spell check
  • Auto-completion
  • REST interface and XML-based configuration
  • And much more

What to do?

A good website should offer the users different ways to access the content. This also includes a user-friendly and powerful search. Apache Solr for TYPO3 is such a search technology. Apache Solr for TYPO3 is fast and powerful and can also be equipped with numerous comfort functions. The content should not only be searchable, but also get found.


Bottom line

TYPO3 is a powerful content management system that enjoys great popularity even among medium-sized companies (see our blog post on the subject). It's just a pity that many medium-sized websites rely on rather old versions of TYPO3 and take unnecessary security risks. And even the signs of the digital age don't seem to have been recognized. Not all present their websites in an up-to-date way including proper search function and mobile optimized content.

von Matthias Dörzbacher

Creative Director, bedenkt, beschreibt, bebildert und bearbeitet Projekte bei der dkd seit 2011.