Particularly for the types of complex builds that Drupal is best-suited to, having a website development company that can act as a strategic partner is key to success. Though it’s possible for non-technical people to pull off the launch of a templated site with a simple architecture, planning and structuring a complex build requires experience. The best Drupal companies will not only be able to handle every technical aspect of your website build, they’ll be able to strategically plan the build from start to finish. You’ll benefit greatly from the insights of a development partner that is able to advise and execute.
Top Drupal Website Design Companies
How Drupal Web Design Agencies Improve Modern Businesses Online
Table of Contents
- Top Drupal Features That Improve Website Designs
- Questions To Ask Top Drupal Design and Development Agencies
- How To Choose The Best Drupal Developer
- Top Value Propositions & Differentiating Factors Of The Best Drupal Website Design Companies
- Top Qualities Of The Best Drupal Website Design Companies
Top Drupal Features That Improve Website Designs
At its core, Drupal is a content management system (CMS). It is an open source software that designers and developers can use as a foundation upon which they can build their designs. Although you don’t necessarily need to be a web design expert to utilize Drupal programs in your site, it is worth your while to hire professionals to make the process smooth and simple.
Drupal can be modified and personalized to each design. The CMS is a huge draw for businesses because it can work with many types of content, including social media, videos, polls, interactive graphics, and more. Plus, Drupal offers businesses strong backend content management, enabling them to categorize information, create their own lists, and quickly search through existing information.
Third-party integrations are the key to ensuring a website -- particularly e-commerce destinations -- has all the functionality it needs… and Drupal checks the box. External menus, libraries, payment systems and more can all be added seamlessly to your design and feed information directly into your Drupal CMS.
Additionally, Drupal has clear and comprehensive APIs available to make the actual integrations easy for your developers to handle, plus a support team for an added layer of encouragement. But keep in mind that APIs can be long and complicated, particularly if you have a smaller dev team. Hiring a team of Drupal design and development experts is typically a wise investment that provides a strong ROI and gets you up and running fast.
In 2015, Drupal reported that they had no large or widespread security breaches throughout Drupal Core, proving that the program is equipped to protect company and customer information. In addition, Drupal provides regular updates, announcements, and assistance to help users feel confident in the program.
Businesses that use open-source software such as Drupal need to know that their information -- and any data they collect from consumers -- is safe and protected. Without it, they are subject to data breaches, public scandals, and a loss of trust from consumers. Although it isn’t a direct business growth feature, there’s no doubt that strong security builds better, longer-lasting businesses.
Drupal arrives SEO-optimized and ready to go, which aids user experience, search rankings, overall brand visibility and, thus, conversions. What’s better? Drupal also offers additional modules to further improve search engine optimization through title tags, on-page content optimization and more.
The software arrives already optimized for SEO, with an emphasis on simple layouts that outline the information Google is looking for plain and simple. Drupal also comes automatically mobile-friendly, which is key considering more than half of all Internet users access it through their mobile devices. This emphasis on search engine optimization provides excellent and easy opportunities for business growth. After all, it’s Google’s world -- we’re just living in it.
Finally, Drupal is one of the best content management and open source software choices for website designs because it can be scaled to any business and modified to suit any objectives. Every feature and implementation can be simple and streamlined for small businesses AND large, in-charge and completely comprehensive for big corporations with in-depth needs.
In addition to fitting the scale and size of each company, Drupal software ensures that websites can be completely customized to meet a brand’s products, services and messaging. When you build a website with the Drupal framework, you won’t be getting a run-of-the-mill template -- you’ll receive strong functionalities that will tailor to your goals and improve user experience online.
Questions To Ask Top Drupal Design and Development Agencies
The best Drupal design and development agencies house top experts who can handle every aspect and implementation within your project, proving that the individuals working on your Drupal project are just as important as the reputable agency they work for. Ask the questions below to make sure you entrust your company to reliable professionals you can trust.
- Who will be working on the project?
- How dedicated will they be to our project?
- What area, features or functions does each expert specialize in?
- How long have they worked on Drupal projects?
- What value do you think Drupal will bring our business?
- What previous projects have you worked on? What was the outcome?
- Tell us about a difficult project. What did you learn?
- Which technical skills so you utilize when working on Drupal projects?
- Do you have any special certifications?
Drupal is a unique content management in that they also help track top professionals. Drupal.org, as well as various associations, track projects, contributions, and continuing ed such as professional webinars. Run top firms through an official Drupal search, then learn more about their involvement with the Drupal community through the questions below.
- How many Drupal projects have you worked on? What was the outcome?
- Do you or any of your team members participate in any webinars or continuing education?
- Does anyone have any additional Drupal certifications?
- Are you and/or your team members involved in the Drupal community? How so?
- Who are some clients that you have worked with?
- Would any clients be willing to speak to us about their experience working with you?
Top Drupal design and development companies know that setting concrete goals makes them far more likely to achieve them. Plus, a detailed project timeline ensures that every task is completed on time -- nothing will slip through the cracks and you’ll know exactly who is responsible for each element. Ask the following questions to understand an agency’s process and discover if it matches your company’s work ethic.
- How will you determine objectives?
- What metrics do you use to measure results and how often do you report on them?
- How will you create a project timeline?
- Do you have a plan to keep the project on track?
- Will we have a project manager?
- Who will our point of contact be?
- How often will we have calls or meetings? Are those capped?
Even the best Drupal designers and developers can have inconsistencies in their codes, implementations, and standards, which is why QA (quality assurance) testing is so important. QA engineers act as an unbiased third party that tests development to ensure it operates as it was intended -- and great Drupal agencies have their own in-house QA analysts, which expedites the process and saves you time and money. Ask the following questions to gain a stronger understanding of an agencies QA process.
- Do you have an in-house quality assurance team?
- How often do they test functions?
- What process do you have in place for testing new features before they go live?
- What process is in place for ensuring new and live features maintain strong functionality?
- Do you have a team in place to handle API integrations?
- Which Drupal roadmaps are they well-versed in?
- How did you determine your QA standards? How do you ensure they are met and maintained?
Most importantly, great Drupal agencies work with their clients to determine every objective, deliverable, and cost, then document it in a professional contract. This binding commitments safeguard your overall project and remove the unknowns that are often associated with an outsourced project, creating a positive and decisive working environment for both parties. Ensure you sign a contract your confident in by asking the questions below.
- How much do your services cost?
- Do you have flexible pricing, monthly, or by-result payment options?
- Which goals, deliverables, and results will be documented and guaranteed by the contract?
- Can our legal team work directly with yours to fine-tune the contract and ensure it is binding?
- Will additional information be included in the contract?
How To Choose The Best Drupal Developer
Before you start searching for top Drupal development companies, take stock of your own needs. Determine the information you need to present to consumers, the features your website needs to ensure a strong and positive user experience, then find the professionals who specialize in those Drupal areas.
There are dozens of Drupal features, but chances are you won’t need them all. However, it is imperative that you find top developers who are well-versed in the components you DO need to grow your business. However, look beyond your immediate needs and envision the future, too -- if you plan on adding more functions down the road, you should find experts that can handle those projects in order to minimize onboarding and increase consistency. Finally, don’t forget the importance of quality assurance -- you will want a team on hand to test new functionalities and ensure that every consumer has a positive experience on your website.
The best Drupal development agencies are well-versed in the various programs, integrations and APIs needed to pair Drupal programs with individual businesses. And, better yet, they have top experts in place who can facilitate those integrations quickly and easily.
Therefore, partner with an agency who has a dedicated team of professionals and a streamlined process in place -- anything less than that isn’t worth your time, energy or money. Respectable Drupal agencies can be relied on to manage all aspects of Drupal website design and development, allowing your internal team to focus on other projects.
Great Drupal design and development companies have extensive portfolios filled with specific experience, case studies, and projects they have worked on -- all of which you should thoroughly examine before signing a contract and beginning a partnership.
Ask each agency specific questions about their prior work. Learn what business goals each initiative achieved, the challenges they faced, and the Drupal features they utilized. Then, discover what technical skill sets were utilized to gain a stronger understanding of how much knowledge an agency team actually has.
Pro Tip: Look up a possible development agency on Drupal.org -- they list the contributions each developer has made in the Drupal community and will show you how in-demand their services are, too. Plus, there are other Drupal associations and programs that provide additional expertise.
Drupal projects can be complicated and involve many departments, so it is imperative you partner with a website design and development agencies that has a concrete organization, detailed team structure, and support team that is able to offer clients complete support and guidance. This directly informs the success of your overall design project.
A regimented management system enables your Drupal agency to set goals, create timelines, produce deliverables, and communicate with clients (i.e. you) more efficiently. Although overall knowledge and skill set are important, if you don’t have an organized process that your company is comfortable with, your website project runs the risk of falling behind schedule or -- worse yet -- falling short of your business objectives.
When you enlist the help of a top Drupal design and development company, you aren’t paying for a website -- you’re paying for an end result. Therefore, understand your possible return on investment before you commit to a company. A higher initial fee could conclude in better business growth.
In addition, understand how an agency’s pricing structure really operates. Perhaps they have a flexible cost of services or you can pay per results and revenue. For example, if you hire a Drupal agency to improve an e-commerce website, but your new website only marginally increases revenue, it would make more sense for your business to only pay for the outcomes that were actually achieved.
Top Value Propositions & Differentiating Factors Of The Best Drupal Website Design Companies
Navigating the landscape of content management systems (CMS) and application platforms is, at times, a daunting prospect. Identifying the best CMS to power your website is not always an obvious choice and, to muddy the waters even further, there are many different platforms all claiming to offer the most powerful solution.
Among the most commonly-explored options for website content management is Drupal. When it comes to evaluation, Drupal often comes up against the likes of WordPress and Joomla. Though each platform has its merits, Drupal is frequently cited as the most powerful, infinitely scalable choice.
Below we review the key attributes of the Drupal platform and discuss which types of businesses and websites find the most success building on Drupal. We’ll also cover what to look for in a Drupal development company.
What Types Of Sites Use Drupal?
Drupal is among the most popular content management systems and application frameworks in use today. Drupal is an open source CMS, which means it’s free to use, adapt, and modify as you wish. From an implementation perspective, Drupal can be used as an out of the box CMS to run simple websites, but further customization requires a high level of technical skill.
The most significant benefit to building on Drupal is the platform’s flexibility and ability to scale. This particular attribute makes Drupal a top choice for more complex sites that require high levels of customization. The platform can be manipulated to take virtually any form or accomplish any task a company requires. It’s no surprise then that Drupal is the platform of choice for many complex websites in various sectors. Large content sites like The Economist and Al Jazeera are built on Drupal, as are many government sites (City of London, City of Los Angeles, Bermuda) and higher education sites like Rutgers University and Georgetown.
The downsides of Drupal are mostly centered around issues of cost. Harnessing the full power of Drupal through customization can only be accomplished by experienced Drupal developers. Such experts are in high demand and can charge high rates for their services. Drupal also roles out major updates (most recently Drupal 8) every few years, and these can require a significant amount of work to implement, resulting in higher maintenance costs than might be found with other platforms. As a result, small businesses may not see their money’s worth from a Drupal build if their website needs can be more readily and cost-effectively met by an alternative platform like WordPress or Joomla.
Drupal Themes & Modules
Drupal is fully customizable. Free themes and modules exist to help users tailor the platform to meet their specific needs.
For those that want to take a more out of the box approach to their Drupal build, or simply wish to reduce the need for a lot of design time and resources, there are many Drupal themes to choose from. Mobile compatibility and responsive design are key needs in the modern digital era, and many free Drupal themes are mobile-first, so they’re designed to always meet the needs and expectations of the mobile user. With over 2,000 free Drupal themes to choose from, there is truly no dearth of options available.
Drupal modules are add-ons to Drupal core which can extend and modify platform functionality to better meet a specific website’s needs. Modules are created and maintained by members of the Drupal community (see below) and are offered for free to Drupal users. Modules can do anything from help CMS users manage content to create SEO-friendly URLs, and virtually everything in between.
As a flexible and scalable platform, Drupal can of course handle e-commerce needs. Drupal Commerce offers full e-commerce functionality through the Drupal platform. Due to a strong focus on content, Drupal Commerce promises to marry content creation with product management for a powerful online shopping experience that converts visitors.
What Is The Drupal Community?
As an open-source CMS, Drupal is built and maintained by a community of dedicated, expert developers. Drupal developers are also the minds behind the many free themes and modules that are available to enhance Drupal core.
Because of its power and customizability, Drupal attracts some of the best developers. Drupal forums are frequented by many skilled Drupal developers who are willing and able to help resolve issues other members of the community are experiencing.
Because of its power and customizability, Drupal attracts some of the best developers. Drupal forums are frequented by many skilled Drupal developers who are willing and able to help resolve issues other members of the community are experiencing.
Top Drupal Web Design Firms Are Cutting-Edge
Staying up to date with Drupal requires dedication. As with any area of programming, the landscape is in a state of constant flux. Developers who neglect to keep their skills current will quickly find themselves behind the curve, and this can cause delays and issues when executing client projects. Top Drupal development companies are immersed in this community of engaged developers. They take the time to invest in training and certification opportunities, and they actively participate in events and forums.
There are many ways for Drupal developers to stay engaged in the community and remain at the cutting edge of improvements and updates. For one thing, there’s DrupalCon, an annual conference that brings together Drupal developers from all around the world. For developers, DrupalCon is a place to explore ideas, get inspired, and stretch the limits of what’s possible.There are also training opportunities for developers looking to hone their Drupal expertise.
The Best Drupal Web Design Companies Act As Partners
Service Offerings Of Top Drupal Development Companies
If you’re working with a Drupal team within a larger web design agency, you can expect that the company will be able to provide a broad range of services beyond technical development.
Common services on offer at many Drupal companies include:
- Strategy - The strategy phase enables the Drupal team to conduct necessary research into target audience and key competition. The deliverable is usually a strategy document that outlines the project approach, recommendations for content structure, and core messaging.
- Drupal website design and development - Start to finish custom Drupal website design, including user experience design, responsive layout, visual design, development, and quality assurance.
- Content migration - Some agencies and design companies will assist with content migration from an existing website to a newly redesigned one. Content upload services are usually not included as part of the redesign and will likely come at an additional cost to the client.
- Drupal hosting - Web development companies frequently help arrange web hosting services on behalf of their clients, including managed Drupal hosting and cloud hosting if desired.
- Digital marketing - Many Drupal development companies also offer digital marketing services to their clients. Marketing services may include SEO, PPC, social media marketing, and content marketing.
Drupal is a powerful CMS and application platform upon which to build a website, from the most basic to the most functionally-complex. Though Drupal is open source and free to use, it requires skilled technical developers to customize and maintain. Drupal provides a level of flexibility and scalability that makes it a top choice for many sites on the web.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering Drupal for a web build.
- When to use Drupal - Due to development and maintenance costs, Drupal is usually best-suited for complex projects that require customization. Small businesses with small development budgets might find better success with a managed solution.
- Drupal Modules and Themes - Drupal’s large and engaged developer community means that there are many free themes and modules other members of the community can use to modify the look, feel, and functionality of their sites.
- Drupal Community - The Drupal community comprises thousands of experienced developers. These developers are active in creating and maintaining new modules, and helping other site managers resolve issues.
- Drupal Expertise - When hiring a Drupal development company, finding one with a high level of expertise is paramount. Look for Drupal developers who are committed to maintaining their skills.
- Partnership with a Drupal development company - The best Drupal development companies are the ones that can act as partners to help clients crystallize their ideas and outline strategies for tackling complex builds.
Top Qualities Of The Best Drupal Website Design Companies
If you’re undertaking a project built on Drupal, it follows that the company you hire to do the work should have solid experience building Drupal sites. If you want to make sure your project is built to specification, and that you don’t have problems down the line, it’s imperative that you hire someone with the right expertise. Top Drupal web design companies have executed many Drupal builds before. They know the ins-and-outs of the platform and they’re familiar with the technologies upon which the platform rests. Make sure your project is in capable hands by choosing a vendor with a history of Drupal experience.
Demonstrated Track Record
Any vendor who says they have experience with Drupal will have a demonstrated track record they can point to in support of that claim. Top Drupal web design companies are more than willing to share examples of previous projects with prospective clients. They should be able to walk you through the specifics of each project’s objectives, as well as the team’s approach to the build and any unique challenges they faced. Be sure to ask for references from previous clients as these can provide deeper insight into the way the vendor works and how satisfied customers are with their websites after the fact.
Emphasis On Strategy
Though you’re probably eager to dive head-first into the design process, the first step of any website build should be strategy and planning. This is where your Drupal web design company will take the time to understand your goals and objectives and to outline the project requirements. Documenting these things at the beginning of the project ensures that both teams are aligned and that your needs and expectations are met.
Communication may sound like a simple thing, but you’d be surprised how much of an impact it can have on the outcome of a project. Communication breakdown is catastrophic for a website build. A successful launch necessitates clear, consistent communication throughout every stage of the process. Top Drupal web design companies are not only experts in the platform, they’re exceptional communicators as well. Always look for a vendor that will work well with your team, and fits nicely within your company culture. After all, they’ll be an arm of your team for months. When it comes to web design, it pays to work with a collaborative team that values your input.
Website builds require a tremendous amount of coordination. There are many moving pieces to manage, and one minor snag can cause a cascade of other issues. That’s why every build needs to orchestrated by a skilled project manager. Yes, technical and creative expertise are key to getting the project done right, but no amount of technical ability will make up for a lack of effective project management. Project managers keep projects running smoothly, and ensure everyone remains accountable to their deadlines and deliverables. Make sure whichever vendor you decide to work with is one that has talented, capable project managers as part of their team.