What is a Drupal developer? Skills for the perfect hire

Alliance  ·  November 02

Drupal is one of the fastest growing CMS platforms for website development and for good reason. Drupal offers many capabilities when it comes to a website’s design and functionality features. As the interest in Drupal continues to grow, so do clients’ needs for great Drupal developers. But what exactly does a Drupal developer do, and where would you look to hire one? In this article, we will run through what exactly a Drupal developer does, what skills you need as a Drupal developer, and if you are looking to hire one for your next project, where to begin your search.

What is Drupal?

For those looking to  learn more about the platform, Drupal is an open-source content management system for websites with code written in PHP. Drupal is known for its power and ability to be highly scalable, making it the preferred choice for large and complex organizations. But Drupal is not just limited to larger organizations, many other businesses choose to use the platform because of its ability to allow users to easily manage content and flexibility in how content is presented (it now has over 42,000 free modules).

Drupal Developer

Why choose Drupal as your CMS platform?

  • Drupal is a very powerful CMS that allows for many different customization features and content presentation 
  • Drupal allows for advanced levels of functionality and custom development options
  • Drupal allows for different software integration
  • Drupal is good for large organizations with a complex structure and high level of content
  • Drupal offers an advanced level of user permissions for a large team working on the website

Drupal also offers the ability to increase the functionality of any website. Through Drupal modules, new integrations can be made to increase the functionality of a website to augment and streamline different processes for a business. This can range from anything from a membership section to a checkout feature for a retail website. The options are endless since there are tens of thousands of free modules currently available. Drupal also offers the ability to scale a website’s look and feel through themes, which alter different aspects of a website’s front-end design like content presentation, layout, and navigation.

Since Drupal is a highly complex and scalable platform, finding the right Drupal development expert is extremely important to ensure the website is built correctly or any issues can be resolved. 

What is a Drupal developer?

A Drupal developer is someone who fully understands how to write code in PHP, which is the chosen server language for Drupal’s CMS system. A Drupal developer will also understand how to write code to expand on Drupal’s current functionalities, such as custom module and theme writing.

Skills of a Drupal Developer

The Drupal developer might also understand how to fully build a custom Drupal website from start to finish. 

Drupal Site Building vs. Theme/Module Development  

It is important to understand that the skills of a Drupal developer will vary, and just because you come across a Drupal development team, they might not have the capabilities your project requires. For example, a Drupal developer that offers theme and module development may not have the same development capabilities as someone that builds Drupal websites.

Skills of A Drupal Theme Front-End Developer

  • Specializes in front-end development work 
  • Specializes in improving a current website’s look and feel through a chosen layout, content presentation, and design choice
  • Understanding of HTML, CSS, Javascript
  • Understanding of how to improve a website’s design
  • Understanding of website design trends
  • Understanding of what a responsive design should look like on mobile or portable devices

Skills of a A Drupal Module Developer

  • Specializes in back-end development work
  • Understanding of PHP
  • Specializes in writing of custom Drupal modules
  • Specializes in development of new functionality for a website
  • Manages all back-end testing to ensure the website runs as it should

Skills of A Drupal Website Builder

  • Understands how to combine custom module and theme development to finalize a fully functional Drupal website
  • Develops a Drupal website concept
  • Responsible for website design planning, wireframing, content organization
  • Will be able to recommend different theme and module choices to clients depending on the needs of their new website design
  • Responsible for building out website layouts, site navigation, content presentation, and image presets

As you can see, the three types of Drupal experts mentioned above offer different skill sets: back-end development, front-end development, and website building. You might find that some companies offer both front-end and back-end Drupal development. These experts may work together on a website building project. But if you are to come across someone that just builds Drupal websites and does not mention front or back-end Drupal development as part of their skillset, they likely will hire someone to build custom modules and themes and will serve as more of a project manager to combine these elements to create a new Drupal website design.

When searching for a Drupal developer, you want to ensure that their skillset is based specifically on Drupal. Some developers might have the capability to write a PHP server language, or have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, Javascript, but Drupal is a highly complex CMS platform, and not having a full understanding of the platforms capabilities will likely result in having to troubleshoot coding errors down the road.

Drupal Agencies

Some companies function as a full-service Drupal agency. These companies will likely have a full team of Drupal development experts that specialize in Drupal front-end development, Drupal backend development, and Drupal website building. These agencies will likely be able to offer you more options when it comes to the look and feel of your new website design as well as the level of functionality it can provide because they have a higher skill set and more knowledge about the platform. Additionally, a Drupal agency will be able to help with website maintenance after a website design project is completed, ensuring that your website continues to provide a great experience for your visitors. Below are some other advantages of hiring a Drupal Agency vs. a sole Drupal developer:

  • Easier ability to adhere to project timelines due to more help on a project and lessened likelihood of project delays
  • Better communication throughout a website design project
  • A higher level of development skills 
  • A dedicated team that will work on your project
  • Ability to offer website maintenance after a project is completed
  • Possibly may offer other digital services such as marketing, SEO, advertising, etc to help grow your business
  • May offer more insight on new technologies and Drupal functionalities that you can incorporate into your website design
  • May offer tools to help test your website and track effectiveness of the new design
  • Ability to scale a website design after a project is completed

Drupal Custom Development

Drupal offers some amazing features when it comes to content presentation and functionality. An agency that offers custom Drupal development will be able to offer a variety of different Drupal development services and have a higher level of flexibility when it comes to Drupal projects. Drupal custom development experts will likely have the capabilities to integrate the latest modules and themes supported by the Drupal community, as well as assist in a full migration of a website from an existing CMS platform to Drupal. Some other services a Drupal custom development agency might offer include: 

  • Custom Drupal Website Design
  • Custom Drupal Website Development
  • Drupal Migration Services
  • Drupal Backend Module Development
  • Drupal Front End Theme Development
  • Drupal Upgrades and Integrations

Drupal Website Maintenance

Once a new Drupal website is finished, it is important that you have a website maintenance plan in place after a project is completed. Having a team that handles your website maintenance ensures that you can continue to offer a great user experience for your visitors online through a website that is secure, performs well and is up to date on the latest Drupal functionalities and design choices to provide the best possible impression of your brand. Alliance Interactive is a full service Drupal Agency that can fully support your custom Drupal development needs and provide Drupal website maintenance and support options.

Questions to Ask a Drupal Developer

With so many options for Drupal developers available online today, you might feel a little lost on where to begin to find the best person for your business’s needs. Below are some questions to ask when looking to hire a Drupal developer for a project.

  • Do you specialize in Drupal front-end development, back-end development, or Drupal website building?
  • Can I see some of your recent Drupal projects?
  • What does communication look like throughout my Drupal development project?
  • Are you a full service Drupal agency? If so, how many Drupal experts do you have on your team, and what types of development do they specialize in?
  • Are you familiar with current Drupal design trends? 
  • Have you worked with businesses similar to mine on previous Drupal development projects?
  • How many years of experience do you have working in Drupal development?
  • Do you offer custom Drupal development?
  • Do you offer Drupal website maintenance services?

Looking for a Drupal Development Expert?

Alliance is a Drupal development company focused on your success. We create websites that are easily managed, responsive across all devices, and designed to attract and engage new visitors online. Whether you’re looking to build a brand new website or improve your marketing, get in touch and we’ll be happy to show you.

To get started with us, just give us a call at 888-222-9056 or contact us online today!