What Skills Should Your Drupal Web Developer Have?

Submitted by Candace Saunde… on 05/22/2019 - 11:00:am

In recent years, Drupal has emerged as a leading CMS for enterprise-level organizations. As a powerful and robust open source framework, many businesses feel confident that the CMS will be able to change and grow as their business does. Successfully building a Drupal site, however, requires a Drupal web developer with substantial knowledge of the platform.  

So, how can you find a developer (or a team) with this skill set? Well, you’ll need to become informed on Drupal development for yourself. That way, you’ll know what skills your Drupal developer will need to create a site that aligns with your expectations—or maybe even supersedes them.

As you interview your potential developers, you’ll want to discuss the skills they have to offer and how those skills apply to Drupal. To make this easier for you, we’ve outlined several areas your developer should be skilled in. With this, you should be prepared to hire a Drupal developer ready to create the perfect Drupal website for your needs.

A Strong Grasp of PHP & PHP Frameworks

While many developers will jump from one CMS to the next, there are foundational coding languages that your developer will need to be familiar with to work with Drupal. Since Drupal 7 was built using PHP, and Drupal 8 was built using Symfony (a PHP framework), it’s absolutely vital that your developer has a working knowledge of PHP and PHP frameworks.

Likewise, custom Drupal development is also dependent on the knowledge of MySQL and JQuery. Understanding MySQL is necessary for setting up your Drupal database, while JQuery (a JavaScript library) makes it easier to carry out standard DOM, events, effects, and AJAX functions.

Experience Installing & Building Drupal Modules

Drupal modules make it possible to integrate many third-party services and tool with your site. In this way, your site can become a hub for accessing many of your most frequently used tools from one place, as well as a more highly customized tool for your website visitors to use.

While there is no “set” list of specific modules your developer should include on your site, he should generally be familiar with installing the 1) Views module, 2) Panels module, and 3) cTools module. However, with a general familiarity of module installation, your developer should be capable of installing whatever modules your site may need.

In addition to installation, your developer should also know how to develop modules himself. While the Drupal community is very active in consistently cranking out Drupal modules (the number now exceeds 30,000+), there are many apps that are yet to have modules built for them.

If you have a software application in mind that doesn’t have a module available for it, your developer will need to build a custom module for you. To see if a module is available for your favorite app, visit the Drupal Integration app directory.

Familiarity with Drupal Theme Development

Modules provide much of the functionality behind your Drupal site, but what about design? The theme of your site will significantly influence the appearance of your site (or user interface) and, thereby, the user experience you provide as well. Alongside a solid understanding of UI/UX design, appropriately theming a website is critical.

While the Drupal community offers up a couple of thousand themes to choose from (over 2,000+ at the moment), you might find that most themes will meet most of your design needs but not all. Particularly if you anticipate that your site will require a more unique theme, you’ll certainly want to ensure that your developer can build a custom theme, if necessary.

A Grasp on Version Control with Git

Git and GitHub are utilized by developers to achieve version control across project sizes and types. While using Git and GitHub have generally become standard practice, you can find comfort in knowing that your developer uses these tools, and here’s why.

Git itself helps developers to work more effectively by making it easier for them to manage their project files. Moreover, by storing code in a GitHub repository, for example, your developer can store the code for each version of your Drupal project he builds along the way. That way, if something goes wrong with the code in the future, he can revert it back to a prior version.

Debugging & Updating a Drupal Site 

In addition to using Git version control, another valuable skill Drupal developers should have is the ability to identify bugs in their code as they are writing it. While no developer is able to notice every potential error or issue during the coding process, addressing errors during the coding process can save time and prevent further issues from occurring down the road.

While debugging during the developing process is helpful, addressing bugs that arise once the site goes live is even more important. Not all Drupal developers offer post-launch maintenance, but those that do will greatly simplify ensuring that your site is bug-free, up-to-date, and providing the best user experience for your users.

Speaking of updates, learn more about what’s new with Drupal 8.7.0 here.

An In-Depth Knowledge of Drupal Security

With Drupal as your platform of choice, you are likely already aware that it offers great security. While it may be one of the most secure systems out there, however, it’s not immune from security threats. As such, your Drupal developer will need to understand how to keep your new site safe.

Ensuring that a Drupal site remains secure, for the most part, has more to do with ensuring that the site itself and its module’s remain up-to-date. Nevertheless, to make your site as secure as possible, your developer will need to take additional measures, such as installing security modules to blocking bots and access to valuable files, among other things.

Still Looking for a Drupal Web Developer?

While there are many Drupal web developers out there, finding one that offers the high-quality services you were hoping for can be a challenge. We hope that understanding the aforementioned skills will help you to select a developer, or team of developers, that make your Drupal dreams a reality.

Of course, you can also decide to stop your search here. At ClikFocus, our Drupal experts have built Drupal websites for small to enterprise-level organizations, and we’re ready to do the same for you.

Making your site come to life is just a message away—drop us a line.