Posted to Volacci's blog on November 9th, 2011

7 Things to Look For in a Drupal Developer: Drupal Web Development

Maybe you’ve made the extremely intelligent decision to switch to the Drupal CMS; maybe you’ve been a Drupalite for awhile but are looking for some Drupal web development insight; or maybe you’re looking for a good CMS home for your site. Regardless of why you’re here, you need a good developer -- you know, the person or company that plans, creates, and maintains your site -- to assist you with this milestone occurrence. A good developer can mean the difference between contentment and discontentment, happiness and unhappiness, sanity and insanity. (image above by Andre Molnar)

See what I’m saying? It’s an important decision. I teamed up with our Business Development Department (which has tirelessly worked to surround Volacci with an immaculate global list of Drupal developers) to write this post. Here is what we look for in a Drupal developer.

Drupal Web Development

1. Experienced 
You want to make sure that your developer doesn't say to you, "I have done that", instead of "I can do that". Drupal's 
endearing complexity lends itself to a longer learning process. Many developers are relatively new to the platform and still learning their way around. You don’t want to pay someone to learn the CMS - you want to pay someone who already knows the CMS.

2. Process-Driven
Does your developer “just wing it”? What checks and balances does he or she have in place to make sure your project is a success?  The easiest way to find this out is by asking the developer questions: “Walk me through my project”, “What is your typical day like?”, “Can you show me samples of your work and walk me through one of your past projects?”. The developer’s answers will reveal more than you think. Bottom line: organization and processes have to be present.

3. Available
Find out if the prospective Drupal developer is overextended, under-extended, or healthily available. You want a developer that has work, but not too much work. The underworked developers are often underworked for a reason; the overworked ones won’t have time for you, especially if you’re not their big-fish client. Find out how available the developer is.

5. Supportive & Communicative
Go ahead, make a developer communication joke. But seriously, the best developers can communicate well with a client, explain problems and solutions thoroughly and avoid demeaning technical talk. Find someone who will give you the explanation you deserve as a paying customer. Much of this can be deciphered in a brief meeting with the project manager.

Support-related questions:
-How will he or she help support the site once it is live?
-Who will make site changes (SEO, content, updates, etc.)?
-What is the communication process for the development company? How can you get in touch with him or her?

6. Highly Recommended
Go first to the Drupal developers you’ve heard good things about. Obviously, a recommendation personalizes the affiliation and puts your mind at ease a bit. Don’t get me wrong, the developer still needs to meet all of the above criteria, but a referral can keep you from wasting your time talking to duds. Talk to your business owner and web friends - they might have some insight.

7. Specialized
Do you need mobile apps, e-commerce solutions, news stories, social orientation or other forms of custom development? Does the size of your project demand special attention? Is the site for a university, non-profit organization or a news site? All of these items are special-needs projects. Make sure your Drupal developer specializes in what you need, and don't take his or her word for it.