Drupal Developer

What is Drupal and Why Choose It for Your Website?

Drupal is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) that is used by millions of websites around the world. It’s known for its flexibility, scalability, and robust features, making it an excellent choice for both small and large websites.

Key Features of Drupal

  • Modularity: Drupal’s modular system allows developers to add and remove features as needed, making it highly customizable.
  • Security: Known for its strong security, Drupal is trusted by many government and enterprise websites.
  • Scalability: Whether you have a small blog or a large e-commerce site, Drupal can handle it. Its ability to manage high traffic makes it a preferred choice for large-scale websites.
  • Community Support: With a large community of developers and contributors, Drupal offers extensive support, documentation, and modules.

Why Choose Drupal?

  • Flexibility: Drupal allows for extensive customization, which means you can tailor your website to meet specific needs.
  • SEO-Friendly: Drupal has built-in SEO tools that help improve your site’s visibility on search engines.
  • Multi-language Support: It supports multiple languages, making it ideal for international websites.
  • Mobile-Ready: Drupal’s responsive design capabilities ensure your site looks great on any device.

Choosing Drupal for your website means you’re opting for a robust, secure, and scalable solution that can grow with your business.

Key Skills Every Drupal Developer Should Have

Becoming a proficient Drupal developer requires a diverse skill set. Here are some of the essential skills:

Proficiency in PHP

Drupal is built on PHP, so a strong understanding of PHP is crucial. Developers should be able to write clean, efficient, and secure PHP code.

Understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Front-end development skills are essential for creating and customizing Drupal themes. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript knowledge will enable you to make your site look and function as desired.

Familiarity with MySQL

Drupal uses MySQL as its database management system. Developers should know how to write and optimize SQL queries.

Experience with Drupal Theming and Module Development

Understanding how to create custom themes and modules is critical. This involves knowing the Drupal theming layer and the hook system for module development.

Knowledge of Version Control Systems

Version control systems like Git are vital for managing changes to the codebase and collaborating with other developers.

Drupal Developer

Understanding of APIs

Drupal has various APIs that developers can use to extend functionality. Familiarity with these APIs can help in creating more advanced features.

Problem-Solving Skills

Drupal development often involves complex problem-solving. Being able to debug issues and find effective solutions is essential.

Soft Skills

Good communication skills, the ability to work in a team, and a proactive attitude are important soft skills for any developer.

The Role of a Drupal Developer in Web Development

A Drupal developer plays a crucial role in the web development process, from initial planning to deployment and maintenance.

Planning and Requirements Gathering

  • Understanding Client Needs: Gathering and understanding the client’s requirements is the first step. This includes determining the functionality, design, and features needed.
  • Technical Planning: Deciding on the technical approach, including which modules to use, custom code needed, and architecture design.


  • Front-End Development: Creating and customizing themes to match the desired look and feel of the website.
  • Back-End Development: Developing custom modules to add functionality, integrating third-party services, and ensuring the site’s logic and database structure are sound.
  • Content Management: Setting up content types, taxonomies, and views to ensure content is managed and displayed effectively.


  • Unit Testing: Testing individual components to ensure they work as expected.
  • Integration Testing: Ensuring that all parts of the system work together correctly.
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT): Verifying that the system meets the business requirements and is ready for deployment.


  • Server Setup: Configuring the server environment for optimal performance and security.
  • Migration: Moving the site from a development environment to the live server.


  • Updates: Regularly updating Drupal core and modules to keep the site secure.
  • Bug Fixes: Addressing any issues that arise after the site is live.
  • Performance Optimization: Continuously monitoring and improving the site’s performance.

How to Hire the Best Drupal Developer for Your Project

Hiring the right Drupal developer can make a significant difference in the success of your project. Here are some tips to help you find the best candidate:

Define Your Requirements

  • Scope of Work: Clearly outline what you need the developer to do. This could include custom module development, theming, integrations, etc.
  • Skills Required: Specify the skills and experience you’re looking for, such as expertise in PHP, MySQL, front-end technologies, etc.

Where to Find Developers

  • Freelance Platforms: Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Toptal can connect you with freelance Drupal developers.
  • Job Boards: Post your job on tech-specific job boards like Stack Overflow Jobs, GitHub Jobs, and LinkedIn.
  • Drupal Community: Engage with the Drupal community through forums, local meetups, and conferences to find experienced developers.

Evaluating Candidates

  • Portfolio: Review their previous work to ensure they have experience with projects similar to yours.
  • Technical Test: Give them a small project or problem to solve to test their technical skills.
  • Interviews: Conduct thorough interviews to assess their problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and cultural fit.

Checking References

  • Past Employers: Contact their previous employers or clients to get feedback on their work ethic, reliability, and technical skills.
  • Community Reputation: Check their involvement in the Drupal community, such as contributions to modules, participation in forums, and presence at Drupal events.

Top Tools and Modules for Drupal Developers

Drupal offers a wide range of tools and modules that can significantly enhance a developer’s productivity and the functionality of a site.

Development Tools

  • Drush: A command-line shell and scripting interface for Drupal, Drush can automate common tasks and make managing Drupal sites easier.
  • Drupal Console: A suite of tools to generate boilerplate code, interact and debug Drupal 8/9 applications.
  • Composer: A dependency manager for PHP that can manage module dependencies and updates.
  • Git: Version control system to track changes and collaborate with other developers.

Essential Modules

  • Views: Allows you to create, manage, and display lists of content. It’s one of the most powerful and widely-used modules.
  • Pathauto: Automatically generates SEO-friendly URLs based on content types, titles, and other tokens.
  • Token: Provides a way to use small placeholders for dynamic data in your content.
  • Devel: Provides various developer and debugging tools, including the ability to generate dummy content.
  • CKEditor: A powerful WYSIWYG editor for content

editing, allowing for a more user-friendly experience when adding content.

  • Paragraphs: Allows for the creation of flexible, structured content by enabling the addition of different sections or “paragraphs” to content types.
  • Admin Toolbar: Enhances the default Drupal administration menu to make navigating the admin interface more efficient.
  • Backup and Migrate: Simplifies the process of backing up and migrating your Drupal site.
  • Features: Helps in managing and exporting configurations as code, making it easier to manage changes across environments.

Understanding the Drupal Development Workflow

Understanding the development workflow is crucial for efficiently building and maintaining Drupal sites.

Local Development Environment

  • Setting Up: Use tools like Acquia Dev Desktop, Docker, or local LAMP/LEMP stacks to set up a local development environment.
  • Configuration: Configure your local environment to mirror the production environment as closely as possible, ensuring consistency and minimizing surprises during deployment.

Version Control

  • Branching Strategy: Adopt a branching strategy (e.g., Gitflow) to manage feature development, bug fixes, and releases.
  • Commit Messages: Write clear and descriptive commit messages to keep a detailed history of changes.


  • Theme Development: Create custom themes using Twig, the templating engine for Drupal 8 and 9.
  • Module Development: Develop custom modules to extend Drupal’s functionality, following best practices and using hooks and APIs.
  • Configuration Management: Use the Configuration Management system to export and import configurations, ensuring consistency across environments.


  • Automated Testing: Implement automated tests using PHPUnit, SimpleTest, or Behat to ensure code quality and functionality.
  • Manual Testing: Conduct thorough manual testing to catch any issues that automated tests might miss.


  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): Use CI/CD pipelines to automate testing, build, and deployment processes. Tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, or GitLab CI can be useful.
  • Environment Management: Maintain separate environments for development, staging, and production, ensuring a smooth transition of code and configurations.


  • Updates: Regularly apply updates to Drupal core and contributed modules to keep the site secure.
  • Monitoring: Use monitoring tools like New Relic or the ELK stack to track site performance and quickly identify issues.
  • Backup: Regularly back up the site, including the database and files, to prevent data loss.

Drupal Developer vs. Other CMS Developers: Key Differences

While all CMS developers share some common skills, Drupal developers often require a deeper and more specialized skill set.

Flexibility and Customization

  • Drupal: Known for its flexibility, allowing extensive customization and scalability. Ideal for complex, content-heavy sites.
  • WordPress: Easier to set up and use, but less flexible compared to Drupal. Best for simpler websites and blogs.
  • Joomla: Offers a middle ground between WordPress and Drupal, providing more out-of-the-box features than WordPress but not as complex as Drupal.

Development Approach

  • Drupal: Focuses heavily on structured data and taxonomy, requiring a more complex setup and understanding of the system’s architecture.
  • WordPress: Emphasizes simplicity and ease of use, with a large repository of themes and plugins for quick setup.
  • Joomla: Combines ease of use with flexibility, suitable for users who need more than WordPress offers but don’t require the full power of Drupal.

Community and Support

  • Drupal: Strong community support with a focus on collaboration, contributed modules, and extensive documentation.
  • WordPress: Largest community among CMS platforms, offering a vast array of themes, plugins, and resources.
  • Joomla: Active community with a good selection of extensions and templates, though smaller than WordPress.


  • Drupal: Known for its rigorous security standards, making it a preferred choice for government and enterprise sites.
  • WordPress: Security can be a concern due to its widespread use and the variety of plugins available. Proper maintenance and security practices are essential.
  • Joomla: Generally secure, but less frequently targeted than WordPress. Security depends on proper management and updates.

Best Practices for Drupal Development

Following best practices ensures that your Drupal site is secure, maintainable, and performs well.

Code Quality

  • Adhere to Standards: Follow Drupal coding standards for PHP, CSS, and JavaScript to ensure consistency and readability.
  • Documentation: Document your code thoroughly to make it easier for other developers (and your future self) to understand and maintain.


  • Regular Updates: Keep Drupal core and contributed modules up to date to protect against vulnerabilities.
  • Input Sanitization: Always sanitize user input to prevent security issues like SQL injection and XSS attacks.
  • Permissions: Configure user roles and permissions carefully to limit access to sensitive areas and functions.

Performance Optimization

  • Caching: Implement caching strategies using Drupal’s built-in caching mechanisms, Varnish, or a CDN to improve site performance.
  • Database Optimization: Optimize database queries and use indexing where necessary to enhance performance.
  • Image Optimization: Use tools and techniques to optimize images for faster loading times.


  • URL Structure: Use clean, descriptive URLs and the Pathauto module to generate SEO-friendly URLs automatically.
  • Meta Tags: Implement meta tags for better search engine visibility using modules like Metatag.
  • Mobile Optimization: Ensure your site is mobile-friendly and responsive to cater to a growing number of mobile users

User Experience:

  • Navigation: Design intuitive navigation to make it easy for users to find content.
  • Accessibility: Follow accessibility guidelines to ensure your site is usable by people with disabilities.
  • Content Strategy: Develop a clear content strategy to keep your site’s content organized and relevant.

The Future of Drupal Development: Trends and Innovations

Drupal development is continually evolving, with new trends and innovations shaping its future.

Headless Drupal

Headless or decoupled Drupal is becoming increasingly popular. It involves using Drupal as a backend content management system while delivering content via APIs to various front-end frameworks like React, Vue.js, or Angular. This approach offers greater flexibility and improved performance for dynamic, interactive web applications.

AI and Machine Learning

Integrating AI and machine learning into Drupal can enhance user experience through personalized content, chatbots, and advanced search capabilities. Modules like OpenAI and Apache Unomi are examples of how these technologies can be incorporated into Drupal.

Improved User Experience

The focus on user experience continues to grow. Enhancements in the admin interface, better content authoring tools, and more intuitive site-building experiences are key areas of development.

Enhanced Security

Security remains a top priority, with ongoing efforts to make Drupal even more secure. This includes better tools for managing updates, improved permissions systems, and continuous monitoring for vulnerabilities.

Multilingual and Globalization

As the internet becomes more global, Drupal’s multilingual capabilities are constantly being enhanced. Improved translation workflows and better support for right-to-left languages are some of the advancements in this area.

Integration with Emerging Technologies

Drupal is increasingly integrating with emerging technologies such as blockchain for enhanced security and transparency, the Internet of Things (IoT) for connected experiences, and virtual reality (VR) for immersive content.

How to Become a Certified Drupal Developer

Becoming a certified Drupal developer can boost your career by validating your skills and knowledge.

Certification Paths

  • Acquia Certified Developer: Acquia offers several levels of certification, from Developer to Master, covering different aspects of Drupal development.
  • Drupal Association Certification: The Drupal Association also offers certification programs to validate your expertise.

Preparing for Certification

  • Study Resources: Use official study guides, online courses, and Drupal documentation to prepare for the exams.
  • Hands-On Experience: Gain practical experience by working on Drupal projects, contributing to the community, and building your own modules and themes.
  • Practice Tests: Take practice tests to familiarize yourself with the exam format and identify areas where you need more study.

Benefits of Certification

  • Career Advancement: Certification can open up new job opportunities and potentially lead to higher salaries.
  • Professional Credibility: It demonstrates your commitment to the profession and your expertise in Drupal development.
  • Community Recognition: Being certified can increase your visibility and reputation within the Drupal community.