If you've never had to build or maintain a website for your business, web development, especially Drupal development, can be a giant wilderness of delegated options and requirements. Here at CommonPlaces, we think that Drupal building is a careful balance of module installation, theming, backend optimization, and configuration. The Internet may be filled with articles on Drupal features and best practices, but it can be difficult to gauge the effectiveness of one developer over another. Here's a helpful rundown of the design process, and what developers typically encounter during the construction and maintenance of your Drupal website.Drupal Words

Web Analysis

Every website starts as an idea. The analysis phase explores this idea and determines how it can reach its potential. Expert website developers quickly assess what can be done with it, and then provide a design approval or helpful feedback on possible changes.

Specifications Phase

When your idea is approved, an effective Drupal firm helps plan it out with:

  • A product perspective: This is the unifying concept for your website and the reason it exists.
  • Product features: How will a website meet its primary and secondary goals?
  • User classes and characteristics: One of Drupal's main strengths is user management. It's at this point that a client communicates how he or she would like to organize web traffic, and how the designer can adjust or optimize visitor navigation and interaction. Highly specialized sites, like niche communities and online universities, make full use of Drupal's role organization features.
  • Operating environment considerations: Browser and device compatibility, site accessibility (intranet vs. internet), and special permissions (like employee use of the site from home) are all important considerations that can be determined early on.
  • User documentation: New visitors will need instructions and a usually an FAQ page to ensure optimal use of the site. A good developer will get this information ahead of time and help balance it throughout the site.
  • Performance requirements: What is the maximum load time for a page? Does the website need responsive design in order to appear equally well on mobile and desktop devices? How many visitors can visit the site at a time before performance is impacted? These are all important issues to plan for, long before the first webpage is put into place.
  • Security and backup requirements: Custom Drupal website designs like What's What require elaborate permissions systems and other safeguards. A resourceful Drupal developer can combine several seemingly unrelated aspects of the platform into a highly focused and powerful website.
  • Data structure diagrams and flowcharts: When a complex business idea is submitted for translation into a website, it needs to be broken down into an equally complex but clearly presented plan that programmers can understand and easily implement during the design process.
  • An estimated timeframe: If your business is under a deadline to grow traffic online, a good developer will work with you to help you meet your deadline.

Building Your Site in Drupal

A good developer will help merge your vision of your website with Drupal's powerful customization options. Following this, although there are many other considerations before coding in Drupal can begin, once a solid company finishes preparations for its coders, proficiency in this platform will finally take center stage. Effective coders will make the most of Drupal's strengths -- custom content, structural flexibility, and user permissions and roles -- while encouraging use of the Drupal user interface, and maintaining satisfactory load times as more modules are added to the site's final structure.

Configuration, Conflict Prevention, Optimization

Many Drupal modules take a significant amount of time to configure to perfection. In the hands of an inferior developer, a minimally or otherwise poorly configured module can be worse than not having one. The same can be said for hastily chosen modules which conflict with others, push an installation over the memory limit, or aren't supported by Drupal core. It often takes an underlying understanding of the best module practices to build a site right the first time, and keep it going past pitfalls that force lesser developers to fail and quit. Competent developers also make use of tools like the DB Maintenance module, practices like CSS and JavaScript aggregation, and routine maintenance like eliminating outdated and unneeded content.

Website Updates & Maintenance

Service after the sale is critical for continued and effective use of a Drupal website. Improvements, especially security updates, will often require installed modules to be upgraded. In rare situations they may even be replaced. Upgrading modules can cause problems when other modules they depend on are no longer supported, or are incompatible with a recently updated Drupal core. Sometimes even routine module maintenance will require preventative steps that are out of a layman's reach. A skilled Drupal company will navigate these issues for you, keeping your online presence strong, operational, and uninterrupted.

So you see, when a digital agency integrates the ebb and flow of each web design task, it grows and protects each client's interests.

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