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Drupal Development: The Complete Guide to Getting Started

Aug 18, 2020

5 min read

Integral to any business plan is building a brand. A brand is not really a concrete entity, but it does stand for what you believe in and delineates through what means your business represents that. 

While you can make that information known from shouting it from the rooftops, websites have typically served that purpose well. 

Fortunately, platforms like Drupal are built to simplify the entire web development process. That is if you have the right developers. 

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What Is Drupal?

Drupal is a free, open-source content management framework written in PHP. Though the official Drupal website calls Drupal a content management system (CMS), it should not be compared to traditional content management systems like WordPress

A CMS is a software tool where users can work directly with the user interface of their website without having any intrinsic programming knowledge. They also don’t need to pay particular attention to back-end development, as a CMS will handle that as well. 

When it comes to Drupal, however, many users will argue that it is not a CMS at all. It is rather a framework where you can build a CMS to manage your website needs.

As Drupal is a framework, Drupal developers work closely with the software itself and should have an in-depth understanding of programming, as opposed to any ordinary CMS. 

This welcomes more autonomy than a CMS can usually bring to the table. For Drupal users who aren’t software developers, this can be cumbersome. For bonafide web developers, Drupal can be a refreshing software.

What Drupal shares in common with a classic CMS is that developers can add and remove modules easily and access themes to change the overall look and feel of a website. 

This modularity is the primary reason why developers might use Drupal over other web development frameworks. 

What Is a Drupal Developer?

Drupal developers are essentially PHP developers who can write custom modules, automated tests, schedule deployments, and more. These developers should be highly familiar with server-side scripting as a paradigm. 

With adequate knowledge of PHP, Drupal developers can either do a fresh Drupal install or use one of the many Drupal Distributions available to them and mold it to your business’s brand.

Why Use Drupal?

Drupal has a couple of characteristics that make it stand out among other content management systems. Together, these characteristics are the foundation of a fully-featured framework. 


Drupal is open-source which almost by definition means there is a big community of Drupal developers willing to help one other. This takes place in two aspects: advice-seeking and availability of resources. 

In the fashion of any community-oriented framework, Drupal developers and business managers have many forums and conferences to look for collaboration and seek advice from fellow developers. 

That same community is a hub for dedicated contributors who create useful and well-functioning modules to aid in your project’s development. 

This is major because in the most powerful CMS’s you’re normally responsible for paying for important features. Open-source communities don’t abide by the same rules, nor do they want to. 


The Drupal framework is robust with the tools you need if you were to ever build something a bit more advanced. Modifying the system to these purposes is intentionally built into the Drupal framework. 

This is why Drupal is considered to be the most flexible CMS, with modules that make for high scalability. You can customize your website to your taste, and efficiently at that. 

Advantages of Using Drupal

Any con of Drupal is associated with the fact that it is not a true CMS, at least according to some WordPress devotees. The final choice is up to you, but keep in mind that many of the setbacks of Drupal are actually great advantages when it comes to building a unique website.


Admittedly, using Drupal won’t be as easy as using a traditional CMS like WordPress. That said, it will be easier than building something completely from scratch. 

If you hire a professional with technical experience Drupal can provide the best of both worlds: a) a CMS-like platform that simplifies your web development needs and b) a framework to make your website truly original. 


Drupal is designed for custom development. Their modules are free and totally functional. They can also be modified to your liking. If you want something that is scalable, Drupal also has the capacity to work with voluminous and complex projects, unlike a traditional CMS. 


Because of Drupal’s complexity, it offers more advanced functionality. Taxonomies, content types, blocks, views, and more are all Drupal features. There is a learning curve, but your investment won’t be in vain.


With Drupal, you'll experience enterprise-grade security with detailed security reports. Open-source software tends to be more secure than proprietary software. Programmers collaborate to find errors and vulnerabilities and fix them as soon as possible.


All these justifications for using Drupal is precisely why some of the most trusted websites on the web use Drupal. This usage extends to official government websites hosted for The White House, the U. S. Department of Commerce, and the governments of Bermuda, France, and South Africa.

Websites That Use Drupal

  • Whole Foods
  • Timex
  • Nokia
  • Telsa Motors
  • Harvard
  • Syfy

Reasons to Hire a Drupal Developer

You’ve heard enough Drupal and WordPress comparisons to get the gist of the idea. If your goal is ultimate flexibility and customizability for your website, go with Drupal.

Of course, it won’t be easy. Using Drupal to its best ability requires a qualified Drupal developer. This way, you have somebody on the team to create modules as necessary and manage any pre-existing modules that can be of use.

How to hire a Drupal developer?

For those who wish to take the high road and hire Drupal developers on your own, we’re still here to help. 

Hiring a developer on your own is a very focused and hands-on process that requires considerable knowledge about software development in general.

The last thing you want to do is trust your hiring process to someone with no technical ability. If you are a non-technical manager looking to learn a thing or two, we have a great resource here for you to learn more about the hiring process in detail

Otherwise, we’d recommend you contact Trio for consulting and developer allocation.

What should you look for in a Drupal developer?

Drupal developers at a high-level should meet the following criteria:

  • Experienced PHP developers familiar with server-side scripting
  • Can demonstrate expertise in other web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML
  • Has a full grasp of implementing Drupal modules whether that be installing or modifying them
  • Mastery of Drupal security features
  • In-depth knowledge of base web development concepts

How much do developers cost in the U.S.?

In the United States, a Drupal developer can expect an annual salary of $103,365 based on ZipRecruiter averages. Data on the whole shows yearly incomes ranging from $51,000 to $155,500. 


How much do developers cost in South America? 

Due to economic differences between the United States and South America as a whole, the cost of offshoring software development is significantly lower than hiring full-time with U.S talent. For Senior Drupal Developers in South America, the average salary is currently around $100,000 whereas a mid-level developer costs around $76,000. 

How much do developers cost in Ukraine / Eastern Europe?

Eastern Europe shares very similar rates to South America, again due to the economic differences. When looking at salaries in Eastern Europe, data shows that a Senior Drupal Developer costs around $100,000 on average. 

Hourly Rates for Developers

Another way to look at developer costs is through hourly rates. While salaries are good to understand for hiring developers for full-time and long-term, you might just need a developer for a period of 3-6 months or 6-12 months. In these types of situations, it’s best to calculate your costs based on the hourly rates of a developer. 

Below is a table that lists the various hourly rates of developers in different locations based on their job title. 


Why Hire a Drupal Developer?

Trio Drupal developers are pre-vetted, interviewed, and then trained further to become true software professionals, capable of adapting to situations that are both within and outside of the scope of their general expertise. 

At Trio, we hold our developers to a higher standard. Much like how elite special forces units recruit only the best from main branches of the military, we recruit developers who either show amazing potential or demonstrate exceptional skill. We then take their talents and sharpen them even further.

Another benefit of hiring a Trio developer is that you won’t incur the costs of hiring, which can add up to be around 30% of a developer’s salary on average, as well as overhead costs associated with full-time employment.

By working with Trio, you can enjoy a highly experienced full-time developer for a fraction of the cost, along with the added project management assistance. 

Trio offers unparalleled software wisdom and access to South American developers. Meet our elite Mexican developers, Colombian developers, and Brazilian developers for outsourcing excellence.

To learn more, tell us about your project and we’ll get you started. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is PHP?

PHP is a general-purpose, server-side scripting language. You can embed it into HTML. And it is widely popular amongst web developers.

Do I need to know PHP to use Drupal?

Yes. Like mentioned, knowing PHP will be helpful if you – or your developers – wish to make your own modules.

Is Drupal better than WordPress?

Only you can decide what’s right for your business. WordPress is better suited for non-technical website managers. Its disadvantage is that you do not have the same ability as Drupal to manage large volumes of content. In Drupal, you’ll need a developer for module installments and updates.


Is Drupal front-end or back-end?

Drupal can be used for both front-end and back-end development. However, front-end developers have expressed frustrations working with Drupal and thus some clients opt to use Drupal as a headless CMS. This means that the front-end and back-end are disconnected so users can focus on back-end development.


Why isn't Drupal popular?

Drupal taking the middle-ground between framework and CMS may be the reason why Drupal is not as popular as it could be. These days people are transitioning to using JavaScript, specifically React, for full-stack web development. But this does not mean Drupal isn’t useful for businesses that need something a bit more technical than WordPress but don’t want a conventional web framework.

Author avatar

Daniel Alcanja

Daniel is a software engineer and co-founder of Trio, a successful startup empowering remote senior software engineers and partnering with companies to solve everyday problems through technology. With over two decades of experience in the industry, Daniel is a dynamic and strategic leader committed to driving growth and positive change.

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