Drupal Developers vs Drupal Consultants—Which Do You Need?

ArticleSeptember 18, 2018

You might be searching for a team of top-notch Drupal developers for your upcoming web project, but have you thought about whether or not you need Drupal consultants?

Probably not, although you should! Experienced Drupal consultants can often be the make-or-break ingredient for a successful project. So let’s dive in to explore the differences between Drupal developers and consultants to help you understand what kind of super Drupal team you need.

Drupal team

What kind of super team is right for you?

Similarities Between Drupal Consultants and Drupal Developers

Let’s get the obvious ones out the way. Of course, an expertise in Drupal is a must in either case, especially with Drupal 8. Any kind of Drupal pro worth his or her salt has seen a wide variety of implementations, and they know what to do and what not to do. You don’t want to pay for a learning curve.

Both Drupal developers and Drupal consultants also stay up to speed with the latest and greatest in terms of best practices, modules, and new features and bring a general expertise on all things Drupal.

Differences Between Drupal Consultants and Drupal Developers

Nick Fury is the guy who asks "why"

Nick Fury, leader of the Avengers, is the guy who asks "why"

So, how are they different? For starters, Drupal consultants are typically the most experienced senior developers, having seen all kinds of Drupal implementations through to the end. They have led development teams and are capable of the kinds of complex technical architecture required to keep projects from going off the rails. They are the ones you want on a project that is paving new ground, proving a concept or has massive implications for a business. Drupal consultants focus on the “why” to find the right solution to meet business goals.

The Avengers are the team that gets it done

The Avengers are the team that gets it done

That’s not to diminish Drupal developers, however, who focus on the “how.” Strong Drupal developers are experts at all the things needed to put a plan into action—site building, CSS, javascript, back-end development, QA, just to name a few. It’s no easy feat. These devs bring the adaptiveness and expertise necessary to deliver on time, and on budget. Stuff happens, and it’s often up to developers to find solutions in tough situations. They are problem solvers, through and through.

Here are some highlights to consider:

Drupal Developers

  • Expert code that is efficient, robust and flexible

  • Iterative problem solving

  • Coordination with design and content team for

  • Robust QA processes

  • Focus on the “how”

Drupal Consultants

  • High-level technical architecture and approach

  • Coordination across multiple development teams

  • Blend business and technical strategy

  • Ability to speak to C-Suite

  • Estimating/risk analysis on large-scale projects

  • Focus on the “why”

So Which Do I Need?

You’ve probably guessed by now that you need both expert Drupal developers and experienced Drupal consultants for the best possible outcome. This is often why overseas development fails. A lack of asking “why” results in an ineffective-but-built-to-spec product that technically works (hopefully) but is ultimately not successful. Likewise, inexperienced Drupal developers who cannot improvise, adapt and solve problems cannot turn out a great product from specs, no matter how complete they might seem.

What Should I Look For?

Whether you are looking for Drupal developers or consultants, experience is the greatest indicator of a true Drupal pro, although certifications certainly help. When evaluating Drupal developers or Drupal consultants, it’s important to make sure they have the following:

  • Experience in Drupal 7 if your project is migrating from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8

  • Certification in site building, front-end or backend Drupal development through Acquia (culminating in the coveted “Grandmaster” status)

  • Competent in module development to both create new modules, or patch/update existing modules necessary for a project

  • Experience with content migration processes, both programmatic and manual, to help support a site build.

  • Familiarity in headless Drupal development

  • Hands-on work with front-end frameworks such as React, Vue, or Angular

  • Heavy integration experience with best-in-breed and legacy systems

If you are interested in learning more about Drupal development services or Drupal consulting, contact us today.

Judd Mercer
Written By
Judd Mercer Creative Director

A dot-bom survivor, Judd learned the trade of a designer as a high school intern and has been doing it ever since. Expanding into design strategy, copywriting, architecture and analytics over 15 years, he’s evolved into a strategic design leader with the ability to think big and go wide.