My go-to analogy for building websites is building houses. For both, you need a solid foundation and adherance to conventions. Choices in the design process need to be finalized before construction begins, and modifications extend the build time. Similarly, houses require occasional maintenance. Security and accessibility are big concerns for both. The list goes on.
There are many, many ways to build a house, and just as many ways to build websites, if not more. Imagine a plumber coming into your house to fix a toilet, and discovering the toilet flushes to a pipe that just goes through the nearest exterior wall. Not very nice… Web developers find similarly poorly executed builds all the time. It’s important to hire Drupal developers who will build your site conventionally and maintainably.
Here are 8 habits of great Drupal developers:
Drush is not only a huge convenience, but it will keep the modules you use common on all sites you build with it. Don’t forget to give the recipe a once-over so you don’t install modules you know you won’t need.
Pick a great theme and stick with it
Keep contributed and custom modules seperate.
This will help you and other developers keep modules straight.
Use these modules
- Views create customized lists of content as pages/blocks
- CCK add custom fields to your node types
- ImageCache resize images on the fly
- Token makes tokenized variables available to other modules (like PathAuto)
- PathAuto automatically create URL aliases from custom rules you specify
- PoorMansCron automatically run cron at specified intervals (no coding required)
- WebForm create custom forms (with data storage and email delivery) without code
- Devel adds some awesome development tools to your install
- Admin adds a gorgeous admin theme and some handy inline editing links for blocks/menus
Keep it up to date!
This goes for Drupal core and modules. There’s a reason people pour their efforts into updates: if you ignore them, you aren’t getting the most out of Drupal. And don’t get me started on security updates… If you ignore those, it’s possible your Drupal site could become not your Drupal site…
Don’t be afraid of re-writing
Conventions change. New modules come out and make others inferior. New versions of Drupal come out and you don’t want to be left behind. I wish I could say that updating major Drupal versions (i.e. from 6 to 7) was easy, but it’s not.
Drush and the other modules mentioned here can make re-writing a lot less daunting than you imagine. And just think of all the things you could fix properly and permanently by starting fresh!
Never stop asking questions
I always say half of any good developer is Google. Stack Exchange, Drupal Support and Drupal Answers will almost certainly have the answer to any question you could ask about Drupal development. Learn how to ask, and given a bit of time, you will be as much an expert as others.
Drupalize.me is considered a valuble resource by some, but I’m under the impression the answers are too watered down and strewn throughout long videos to be a go-to resource. But you might want to check for yourself to see if you like it.
Go to local Drupal developer meetups! Go to conferences! Produce your own modules and contribute to others! With how much effort from others your Drupal site uses, it’s common courtesy to give back. What you learn in doing so will be worthwhile by itself.
Planning a website redesign with Drupal? How about downloading our free 10-Step Website Redesign Checklist?