September 19, 2016
Part two of our table talk! This week the agency owners of Achieve Internet, Stauffer, ActiveLAMP and Facet Interactive discuss the who is Drupal right for.
Ron Huber: It does go back to what Dries said earlier this year, about who adopts Drupal, right. I mean, they’re truly ambitious web projects. We don’t do a lot of medium or small size businesses -so I’m probably not the one to comment on this- but I’m not sure that even my company should be using Drupal, if it weren’t that we were a Drupal company. Right? It is an investment that you really want to take if you’re going to take on a big, ambitious project and do something spectacular on the web.
Jordan Ryan: It is. I think that something that we’re going to see, at least at the crossroads of Drupal, is that there is going to be an opportunity to bring this very rich content architecture and interconnect it with more content services and more displays of that content across all of these different interfaces. That’s, I think, the opportunity that Drupal has, as long as it keeps staying there. I mean, small businesses are going to say, “Ah, you know, if I do a WordPress site, is it going to hook up to my app? Is it going to hook up to point-of-sale system? Do I have to have all this stuff in all these separate locations? Or can I just …?” You know, as a small business owner, can I just have that little turnkey app that connects with everything? I think that Drupal, especially with RESTful services and GraphQL is going to keep moving in that direction.
Ron Huber: True.
Chris Stauffer: Unless you’re like a pure play company, though, that’s specifically making a content play. I think Drupal might honestly be even a little bit overkill for some small businesses. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve drunk the Drupal Kool-Aid, and I’m drunk on it. If you’re a site that’s a small business, I’ve actually had more success with WordPress. Like a $10K site or a $15K site, that’s way more WordPressy. For me, I’ve kind of stopped selling Drupal to small businesses, because I can’t figure out how to give them the ROI that they need. Whereas, a small business can get a good ROI on WordPress. I can’t seem to get a $20K project done well in Drupal; whereas, 20K in WordPress, you’ll get a $#@!-load of stuff. Whereas $20K in Drupal, you’re not going to get as much cool stuff. You know what I mean? When you start moving … You said earlier that you can plug into a lot of different things. I think that is where Drupal starts to become a lot better, when you start getting to that enterprise market that needs 80 different things hooked into it. Those larger enterprise organizations … Yeah, Drupal is the greatest thing ever when it comes to that. I’ve got to be honest. I used to sell small businesses Drupal. I stopped, because I can’t figure out how to make those projects profitable.
Jordan Ryan: And when we push marketing, we don’t really push Drupal either. It’s when there’s an opportunity for some kind of stronger digital strategy that needs to have… either we say, “Okay, within a year you’re doing XY&Z, and you’re going to need to be there.” If you’re carrying around your website … It’s just a business card you pull out of your pocket and say, “Hey, check me out.”
Chris Stauffer: That’s WordPress.
Ron Huber: If you’re looking for a platform, and you’ve got a lot of third-party integration. You have a lot of hooks, etc. We were talking earlier about other technologies, and I think this is where part of this conversation started. We’re, as a company, branching off. Drupal is something that we do really well. We’ve been doing it for 10 years. We’re going to continue doing it, but we’re adding other technologies. We are looking, because we’re now more of a market player. We do more in the healthcare business than we do in the Drupal business.
Jordan Ryan: Sell solutions.
Ron Huber: Solutions, right. We’ve added the JAVAs and the JSONs, and all these things that we have to add for our clients that are looking for more from a software developer than a Drupal developer. Right? I hear a lot of shops doing that.
Tom Friedhof: We’ve found ourselves getting off the island, as they say. We were primarily a Drupal shop when we started ActiveLAMP. Now, we’re doing Symfony, Laravel, and Node. This is where I think it’s super valuable with the direction that Drupal 8 is going, is the fact that now I can put my Symfony developers on Drupal projects, because they don’t have to learn this … I mean, Drupal 7 is great, but they don’t have to learn this Drupal 7 thing.
Chris Stauffer: Do you have a lot of Symfony guys that hadn’t touched Drupal?
Tom Friedhof: That’s correct, yeah. We have Symfony developers on staff that now we’re comfortable putting on Drupal projects.
Jordan Ryan: Because Laravel?
Tom Friedhof: They come from Symfony and Laravel, that’s correct. It’s all the design patterns.
Ron Huber: That’s good for us all, right? Now we’re expanding, and we’re offering other services, and it’s going to help our clients, and we’re going to use Drupal where Drupal should be used. That’s the key.
Jordan Ryan: I think there’s a strategy too … For the Drupal community at least … I heard in the keynote earlier today, presenting Drupal as this solution for content architecture, right. There are all these other rich applications that can key into it. Also with the enriched developer experience, you have many more opportunities to bring people in who are working in other frameworks, right. There’s a general maturity of open source ecosystem now. I think Dries posted an article a few weeks ago from TechCrunch. It was talking about how all of these open source communities are starting to mature as professional services are developing around them. You see all these … You know, MongoDB, Drupal, and there’s this arc of adoption for the enterprises that kind of slowly have moved into this space. There’s going to be a new wave of even more open-source softwares, based off of Symfony, Mautic, the open source marketing automation tool we use is based off of Symfony. It just reached version 2.0. I think it’s just going to gain on the market share for marketing automation.
Ron Huber: I still see Drupal as being the Switzerland of it all, right. It sort of fits in the middle there and plays nice with everything. That’s what makes it so powerful, right? You can write another application somewhere, and integrate it into Drupal very easily.
Jordan Ryan: Where else does it make sense to really invest a lot of processing power into a central location or to handle all your business operations?
Ron Huber: They want to own it all, right?
Jordan Ryan: Right.
Ron Huber: Every other piece wants to own it. They want to have all the access. They want to have all the control over the users. That’s the one thing that allows Drupal to keep on expanding, is that we own some of it, we can do some of it. Maybe it’s just Drupal sitting next to a Salesforce application, because we’re just going to use it for content. We can make it look like Salesforce, we can integrate it no problem, and everybody on the internal project has no idea. They think they’re in their application, because Drupal plays nice. That’s a powerful tool.
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