How to Choose the Right Drupal Modules for Your Website

By Elizabeth Clor

Drupal rocketed from a pet project at the University of Antwerp to global notoriety due, in large part, to the foundational opportunity for members of the developer community to download and create site plugins, tools, APIs and other features designed to complement Drupal’s fully open-sourced core modules. Since then, Drupal has seen extensive growth, now offering core site features, tools, and integrations that span web hosting capabilities, such as calendars or social media sharing buttons, with interchangeable functionality.

Whether the chief goal is SEO-powered traffic or a smooth user experience, sites that look to Drupal modules will benefit from the platform’s functionality, interoperability and security—as long as they prioritize compatibility.

Where to Start

A module is a function that extends and enhances Drupal’s web hosting capabilities. For example, email management is not included as one of Drupal's core site features, but it can be acquired as an add-on module delivered by the Drupal community.

Drupal web hosting comes with the ability to incorporate several core modules into sites available for free—which might overwhelm potential takers or distract them from choosing successful combinations. So, when assessing the selection of Drupal modules, consider which of the modules qualify as must-haves (ex. search module) and try to focus on integrating those into site infrastructure in the most compatible way. A handful of seemingly necessary modules will actually be nice-to-haves (ex. email management) for site architects.

What to Keep in Mind

In addition to the 60 core modules Drupal offers for free, it’s important to know that sites with more complex infrastructure, such as e-commerce platforms built to showcase searchable inventories or customer feedback-oriented pages spanning industries from car buying to medical care, may require additional plugins and extensions to meet the goals of their site architects. Depending on the case, the process of locating and integrating add-ons compatible with Drupal core modules can be time consuming and distract from other web hosting priorities, such as establishing ironclad security protocols and developing digital customer service options, that need to be integrated and tested en route to launching or improving a site.

Drupal allows third party developers to build additional modules, such as EU Cookie Compliance, that may create as many problems as they solve—which may surprise people looking for seamless open source capabilities. Some third party modules can actually slow down or crash sites depending on how compatible they are with Drupal tools and other plugins powering user experiences. That said, third party modules, such as Webform and Chaos Tool Suite, enhance site offerings in ways that build on existing benefits provided by Drupal core modules and offer flexibility to site architects. In most cases, it pays to figure out whether or not a module is Drupal-built prior to selecting it.

Finding the right combination of Drupal modules requires understanding the capabilities of a specific site and the functionality site managers look for in tools needed to complement them.

For more information about how Contegix works with clients to power sites with Drupal modules, visit: Drupal Solutions.