Drupal Support: Everything You Need to Know
Definition: What is Drupal?
Drupal is open-source content management software (CMS) that has been used to build more than a million websites. From simple blogs to complex, high-traffic platforms, Drupal has gained popularity thanks to it’s highly customizable and flexible integrations, which enable users to design and build websites uniquely suited to their needs.
Drupal is also known for being a very secure platform—not only does Drupal have its own security team, but the wider community of users that rely on Drupal also consistently monitors its core code for vulnerabilities. Drupal’s reputation for security is so solid that government organizations use Drupal.
Overview: What Is Drupal Support?
Drupal Support is a service that companies can use to outsource the maintenance and management of their Drupal websites. Drupal Support is a good option for companies that don’t have large IT departments or that want to reserve their IT staff for more important projects, such as designing new products and services for their clients.
Having Drupal Support ensures that your website will be maintained and managed, avoiding the inconvenience and lost business that downtime can create. Drupal Support can also improve a website’s overall customer experience through proactive recommendations and changes.
What are the benefits of Drupal Support?
Drupal Support provides maintenance and management services that help companies maximize the return on their website investment.
Once the initial hurdle of deploying a Drupal website is behind you, managing the site becomes critical to ensuring that it’s consistently up to date and efficiently leveraging the latest Drupal capabilities. A Drupal Support provider will perform several basic management tasks, taking the burden off your internal IT team:
- Software Installation and Migration: Drupal is more complex than other CMS platforms and requires basic coding knowledge. If your site is new or if you want to move to a new hosting company, a Drupal Support provider can handle software installation or website migration.
- Customizable Solutions: Since Drupal is highly customizable, a support provider can manage your site and make the changes that meet your unique requirements. This could include a special plugin or interactive design.
- Functionality: In addition to specific pieces of content, you may need to add new features to your website, from image carousels to RSS feeds and more. Your Drupal Support provider can help by adding new functionalities, enhancing your website’s customer experience.
It’s natural to take website performance for granted when it’s working the way it should, but problems can arise if the site is not properly maintained. A Drupal Support provider will not only proactively perform and recommend necessary updates to keep your site running smoothly, but also execute any necessary repairs when problems arise.
Even if your team suspects that management may be something they can handle internally, maintenance presents a bigger challenge because it’s an ongoing, full-time task with potential periods of high-volume work when performance problems or breaches happen.
- Monitoring: No company wants to learn about a problem with its website through a customer; it makes you wonder how long the trouble has existed and if the business lost any customers in the process. A support provider will continuously monitor your website to ensure that it is performing correctly, both on the customer-facing side as well as on the backend, where dashboards and analytics tools need to work seamlessly to enable businesses to collect insight on how their website is running.
- Updates: CMS platforms release updates on a regular basis, but it’s easy to ignore the alert when you’re busy growing your business. Drupal Support providers know when to expect security updates and are aware of the most current breaches or concerning hacks. As patches to fix specific glitches or bugs become available and as Drupal releases new versions, the Drupal Support provider will automatically update your website to ensure that you have the latest security features. In addition, the provider can protect a targeted server or network from potential distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, a type of hack in which multiple compromised systems are infected with a Trojan virus.
- Backups: Your website has a lot of content that needs to be preserved. A Drupal Support provider will back up your files, pages, posts, plugins and images to ensure you can restore your website in the event that it becomes damaged or hacked. Backups should be done automatically on a set schedule, which a Drupal Support provider can help you organize.
- Performance: Slow websites can turn away customers. A Drupal Support provider will routinely check that your website is optimized for best practices and review it for recommendations. The provider may offer customized load tests based on your site’s unique requirements. If weaknesses or problems are discovered, adjustments can be made to keep your website operating at peak performance, such as updating infrastructure or increasing bandwidth.
- Repairs and Recovery: Error messages can be frustrating. A Drupal Support provider can get to the source of problems and make the necessary repairs to keep your website’s user experience a positive one for your customers. In the case that your website crashes or experiences a data breach, your provider can recover it based on the existing backups, re-secure it to prevent other attacks, and re-launch it quickly.
What Should I Look for in a Drupal Support Provider?
When you look for a Drupal Support provider, you’ll want to look for a company that adheres to a set of best practices to ensure you’re getting a high level of service. Here are some qualities and characterizations that demonstrate that a company is reputable.
- Expertise: Choose a support provider that understands Drupal and has worked with it in the past to provide the support and services a business needs. It’s best to look for a provider that offers Drupal as a specialty.
- Responsiveness: If you are contacting your Drupal Support provider it’s likely because you have an issue or a concern that you want addressed immediately. Look for a provider that offers support 24/7/365 through a variety of communication methods.
- Compliance: Security is an advantage of Drupal, so be sure that your support provider is well versed on your industry regulations. Confirm that the support provider understands FedRAMP, PCI DSS, and HIPAA regulations so it can support your applications and business requirements.
- Scalability: Make sure the support provider has the bandwidth to scale along with your business. You don’t want to have to change providers if your needs become more complex as you grow.
- Customization: Choose a Drupal Support provider that can help configure and customize applications to meet your business needs. This ensures that your company isn’t compromising on the full potential of available applications.
Do I really need a Drupal Support provider?
While it’s possible for you to do your own website maintenance and management, hiring a support service can enable your IT team to focus instead on growing your business and revenue. For example, if your dashboard is prompting you to download security updates, if you’re using an older version of Drupal, or if your bounce rate is high because your site speed is slow, a Drupal Support provider will remedy all of these situations. Drupal Support means offloading the preventative maintenance that can keep your site operational and your business growing.
What are different levels of support offered?
Many Drupal Support providers offer different types of support. Contegix, for example, offers two levels of Drupal Support: Concierge and Advisor. Concierge gives you access to best practices, standard monitoring and 24x7x365 support team to keep a site running reliably and securely. Advisor provides the same level of service as Concierge as well as designated engineers who are focused on continuously refining your solution. Both levels of support create a strategic partnership to help future proof your site while improving performance and security.
How do I know what level of support is best for me?
The level of support you choose should be based on the complexity of your website as well as the goals of your business for the future. If your website complements a physical location and serves as an information hub, your support needs may be best fulfilled with the Concierge level of support. Websites that are more complex or that require more features may be better served with the Advisor level of support.
What versions of Drupal are supported?
If you are using Drupal 6 or 7, your support provider should be able to still serve you. Your Drupal Support provider can also help migrate you to the latest version of Drupal (Drupal 8) to ensure you have the most up-to-date platform. The company announced that it will release Drupal 9 in June of 2020.
Do I have to change my web hosting to work with a Drupal Support provider?
No. While it’s a good idea to use the same company for your hosting and support, it’s not necessary.