Small Business & Drupal

Small Business & Drupal

Small businesses are key to the national and global economy’s well-being. They are responsible for the diversity of the private sector and offer consumers a healthy range of options. Most importantly, though, small businesses offer ordinary individuals the ability to control their own destiny.

The same ingredients that can make small businesses great - small teams, thrift, creativity, ingenuity - often put them at a disadvantage for a lack of resources. Thus, they are creative in choosing unique tools to help them achieve success. Drupal is often one of these tools. Between its flexibility and its power, it provides any small business with a wealth of digital potential.

The U.S. Small Business Model

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, an astounding 99.7% of businesses in the United States economy are small businesses. If that doesn’t prove their importance, they were also responsible for 64% of new private sector jobs between 2002 and 2010. Since then, that number has only increased. This data includes individual businesses, businesses run from residences, or slightly bigger corporations that have fewer than 500 employees.

Diminishing the Importance of ‘Small’

Small businesses do not have as many resources as major corporations. A natural part of starting a new business is making due with small staff and limited funds.

Luckily, Drupal is accommodating. Drupal does not require much technical knowledge or expertise. Creating a site is even possible using Drupal without being an expert web developer. Anyone is able to take advantage of this development without having to pay for it. Other people with the necessary skills have likely already created a distribution that solves a new business's needs and made it publicly available.

A small business will not have to use a large amount of resources for Drupal maintenance. It is not required on a regular basis and even when it is, it does not require more than a couple of updates. The occasional migration to a new version of Drupal would not be required often; that said, not having any major updates would be detrimental to any website.

Drupal Fits with Small Business

Drupal is very much in line with a small business mindset - it is extensible, flexible, and scalable. Using a service as extensible as Drupal is important for any small business. When creating a website, a small business is planning for the future. A Drupal site would be able to accommodate such plans and be able to adapt easily to any changes. The same is not true for many other services. For example, adding e-commerce down the road would always be possible.

The flexibility that Drupal offers small business is worth highlighting in two regards. First, the extent of distinct types of businesses that use Drupal are innumerable. That Drupal can be molded to the many different needs of these business is remarkable and reveals yet another benefit of this framework.

Second, within a single business, a website needs to be able to be easily modified. This need is especially true for a rapidly evolving and growing small business. Administrators might want to select different projects to feature or update a portfolio. Anyone that has used Drupal knows how quick and easy it is to modify pages and content.

Scalability is another strength of Drupal. Not only can Drupal fit a company’s current needs, but it promises the ability to expand alongside the company. A business can establish a very simple website, only to go back a year later to make it complex and full-featured. For example, if the business grows significantly, there are modules like Boost, which help with site traffic.

The Drupal Community

With an active community behind Drupal, a business can rest assured that many developers will have expertise in solving technical challenges. Various help forums, boards, and issue pages exist for this exact reason. A Small Business Drupal Groups page even exists specifically for small businesses! Drupal users and developers are devoted to the product and go out of their way to regularly post replies and encourage participation.

Beyond the online community, Drupal enthusiasts also love to host meet-ups, conferences and camps. These can usually be found through the Drupal Groups site. One example is the NYC Camp in mid-July that features Drupal training, speeches, workshops, and more. A small business owner or developer could go to this event and learn a ton about Drupal. Smaller regional meet-ups also exist in various locations around the world such as Paris, Liberia, and Honduras.

Marketing and SEO

A website is a business’s marketing tool to promote their message to potential clients or customers. Drupal helps small businesses here too. With Drupal, development of the entire website does not have to take long. Furthermore, adding or updating content on the website is quick-and-easy.

Search-engine-optimization is also an important factor for a small business. Any business must be easily found online. Right out of the box Drupal has optimization built in. Great modules likePathauto and Global Redirect have been developed to make it even better with limited effort. For small businesses that don’t have expertise in SEO, Drupal provides them with the knowledge and tools to get higher rankings.

Drupal Offers Modern Featured Websites

What makes a website truly modern can vary from person to person. However, Drupal is kept up to date on the latest best practices in web development; including documentation and secure code. Cybersecurity is increasingly cited as an issue amongst big and small businesses.

Because Drupal is open source, countless developers are constantly testing its defenses against attacks. Its security among content managers is evident in the base of government and e-commerce clients who have chosen this framework. Drupal’s extensive permissions administration menu also allows customization for what users can and cannot do. As a small business grows and additional users gain access, this granular level of control over permissions can be very helpful for internal security.

Drupal’s internationalization is also a modern feature that benefits small businesses who target a multilingual audience. Depending on the location and type of small business, multiple languages could be a very relevant feature. As an example, Nothing Interactive listed this feature as a key reason they chose to develop in Drupal after leaving their old framework.

Finally, responsive design is the big new web trend. Drupal offers many themes that include a variety of responsive choices. Responsive websites will be helpful as mobile devices become more and more popular. No longer can owners assume customers browse the internet on their full-sized computers. By no means is a mobile website required; but the fact that mobile support exists in Drupal lends further to the argument for its extensibility.

Drupal Small Business Modules

A small businesses's choice of modules will depend largely on the required features of the website. An artistic or creative business may require image management, whereas a financial consulting business may want to show tables and charts of data in an organized fashion.

Some general modules that are used by a wide audience include Mime Mail, Location, andCaptcha. Mime Mail allows for themed HTML emails to be sent out. Newsletters, customer emails, or special offers can look more professional by using images, HTML, and your sites theme files to style them. Location and GMap can be helpful for a website that uses maps for events or office locations. Captcha is a popular verifier of forms that has its own Drupal module. This verification can help prevent spam and malicious activity.

Pathauto and Global Redirect were mentioned earlier, but using the Google Analytics module is also helpful for SEO purposes and for small business owners to monitor web traffic. Some other helpful SEO modules have also been developed by the Drupal community.

If s small business is concerned with images, Colorbox, Lightbox2, and Galleria are all useful modules to try. Galleria allows the use of custom galleries in which to display images nicely.Colorbox and Lightbox provide the ability to overlay images above the page rather than showing them all on the page. This functionality provides users with a nice way to browse images and also saves the developer time producing an image gallery.

Drupal Business Installation Profiles

Some themes, such as Conch and the Business Responsive Theme, offer responsive theming solutions for businesses. However, a few installation profiles also exist for small businesses to look into if they have limited technology resources.

The One Page CV profile is being actively developed to include more features. However, it already includes relevant parts of the page, including about, featured projects and contact sections. It also has temporary content so that the user has somewhere to start. Single-paged websites are not for every business, but they can be a great choice for a business just starting out on a very tight budget.

Friendly Machine also offers responsive themes that are included in installation profiles. They come with important contributed modules, but additionally provide their customers with support and training tutorials with the download. This ability makes for a useful tool for businesses without technology employees on staff.

All Businesses Alike

Drupal is a tool used by professionals in all levels and sectors. Realtors, contractors,architectural firms, and more may all use Drupal to fulfill their unique business needs. Powerful and open-source tools like Drupal empower small businesses to grow and reach their full potential.