taking on existing Drupal sites

It's not unusual for us to pick up clients who already have Drupal sites. They may have had an in-house developer who has moved on. They may have lost contact with the freelance developer who built their site.  The agency they have been using might have gone out of business or stopped developing in Drupal. Or they may just have been unhappy with the service that they been getting. In that last example the site may not even have been launched.

It's difficult to know whether we can support a business with an existing Drupal site without having a good look at it first. 

We've taken on some websites which have clearly been built by very talented PHP developers. However it's often been clear that those developers didn't really have a wide enough knowledge of the Drupal ecosystem. The evidence here is always in the amount of custom code that is being used to code a solution over and above a contributed approach.

So before we take on a website we get our potential new client to sign up to a six point health check.

We set up the health check because at miggle, we believe in our clients’ freedom to operate, providing them with tools and services that allow them to be as self-sufficient as they wish to be. We understand that our client’s websites are the life-blood of their operations and how vital it is to have a website running smoothly. The health check allows us to gain an understanding of how a site has been built allowing us to determine whether or not it is a site we could maintain.

To ensure that the process is as seamless as possible, we setup a separate environment, duplicating your website, before we perform any checks so that our tests won’t impact the performance of your site.

The six points we cover are:-

security

To achieve the a high standard of security it is imperative that the Drupal updates are and can be applied. We check whether or not your site is meeting Drupal’s standards for security by reviewing any outstanding security upgrades to Drupal core and contributed (contrib) modules. We also check that there aren’t any ‘hacks’ to Drupal core or contrib modules compared to version available on Drupal.org.

performance

Having a well performing site allows you to effectively display content quickly and efficiently to your users. We check to see that caching has been enabled and is working effectively throughout the site. We check page load times to verify there aren’t any missing or slow loading assets (CSS, JS or images). We see if any third party caching services are running.

conformity

Conforming to web standards allows for a site to display consistently across multiple browser and allows for multiple developers to seamlessly work on the site. We check that the site meets the W3C, Google Page Speed, and Google Mobile- Friendly Test standards. We verify the code within the theme and any custom coded modules conforms to the Drupal 7 coding standards.

extensibility

By adopting a contrib first methodology and using reputable contrib modules your site’s functionality can be extended easily by Drupal developers. We review custom coded modules to ensure they aren’t replicating functionality that is available in contrib modules. We also check that contrib modules have a good reputation.

content and structure

Having an effective content editorial process and structure allows content editor and developers to operate freely of each other.

We review content types, fields, taxonomies, roles, configurations and overall information architecture (IA) to verify proper site building techniques have been used and that the site has a logical and efficient content structure.

We review user roles and permissions to ascertain that a workable and sensible user hierarchy exists, with appropriate permissions assigned to each role.

We run an appraisal of how effectively the site is able to be content managed (i.e. use of WYSIWYGs, effective use of content types, views, blocks etc.)

maintainability

It’s key that any new features and code for your site can be deployed in a repeatable and recoverable way. We check if a version control system (VCS) is being utilised. We check if the site has been developed with code driven development (CDD) techniques. We review deployment processes in addition to any testing that has been implemented. This will allow us to determine if your current deployment workflow is compatible with our preferred approach or if we would need to complete additional steps to manage releases, or to bring your site into our workflow.

findings

Following the tests, we will send you a detailed written, scored report highlighting any areas that we deem to be problematic or that have the potential to be problematic in the future.

Finally we provide an overview as to how we’d look to take responsibility for the on-going health, development, support and maintenance of your site. This includes an outline of any potential blockers to the miggle workflow, clear deviations from Drupal standards and outline any changes that would have to be carried before miggle could support your site.
 

If you want to take back control of your web sites and applications then get in touch with miggle to see how we can deliver operational freedom for you in Drupal.