A great CMS for creating company websites is Drupal. It enables businesses to launch rapidly, create solid products, and iterate over time in accordance with market demands. Although it is suitable for large enterprise applications, it also enables businesses to establish tiny websites.
But how much does it cost to create a Drupal-powered website?
Well, that depends on what you hope to accomplish. Your goals and expectations will be very helpful in determining the price of the website.
Obviously, the cost will be significantly impacted by the size of the website you wish to develop. The greater the number of sections, components, features, functionalities, and connectors, the more time and money it will take to develop them all.
In the article on how to plan a website redesign, I discussed a method for obtaining requirements as well as what to do if the project ends up being too big.
Size and complexity are similar but distinct. Even if a website has numerous sections and features, the technology may be quite straightforward. These might all just be static pages that were added to the CMS and then presented in different ways.
But many websites are more intricate. There are several ways to approach the issue. For instance:
Complex editorial processes – There may be several different editorial flows on the website, each with roles and permissions. It takes time to implement the logic of distributing content to the appropriate employees in stages.
Multilingual – Multilingual websites typically take a little longer to set up and deploy. Fortunately, Drupal makes it simple to create fantastic multilingual websites, but they still demand extra work. The complexity increases by a factor of four when editorial workflows and multilingual requirements are combined.
External integrations – Drupal is excellent at interacting with external APIs and services, but each one needs to be set up and tested.
Smaller teams are typically less expensive, but larger projects obviously require a larger crew to complete in a fair amount of time. Things may cost extra if you don’t have much time. The marginal productivity of each developer decreases with the size of the team due to the necessity to coordinate and communicate.
- If you need a website that will take around 60 man-days to build, it can be done by 1 developer in 3 months.
- If you are in a hurry, you can work with 3 developers. 3 developers will have to coordinate and communicate and overall the time it takes to build will not be exactly 3 times shorter. It will take a bit more – say 1 month and a week (total of 75 working days).
- The tighter the deadline, the more people will be required. If in our example you hired a 6 developer team, they will not deliver the website in 2 weeks but more probably in 3 (90 working days), plus they will need a Project Manager to coordinate work (additional 15 days).
Willingness to adapt
With Drupal, a talented team can accomplish practically anything. Nevertheless, certain tasks require less time than others. The price goes down the more you choose to rely on what Drupal core and contributed modules offer.
Before authorizing them for development, it makes sense to validate the designs and specifications and refine them with a Drupal architect. Sometimes making modifications that are unnecessary from the standpoint of the end result can save a lot of development time.
Instead of building a custom website from scratch if you are beginning from scratch, it can make sense to select a pre-built solution for a set price. Several distributions of Drupal are available for creating commercial websites.
Agency vs Freelancer
As agencies are often more expensive than freelancers, they offer improved stability and predictability at a higher cost. But relying solely on one person without a back-up is even riskier. Finding a replacement or even acquiring access to work that has already been completed may be challenging if a freelancer is rendered unavailable for any reason. A larger staff and a well-managed agency do have a single point of failure.
There are a few things that affect the cost if you choose an agency. High-end firms with effective procedures and a history of successful projects will normally charge more than small, subpar businesses. I discussed how to pick the top Drupal agency in a blog post.
Location of the agency is important. Prices are normally greater in the United States than in Europe, and in Europe, there is a big disparity between companies with operations in Western Europe and those with offices in Central Europe.
Due to the total cost benefit, many businesses choose to work with Central European agencies where the same quality could be obtained for a substantially lower cost.
A top-tier Drupal agency from Central Europe will be considerably less expensive than a high-end agency and may only cost somewhat more than a freelancer in London. Although market forces are pushing Central European prices higher, the gap still exists, and many customers take advantage of it.
How are Drupal website costs calculated
Open Source refers to Drupal. This is fantastic because there are no additional fees for the license. The time it takes to launch a Drupal website is the only expense.
Drupal has a lot to offer. Additionally, a large number of contributed modules expand its functionality and help you develop a wide variety of things. However, certain tasks must be completed in order for your website to function:
- Drupal installation and setup – Drupal has to be installed and placed on a server. If you are building something more complicated, a staging environment will be required to test new features before deployment. Perhaps a continuous integration environment and automated tests if you expect to iterate a lot on your website.
- Selection of modules, installation and configuration – Drupal itself is like a framework. It allows you to do a lot but, out of the box, it is a fairly generic experience. Multiple modules have to be installed to enhance its functionality to the standard level expected from a business website these days. For example, SEO plugins (metatags, xml sitemap etc) have to be installed and configured.
- Building your custom pages – You will want to build custom pages to be able to present your content in the best possible way
- Design/Theme – If you are building a business website, you will need a custom design to represent your brand. Creating a design and theming drupal can often take quite a lot of time.
More complex projects will require additional elements and team members:
- Project management – To ensure a longer project is on track to deliver in time and budget, it is best to include a project manager in a team
- Quality assurance – Complex project can require a tester who will validate that what the development team creates, meets the requirements. A tester will ensure that the website works correctly on all browsers, devices and screen sizes
- DevOps – Complex projects may require a dedicated specialist to manage server architectures and deployment processes.
All that will require development time.
Drupal development costs vary by region
As discussed above, hourly rates vary by region. In 2020, these look more or less like this:
- USA: $80-$150
- Western Europe: $60-$100
- Eastern/Central Europe $40-$60
- Asia – Pacific – $25-$40
When the cost of a Drupal website is determined, the company will calculate the time it will take to deliver it, including all the overhead costs like project management and will multiply the time by the hourly or daily rate to come up with the price.
Some agencies add additional buffers to allow for risk, warranty periods etc.
As we discussed above, there are many factors which impact the time it will take to build a website (size, complexity, etc.) so there is no clear cut price for a Drupal website. There is a consensus however that:
- a small, simple website might take about 20+ man-days
- a medium, depending on complexity will require 40+ man-days
- bigger projects start from 100+
- large websites often require big teams spanning over multiple months
Now you know how to calculate the price of a Drupal website. It is not a very straightforward process, unfortunately.