In an in-depth interview with Tom Fitzgibbons, Managing Director of Zoocha, Drupal development specialists, we discuss the future of Drupal, what open source offers companies and the future of business in the digital world.
Zoocha are a technical digital agency founded 11 years ago with the aim to provide digital solutions to companies worldwide using the content management system (CMS), Drupal. Drupal, as mentioned in a previous article (found here), is an open source CMS which roughly 1.5% of all websites use. Zoocha are one of the most accredited Drupal developers in the UK, with Drupal ‘grandmasters’ in both Drupal 7 and 8. With over 65 staff in Hertford, Valencia, Balneário Camboriú (Brazil) and Richmond VA, Zoocha are a worldwide company looking to improve customers digital solutions.
Zoocha have used Drupal from the beginning. Mr Fitzgibbons explained that this decision was not taken lightly with over a year of deliberating and testing open source CMSs, the founders decided that Drupal was what they were going to focus on. This was then reaffirmed when the company took the route of focussing solely on Drupal development, wanting to be experts in this field rather than a ‘jack of all trades developer’. This focus enabled Zoocha to concentrate on acquiring the talent that pushed them to the forefront of Drupal development in the UK.
The open source nature of Drupal is something that is really beneficial to both Zoocha and their clients. One of the important factors is that there is no licensing, meaning that clients are able to save money while having a website which is as functional and secure. Furthermore, Zoocha are able to tap into the resources that thousands if not millions of developers worldwide have published for Drupal, allowing focus to be on the personalisation of the website, rather than its foundations. Moreover, the inherent security of Drupal gives Zoocha and their clients peace of mind. This is because thousands of developers worldwide analyse the source code, leading to monthly updates.
In terms of the benefits of Drupal for business as compared with WordPress (a similarly open source CMS with 38.2% of all websites run on), Fitzgibbons emphasised that Drupal is more scalable. Drupal allows the creation of a more custom and complex website which can be multi-lingual, with multiple currencies. This makes for a more complex task in WordPress. As Fitzgibbons puts it, websites often move from WordPress to Drupal, yet rarely move in the other direction. This demonstrates the ability of Drupal to reflect your business’s growth digitally.
As an organisation who understands the importance of giving back, the open source nature of Drupal allows Zoocha and their employees to contribute to the Drupal project, letting others use the code they have created to further their own projects. This giving back is a key element of Zoocha’s ethos which is centred on being part of a collective and helping each other out. Zoocha extends this ethos throughout their business model. Fitzgibbons reiterated that Zoocha’s main USP is their people. As many companies look to digitise, Fitzgibbons emphasised that the reason Zoocha is where it is today is because of their staff and how they interact with clients, enabling them to understand and build websites according to their clients’ needs. Thus, the key to success in this field, conversely, is the human side: understanding what your clients need, creating mutually beneficial relationships to ensure that problems can be solved and both sides achieve what they want.
The desire to deliver more than just ‘a website’ plays well into the changing sphere of digital economies. Zoocha understand that their client’s specifications are constantly changing. Fitzgibbons cited the changes that clients have wanted over the past five years. In the early 2010s mobile responsiveness was something that made a website special, yet it is now essential. Similarly, recent cookie legislation has pushed clients away from their reliance on analytical cookies and encouraged them to have more transparent interaction with their users regarding data. This is a major change in the industry and one Fitzgibbons believes has the potential to shape digital solutions for years to come.
Looking to the future, Fitzgibbons was as optimistic as can be in these difficult times. He believes the Drupal trend is only going to get stronger, with more public sector websites making the leap he believes it will encourage others to get involved. Another important market for Zoocha and other Drupal development agencies is the non-profit sector. The benefit of no licensing fees as well as a large community around the software looks to be a good incentive for many charities to take up Drupal.
For businesses looking for advice on strategy, Fitzgibbons believes that digital is key, particularly in the current crisis. He noted that everything is moving online, from pub menus to high-end fashion, therefore online presence is fast becoming a measure of good business. No longer will customers tolerate a difficult to use website when working from their phone. In Fitzgibbons opinion easy, quick, accessible websites with simple digital outputs will be the key to ensure your company thrives in the digital age.
With thanks to Tom Fitzgibbons, Managing Director of Zoocha, for his time and insight.