7 Drupal Performance Experts in Chicago

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Part of my role as Strategic Director is to help clients make more informed decisions.

In that effort I reviewed the portfolios of the leading Drupal Firms in Chicago and picked 5 random websites in their portfolio and ran each one through a battery of tests to find out who is leading the Drupal Site Optimization efforts and who will help ensure your Drupal site is optimized for your users and and provide real business value.

Every year we inherit a lot of Drupal sites that were supposedly built by a Drupal Development Expert. This post is in response to that fact. I want to connect prospective Drupal clients with Good Drupal agencies and every company in this post has a strong reputation in the Chicago Web and Drupal communities. 

I also would like to share this post with the local Drupal community and promote some discussion and knowledge sharing to improve the whole level of quality that clients can expect to find here in the Chicago Drupal community.

Some things worth considering

Before jumping into the findings it is worth noting that:

  1. Not All Sites Are Supported Equally - Just because a web design company builds a website does not necessarily mean the client keeps the web company on retainer for regular performance tuning.
  2. Tested Population Size - I only selected 5 random websites out of each companies entire portfolio which in some cases featured well over 50 portfolio examples.

Overview of Findings

Companies Using Drupal for their own Website:
(ranked in alpha order)

Caxy Uses
Drupal
Digital Bridge Uses
Drupal
EDUCO Uses
Drupal
Palantir Uses
Drupal
Promet Source Uses
Drupal

Companies Building 100% Drupal:
(ranked in alpha order)

Duo Consulting
100%
EDUCO
100%
Promet Source
100%

Companies Building Drupal Sites Designed to Rank:
(ranked by performance)

Palantir Avg Domain Authority
69
Promet Source Avg Domain Authority
66
Caxy Avg Domain Authority
61
Duo Consulting Avg Domain Authority
59
EDUCO Avg Domain Authority
57

Drupal Firms Building Well Tuned Drupal Sites:
(ranked by performance then alpha order)

A Rating for Time to 1st Byte =
- EDUCO
- Palantir
B Rating for Time to 1st Byte =
- Caxy
- Digital Bridge Solutions
- Duo Consulting
- Promet Source

Listed in alpha order here are some of the high level insights we have saw based on the criteria our clients are often asking us questions about.

Caxy - Leading Chicago Drupal Optimization Firm

Caxy's Website CMS: Drupal

Caxy's Trends Based on 5 Clients from their Portfolio

  • % of Sites BuiltWith Drupal: 20%
  • Avg Domain Authority: 61/100
  • Avg Time to First Byte Grade: B
  • Avg Google Mobile Page Speed Insights Score: 51/100
  • Percent of Sites that Pass Google's Mobile Friendly Test: 80%

Digital Bridge Solutions - Leading Chicago Drupal Optimization Firm

Digital Bridge Solution's (DBS) Website CMS: Drupal

DBS's Trends Based on 5 Clients from their Portfolio

  • % of Sites BuiltWith Drupal: 80%
  • Avg Domain Authority: 37/100
  • Avg Time to First Byte Grade: B+
  • Avg Google Mobile Page Speed Insights Score: 54/100
  • Percent of Sites that Pass Google's Mobile Friendly Test: 40%

Duo Consulting - Leading Chicago Drupal Optimization Partner

Duo Consulting's Website CMS: Custom

Duo's Trends Based on 5 Clients from their Portfolio

  • % of Sites BuiltWith Drupal: 100%
  • Avg Domain Authority: 59/100
  • Avg Time to First Byte Grade: B
  • Avg Google Mobile Page Speed Insights Score: 56/100
  • Percent of Sites that Pass Google's Mobile Friendly Test: 100%

EDUCO - Leading Drupal Optimization Agency in Chicago

EDUCO's Website CMS: Drupal

EDUCO's Trends Based on 5 Clients from their Portfolio

  • % of Sites BuiltWith Drupal: 100%
  • Avg Domain Authority: 57/100
  • Avg Time to First Byte Grade: A
  • Avg Google Mobile Page Speed Insights Score: 58/100
  • Percent of Sites that Pass Google's Mobile Friendly Test: 100%

Palantir - Leading Drupal Optimization Agency in Chicago

Palantir's Website CMS: Drupal

Palantir's Trends Based on 5 Clients from their Portfolio

  • % of Sites BuiltWith Drupal: 80%
  • Avg Domain Authority: 69/100
  • Avg Time to First Byte Grade: A
  • Avg Google Mobile Page Speed Insights Score: 65/100
  • Percent of Sites that Pass Google's Mobile Friendly Test: 80%

Promet Source - Top Drupal Optimization Partner

Promet Source's Website CMS: Drupal

Promet's Trends Based on 5 Clients from their Portfolio

  • % of Sites BuiltWith Drupal: 100%
  • Avg Domain Authority: 66/100
  • Avg Time to First Byte Grade: B
  • Avg Google Mobile Page Speed Insights Score: 60/100
  • Percent of Sites that Pass Google's Mobile Friendly Test: 80%

Orbit Media Studios - Top Drupal Optimization Company Chicago

Orbit Media's Website CMS: Wordpress

Orbit's Trends Based on 5 Clients from their Portfolio

  • % of Sites BuiltWith Drupal: 40%
  • Avg Domain Authority: 41/100
  • Avg Time to First Byte Grade: D
  • Avg Google Mobile Page Speed Insights Score: 50/100
  • Percent of Sites that Pass Google's Mobile Friendly Test: 60%

Background & Method

Why we looked at the following criteria.

Sites Built With Drupal

This is a good indicator of which firms are really committed to building Drupal sites. If a firms concentration is under 50% that is not necessarily a bad thing, but you may not be hiring a Drupal development expert, but maybe more of a general web development expert.

Domain Authority

Domain Authority is a metric from SEO Moz. It ranks your domain names authority out of 100. The higher your score the better. Your score is a prediction of how likely your site is to rank on Page 1 of Google. The lower your score the less likely you are to rank on page 1.

Optimizing a Drupal site involves more than making sure your site loads quickly. You also want to ensure that your Drupal Partner is Optimizing for organic search engines and helping your site generate qualified business leads or qualified shoppers. You site's Domain Authority will depend on how your site is built, but also the clients marketing efforts after the site is launched. So, a really high score may be just as attributable to the clients marketing effort after launch.

Time to First Byte Grade

The First Byte time is the time from when the user started navigating to your website URL until the first bit of the server response arrived.

The thing to know here is the time to beat is 1 second. If your website's time to first byte is over 1 second that is not terrible, but it may indicate that the Drupal company responsible for building your site may not have tuned it for optimal performance.

Drupal sites are easy to manage content, but they require a team that is well equipped to optimize it for fast load times and that is something many organizations considering a Drupal project don't understand.

The grades given are:

  • A = Under .3 seconds
  • B = .3 - .6 seconds
  • C = .6 - .7 seconds
  • D = .7 - 1 second(s)
  • F = Over 1 second

Google Page Speed Insights

Google Page Speed Insights measures the performance of a page for mobile devices and desktop devices. The Page Speed Score ranges from 0 to 100 points. A higher score is better and a score of 85 or above indicates that the page is performing well.

The Google Page Speed report will also provide a list of suggested improvements - items with a:

  • Red Exclamation Point = Fixing this would have a mesaureable impact on page performance.
  • Yellow Exclamation Point = Consider fixing those items if it doesn't require a lot of work.
  • Green Check Mark = Good Job! 

Google's Mobile Friendly Test

The Google Mobile-Friendly Test will judge the usability of a website on mobile devices with a pass/fail result. Websites that pass will receive preferential ranking in mobile search results and receive the “Mobile-friendly” designation.

Research Made Possible By

Not all of this information is readily accessible. It required using some great free tools. So I'd like to give a big "THANKS" to the following sites below that helped us do this research:

The CMS or Language a site's using
Built With
*Their website's domain authority
Open Site Explorer
Time to First Byte
WebPageTest.org
Google Page Speed Insights
Google Page Speed Insights
Google Mobile Friendly Test
Mobile Friendly Test

Want to know who I would hire if EDUCO wasn't an option? I'd be happy to tell you.

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About the Author

Marty Vernon

Marty is Co-founder/Strategic Director at EDUCO. Connect with Marty on , , or Google+