203: Small Agency Success with Reusability: Zurb, Drupal, and more!

One dev shop: Talking with Richard Moger about the success of his small-scale agency, Claritis, and how reuse of open source tools like Zurb Foundation and Drupal allow him to work efficiently and grow with his clients.

Doing most of the work at Claritis himself, Richard has become adept at being efficient. His experience seems to have given him a good sense of when he should solve a problem himself and when he should bring in a specialist--for example a professional designer, or an open source tool--to get the job done quickly and well.

The Wisdom of the Small

Here are a few tips Richard shares:

  • Old days v new ways - Pre open source, "In terms of the way we built stuff, it was very fluid, if we decided we needed a feature, we just went and built it. There wasn't the shared knowledge out there and the team were very insular. We knew our systems and we knew how to get the best out of them. And that's what we did. Obviously, the big contrast nowadays with something like Drupal is that you can leverage all this wonderful stuff that everyone else has done. If we went through the same process now, a good 60% of it would have been from the community."
  • Drupal is the right way - Richard explains that he made an informed decision to go with Drupal and learn it, as well as "Linux, PHP, and so on, so that's taken time, but I've always known at the back of my mind that I am doing it the right way. It goes against the grain for me to use the wrong technology, a not-scalable solution, when I know that Drupal is a more scalable solution."
  • Use, reuse: standard tools - "I have found it incredibly difficult to find good resources at good rates to do theming, for example. So for me, using something like [Zurb] Foundation means that I can use something standard with the hope that at some point in the future, I can find resources out there that know how to use Foundation. And I can bring them in to help me with projects."
  • The power of suggestion, or "How to help your clients help you help them." - "Foundation reduces the amount of time it takes me to do theming. I've got the luxury as well of being able to steer a client toward a certain design and look. The designer I work with uses Photoshop PSD's, but he uses the buttons and all the styles from Foundation within Photoshop so that we can present something [easier for us to implement]. Smaller clients just want it to look good."
  • Faster is better - "If a project can be done in half the time," by reusing design elements, tools, or processes, "it doesn't need a genius to work out the difference in profitability of the company."
  • Be the community - Richard is trying to do the right thing by the community that has given him so much. He gives sessions to share his experience and methods with others. He points out the benefit of attending Drupal Camps and the like for himself, too, "These events are great because you if you pick up a new tip that saves you a couple of hours a month, then cumulatively, that's a really good saving."
  • Direct service - "Being small, the person who picks the phone up is probably going to be the one who does most of your development."

Guest dossier

  • Name: Richard Moger
  • Work affiliation: Drupal agency, Claritis.co.uk
  • Drupal.org: richierampage
  • Twitter: @richardmoger
  • LinkedIn: Richard Moger
  • 1st version of Drupal: 6
  • About: Richard started building websites in 1997, when most people didn't even have access to it. Over the years, he's progressed from trying to convince his boss that the web was here to stay, to building everything from scratch to make that travel business a huge online success, to being able to produce great, responsive sites for clients almost on his own thanks to the power of collaboration and open source tools like Zurb Foundation and Drupal.

A little more info ...

  1. Zurb Foundation, responsive front-end framework
  2. Vicky Tenaki's blog about Richard's session as presented at Drupal Camp London, 2015.

Session Slides, Drupal Camp Bristol 2015

Responsive theming and getting started with Foundation 5

Interview video