Drupal Community Involvement Survey, Part 1: Breakdown of Drupal Roles

Introduction: Over the course of the summer, I've been working on a Master's Thesis focused on the experiences of Drupal contributors, and the roadblocks they face when they try to contribute their talents to the Drupal project. Over the next week or two, I'll be blogging the results from this survey here.


The overall survey received 178 complete responses. 2 responses were removed, as the respondents were not current users of Drupal, leaving a total of 176 responses that were chosen for analysis. Of these, the majority (58%, n = 102) of respondents were from the United States and Canada, with another 32% (n = 56) coming from countries around Europe. The remaining 23 respondents reporting their country of residence included individuals from Australia (n = 4), Brazil (n = 4), India (n = 3), New Zealand (n = 3), Japan (n = 1) and the Republic of Korea (n = 1). Of those who chose to list their gender, 60% (n = 106) identified as male, 28% (n = 50) identified as female. 3 participants listed another gender, e.g. “Genderawesome.” The majority of respondents were white.

Breakdown of Drupal "roles"

In the pilot survey, it was discovered that respondents could not easily fit themselves into a single Drupal “role.” As a typical Drupal project involves navigating between code and the Drupal GUI, performing database configurations, even a respondent who considers themselves a designer might spend time doing site building, front-end development, and layout sketches within the same day working on a Drupal project. Additionally, many Drupal users are also contract designers or developers, meaning that they might spend much of their time on activities such as project management, site building, and training documentation, among other things.

In an effort to gain a more accurate picture of how Drupal users split their time amongst various activities related to Drupal, the second version of the survey amended the question about Drupal roles to the following question:

“What percentage of your time would you estimate that you perform the following activities related to Drupal? Your total must add up to 100.”

With options including Site Building, Theming/Front-End Development, UX/Interaction/Visual Design, Project Management/Product Management, Training and Documentation, Development/Systems Architecture, User Research/Usability Testing, Coding/Module Development, and Other (please specify). Responses were coded by hand in Microsoft Excel and fell generally into the following categories, ordered by frequency (see Figure 1):

Figure 1. Breakdown of participants by Drupal Role Category.

Coding Strategy

Role categories were devised after looking at the data and seeing the patterns that emerged. As expected, the majority of respondents split their time among multiple activities, and most leaned towards development, design, or project management/training activities (see Table 1). Additionally, as expected, the respondents included significantly more developers (~53%) than designers or UX practitioners (~18%).

Role Category


Number of Respondents

Hybrid Development

Combined total for “Site Building,” “Coding/Module Development” and “Development/Systems Architecture” higher than 40; balance of activities leaned towards project management and training/documentation. Many of these participants also listed “Front-End Development/Theming” as a significant percentage of activities.


Mostly Development

Combined total for “Coding/Module Development” and “Development/Systems Architecture” 60 or higher; balance of activities leaned towards project management and training/documentation. Very little to no design or Front-end Development listed.


Mostly Site Building/Theming

Combined total for “Site Building” and “Front-End Development/Theming” 60 or higher; 1 response included because “other” was specified as “site admin/content”


Hybrid Design

Combined total for “Site Building,” “Front-End Development/Theming” and “UX/Interaction/Visual Design” higher than 40; balance of activities leaned towards project management and user research.


Mostly Project Management/Training


Combined total for “Project Management” and “Training/Documentation” 50 or higher; balance of activities tended towards either development or site building.


Mostly Site Building/Design

Combined total for “Site Building,” “UX/Interaction/Visual Design” and “User Research/Usability Testing” 50 or higher; balance of activities leaned towards project management or training/documentation. Very little to no development listed.


Mostly UX

Combined total for “UX/Interaction/Visual Design,” “User Research/Usability Testing” and “Project Management” higher than 80


Mostly Site Building

Total for “Site Building” = 75 or higher; no other activities listed higher than 10



Total for “Other” = 80, “Marketing Drupal Company” specified


Table 1. Breakdown of Drupal role categories along with coding rationale.

The most interesting finding, however, was the inclusion of “hybrid” roles, in which respondents listed that they do a little bit of all the activities. However, even these hybrid roles tended to lean towards being mostly design or mostly development oriented. For example, several respondents in the “Hybrid Development” category included both front-end and back-end development in their list of activities, while many in the “Hybrid Design” category also did theming and user research. Most respondents included some amount of project management in their total, with the exception of 3 respondents who chose Site Building as their sole activity.

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