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What does your shop do and how do you work with Drupal?

Gorton Studios is an award-winning full-service web design and development company based in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) of Minnesota.

We build user-friendly, owner-friendly, results-oriented websites. For a long time, that meant we were quietly building them with the best tool available (Drupal), and educating our clients on the merits of the tool along the way. Now, with Drupal’s emerging popularity many of our clients seek us out specifically because of our abilities with Drupal. That shift sped up significantly in 2008, but I think a big part of that was tying for the #2 showcase award at the 2008 Boston Drupalcon – and the fact that we tied with some absolute rock-stars in the Drupal world (a team including DC 2009 sponsors Lullabot and Tree House).

So, now, in addition to our primary focus on designing and building great websites based on Drupal, we’re also increasingly consulting and training others who are hoping to do the same.

How did you first get involved in Drupal development?

We’ve been in business since 2001. Like just about anyone who dates back to that era, we developed our own CMS. It had some neat features, but as time went by, it got increasingly difficult to keep the pace of innovation that we wanted. Sometime in mid-2004, we were starting a new project and felt it’s feature-set merited a serious look at other open-source CMS options. After a quick look at Drupal, we gave something else a shot. That tool gave us a fast start with a slick UI, followed quickly by some major technical limitations. We adjusted our CMS survey to focus much more on code review and Drupal got another shot – resulting in the launch of our first Drupal site in spring of 2005 (with version 4.4!). We did several Drupal 4.5 sites and really started thinking of it as our go-to tool with 4.6. As of Drupal 4.7, we effectively became a Drupal shop.

So, the technology got us hooked. On a more human note, though, I’ve got to say the Drupal community is an incredible group of human beings. Since becoming more involved with the people of Drupal, I’ve been repeatedly blown away by the combination of personable, open, thoughtful, straightforward brilliance that seems to be such the norm in this community.

What type of websites do you specialize in?

Good ones. Moderately complex, non-trivial projects. Our complete portfolio is online at Recent projects cover a lot of ground, including:
• News and Magazine-style websites
• Media, Television and Arts websites
• Public and Not-For-Profit websites
• Education and Outreach websites
• Business and E-Commerce websites
• Government websites
In terms of our clients, we’ve been fortunate to work with lots of great organizations around the country. Just in the last twelve months, we’ve done projects for:
• Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
• National Science Foundation (NSF)
• Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI)
• State of Minnesota
• University of Minnesota
We get awards, too. In 2008, the Drupalcon Boston Showcase Award really was an incredible honor. We also picked up a W3 Silver Award and Parents’ Choice Silver Award in 2008.

What are you most looking forward to at DrupalCon DC?

The people. The best part of every Drupal event is the chance to connect with all these awesome people.

I’m also looking forward to my session on managing a Drupal process. There’s a lot of things that go into making a great Drupal site that don’t really involve technology. I’ll be talking about the process we’ve developed and refined over the years to help us make the best choices, stay on target, and deliver the best possible results. Specifically, I’ll be addressing Plan, Design, Develop, Verify, Train and Support as distinct project phases and how they can fit together for optimal goodness. I think this is a big hurdle for a lot of Drupal shops, and it’s one of the ways that I hope we can help give back to this awesome community.

Drupal offers so much wonderful functionality and so many modules and I am always learning as Drupal is consistently in motion. I’m looking forward to the sessions and expanding my Drupal knowledge.

I always enjoy meeting other Drupal developers and put a face to the user id. And what better place to have a beer with the stars of the Drupal community.