If you're a group having a Drupal website built for you, one of the first questions you should ask is, "What distribution will you base the site on?"
And conversely if you're a Drupal site builder with a new site to build, you should start by asking, "What distribution will I base this one on?"
True, not every site will lend itself to being based on a distribution ("distro" for short). A few sites will be so large, or idiosyncratic, or both, that basing them off a distro doesn't make sense. And some will have focuses that don't yet have a solid distro option. But for the rest - and that means most sites built today - a distro is likely to be a great fit.
Why use a distro? The more pertinent question might be, why wouldn't you?
For both users and developers, well designed distros offer a ton of advantages over a one-off site:
- They're built by experts who know the toolsets inside out.
- They're designed with a broad set of users in mind and have already solved many usability and design issues.
- They have been tested on dozens or hundreds of sites so many of the issues you might face have already been caught and fixed.
- They're flexible and allow you to start off with just what you need now.
- They come with built-in solutions for future needs that a site admin can just turn on and use when the time comes. And as new solutions are developed and shared by other users, you'll be right in line to add them in.
- They come with detailed and specific documentation both for users and developers.
- You can access community support from others using the same solution as you are.
- Rather than being stuck with a one-off product that only the individual site builder or company is familiar with, you as an organization get something that multiple developers and shops can work with and understand.
- You're on an update path and can look forward to getting future updates that have already been tested, with update issues addressed for you.
If these benefits sound familiar, they should. They're all the key reasons why you'd choose Drupal and open source in the first place.