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Is PHP Still Relevant to Build Websites in 2021: Benefits and Real Examples

  • 11-12 min read
  • September 28, 2021
  • 👍 Rating — 4.5 (448 votes)

The world of the Internet is similar to the universe — there might be an end somewhere, but we can’t see it. Thousands of new websites are launched each and every day and this tendency doesn’t seem to stop. But have you ever wondered how these websites are made?

When it comes to picking the programming language, the choice can be hard to make. There are so many options available on the market that you might feel like a child in a candy store.

Nevertheless, programmers are used to choosing one or two languages to stay focused. Truth be told, being an expert in one technology is better than knowing several ones but on a beginner level. PHP is one such common technology that developers choose to focus on, and you may be wondering: “Why PHP?” or “Isn’t PHP outdated?”. And with this article, we will definitely answer the question. 

What Are the Main Advantages of PHP?

PHP is known to be the most frequently used programming language. According to W3Techs, 78.8% of all websites are using PHP for their server-side.

Interesting fact: PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page. Now PHP is widely known and thought of as Hypertext Preprocessor.

So, what are the main benefits of using PHP for web development?

Open Source

The first thing you need to know about PHP is that this technology is free in all senses. The crucial attribute of open source tech is the large community of developers working with it. Not only are they using PHP each day, but they are also continuously discussing it, thinking about improvements, and in fact bringing new positive changes and enhancements. Programmers can learn faster and implement cutting-edge solutions as soon as possible. Moreover,  unlike many other programming languages, PHP has its own support. All these factors lead to the arrival of new frameworks, components, and other tools that make PHP even better. 

Scalability

Building a website or a web application, creators are probably looking forward to the projects’ growth. Therefore, scalability is very important as the website should grow and be able to handle increasing traffic. Websites built with PHP can be easily extended by adding more servers when needed. More users = more servers. Voila! 

High Speed

Since PHP uses its own memory, both workload and loading time are reduced. As a result, the processing speed is rather high, which is a benefit not only for developers but also for their clients who get the product delivered sooner. The speed of uploading is also crucial for SEO, so you shouldn’t dismiss this factor if you want to use your site for marketing and sales objectives. 

Security

Some claim PHP is not secure enough as it is open source. But the truth is that any programming language is prone and vulnerable, it’s just a matter of how they are used. The security level depends on the expertise of the developers and their practices. For example, one of the ways to avoid security breaches is to provide software testing. By the way, it’s an essential milestone of each project completed by our team.

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Related Article
We pay a lot of attention to cybersecurity. Learn what measures we use to protect the software we develop.

Cost-Efficient

Since PHP is open-source, it doesn’t require any additional expensive software to work with. You don’t have to pay for any extra licenses or royalty fees, and there are no restrictions. Due to the multiple integration options, using PHP is free of charge and that reduces the overall development costs.

Custom development

The server-side PHP is the best tool for creating custom websites as it’s not limited by any custom options. Hence, developers can create a web platform based on PHP that exactly matches the clients’ needs. For instance, combined with JavaScript, the dev team can build a functional and at the same time good-looking website.

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Popular websites that use PHP

php for web development

As we said before, a very large share of websites all over the Internet are built with PHP. But you might be interested in the really large platforms that have used this programming language. The shortlist below should be enough to convince you:

  • WordPress, a free content management system, is used for 40% of websites on the Internet (however, we don’t suggest building your site on WordPress, if you can avoid it, and here we explain why);
  • Wikipedia, the world-famous online encyclopedia, is powered by software MediaWiki, which is built on PHP;
  • MailChimp, an e-mail marketing service, with 12 million users;
  • Etsy, an e-commerce platform for craft and hand-made goods with 4 million sellers and 81 million buyers;
  • Slack, a communication platform with 10 million daily users, uses PHP to power its backend.

PHP is Still Good!

PHP was considered a very easy and “light” solution in the past. That is due to its easy deployment and prompt development-to-release cycle. Your project can be completed quickly even by relatively inexperienced programmers. Today, this still remains one of PHP’s biggest advantages. Nevertheless, the number and variety of possibilities have increased dramatically as PHP version 7.4 is much more powerful than its predecessor (update: PHP 8 was released at the end of 2020). Why and how does that happen?

php back-end development

Currently supported version of PHP, source: php.net

Some updates are unimportant, introducing only incremental changes. Others, though, can totally reshape the whole product. That happened with PHP when the majority of new frameworks empowered PHP to do bigger and greater things. Among them are Symfony, Laravel, Lamina, Yii, Cake, Code Igniter, and others. We use and like Yii2. It is our personal favorite and since we admire it so much, we would recommend that e you go with this framework as well.

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Need help with PHP and its framework?

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Frameworks come with packages and products such as admin panels, CRMs, web sockets servers, profilers, payment integrations, queuing managers – to name a few. They create a certain ecosystem that allows working with PHP much faster and easier. This is required by the rapid progress of the Web with more interactive features, sophisticated design, and richer functionality. You can go beyond Content Management Systems like WordPress and do pretty much anything, combining a library of your choice with a framework that best suits the task at hand.

Comparing PHP 5 with PHP 7, it is worth mentioning that performance (speed) has increased 2 or 3 times. Therefore, most of the arguments against PHP have become obsolete over time. That means that the community of developers behind PHP takes criticism as constructive feedback seriously and uses it to improve.

websites built with php

Why Use PHP for Web Development?

Some programming languages decline in quality over time. With PHP, it’s the opposite, since the demand is constantly on the rise. New challenges demand improvements and yearly updates deliver these improvements. Backend done with PHP today is not just a database addition to your front-end development. Much more diverse tasks like data gathering, redirection, integration with mobile, etc., can easily be done with PHP.

Considering everything that has been said, it would be true to state that PHP has become more efficient and able to handle different tasks while staying user-friendly and cheap. For commercial projects, PHP is the best choice, thanks to its light syntax and quick onboarding.

What else can be said about PHP? Its simplicity is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It doesn’t suit the development of complex systems for some academic research systems, for example. But all commercial projects are alike, and they can be sophisticated from the marketing point of view, yet quite easy to handle from the programming side.

Based on this, many claim that PHP is the best commercially used programming language all around the world. Teamed up with JavaScript, PHP can be used to see any kind of project through to a successful release with no problems. It is like English among programming languages. Everybody knows it, it can be adapted quickly and used for a virtually infinite number of purposes.

Development becomes faster and easier with PHP

What else is there to say about the beauty of PHP? On average, it takes less time to deliver a project using PHP than when some other programming language is chosen and used for the task at hand. Less time means your project is going to be released faster. Therefore, developing the MVP of your product with PHP will make it more likely that your product is still going to reach your target audience in time to be relevant and topical, leaving your competition in the dust. Time to market is dramatically reduced when you use PHP as your language of choice.

Furthermore, it is much easier to find programmers who have knowledge of PHP than any other programming language. Therefore, having a bigger pool of talent to choose from, you won’t be left without qualified specialists. That is because PHP is, as we have investigated earlier, very simple and easy as compared to other software programming languages.

Using PHP for web development is cheaper than other back-end technologies

Hourly rates of PHP developers are also 15% less expensive than that of, for example, Python developers or Ruby developers. Therefore, the developer is easier to find and cheaper to hire. Isn’t that wonderful?

We specialize in custom development but in case you are going to need to integrate some third-party CMS solutions like WordPress or Wix, it is very easily done with PHP. You can do parts of your project with PHP or you can do it all with PHP, depending on what kind of functionality your business model is going to require.

PHP supports many database options, from MSSQL and IBM to DB2 and Oracle OC18. With more database options it is easier to handle your data and redirects it. Faster speed allows fluent and fast work of all embedded systems.

  • MySQL (open-source)
  • PostGreSQL
  • SYBASE
  • IBM-DB2
  • Oracle DB
  • Cubrid
  • DB++
  • dBase
  • filePro
  • FireBird/InterBase
  • FrontBase
  • Informix
  • Ingres
  • MaxDB
  • Mongo
  • mSQL
  • Ovrimos SQL
  • Paradox
  • SQLite / SQLite3
  • SQLSRV
  • Tokyo Tyrant

Is PHP Still Relevant in 2021?

Some say that if their platforms were built today, they would not choose PHP for the development. But we don’t agree with such statements. PHP is convenient, easy to learn, has many useful libraries, detailed documentation, and what is very important — has a huge community. Some might call this language old, while we consider it to be one of the classics.

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Related Article
Need more information on PHP website development costs? We have a separate article covering this topic.

GBKSOFT’s Experience with PHP

PHP is a technology that constantly stays in demand by a company. We suggest PHP for web development for the server-side of their web application due to:

  • possibilities of good and easy scaling;
  • easy implementation of third party libraries and SDK;
  • good caching options;
  • fast API development possibilities;
  • a great number of image processing tools and libraries;
  • flexibility and development speed.

The good news is that PHP can be successfully implemented in any industry. We’ve used this language for projects in the following fields and expertise: 

  • business intelligence tools like CRM and ERP systems like Leo;
  • fintech services, e.g., trading platforms like TickerTocker;
  • IoT-powered apps like Aquiline Drones;
  • logistic web-applications;
  • gambling websites;
  • others.

So, if you choose PHP for the back-end, what other technologies might you need to go along with that? We usually combine PHP with JavaScript and its frameworks for front-end, MySQL as the database engine, AWS as hosting.

So, to give you an idea of the projects we usually work on, here is an estimation for an ERP system for a concrete material manufacturer that is needed to automate processes and increase the productivity of the company. PHP and its framework Yii2 was chosen as a server-side language, and JS was picked for the client-side.

Specialist Hours Cost
Product Owner 178 $6,942
Designer 292 $9,344
HTML/CSS developer 416 $10,400
JavaScript developer 718 $28,720
PHP developer 868 $30,380
QA engineers 663 $16,575
System Administrator 41 $1,599
Project Manager 479 $20,118

As you can see from the estimation, the hourly rate of the PHP developer for this project is $35. The rate of a Node.js developer with the same level of expertise will cost you around $50 per hour. The difference is significant, so we suggest you don’t jump to conclusions in labeling PHP as an outdated technology so as to not automatically dismiss it, but evaluate its benefits and consider playing to its strengths. 

Conclusion

To put it simply, the choice of the development language is a compromise between the pros and cons of the available options. PHP is a language that can be used to build any kind of website in 2021, starting with landing pages and simple WordPress websites, and ending with complex web platforms like that of Facebook.

Flexibility, nativity, multiple integration opportunities and high speed are among the chief reasons we use PHP for web development in our projects.

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Ready to start your PHP development?

Our team is ready to provide you with experienced PHP developers and a full cycle of software development.

In the developer’s community, a lot of people started perceiving PHP as an outdated language that has no place in the IT industry by 2021. However, statistics show that around 80% of websites are still written on PHP. The language is still relevant and popular for web development, as it’s easy, fast, constantly updated and there is a wide market of specialists who can work with it.
PHP is good for business applications, as it is cheap, flexible, and grants a good speed of development. It will definitely spare your budget, saving you money, especially in comparison to Ruby, Python, or Node, yet it will still give you great results in terms of performance and processing.
We usually combine PHP on the back-end and JavaScript on the front end to create fast, powerful applications in different domains, e.g. business tools and financial services.

Creator

I believe that the tech sphere is one of the most important markets nowadays, therefore I like to dig into new trends and explain their main point in simple words. My interests include how new technologies improve our everyday life, including education, traveling, communication, and workflow.
Max

Expert

Back-end team lead. Has more than 10 years of experience in web development. Designed and implemented a lot of solutions in e-commerce, social services and many others. Never afraid to use a new technology which are most relevant to reach a project's objective. Responsible.
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Comments (15)

Prince
Sep 01, 2021 at 10:08 AM

PHP for website development as it is a highly flexible programming language. PHP is a great choice and is dominating server-side web development with well over 80% of the market share.

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Mar 09, 2021 at 10:12 AM

Hi, Elena. PHP is really a very good platform that one can use to make a website. You have stated some of the most well-known websites which have been developed using PHP. Thank you for sharing this article. It was truly a very good article. I will definitely share this article as much as I can.

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Jan 22, 2021 at 5:32 PM

I was impressed with your article
I have been in technology for 45+ years, and have taught computer and database for many years. I have seen the platforms come and go. I have had many discussions with young programmers that seem to latch on to tools and almost get a cult like devotion to them.
I wrote many programs in cobol and basic Rbase, etc.. What astounds me is that many programmers got enamored with gui to the perel of efficiency and reliability. Php is streamlined and powerful and I just convinced my son-in-law to ditch his floundering website on WordPress and go back to a pure php development.
Your article was usefully in convinci g him that it wasn’t just old antiquated dad-in-Law that was suggesting this move.
How I described his website was a bicycle that had modules duck taped to the frame that were somewhat connected, but the wiring diagrams didn’t match up exactly so a patch and more duck tape to fix the solution, all the while promising that we would have a well oiled machine, .a porche.. just trust them.!! But each module had a different developer that was not available for help except by email and everytime an update happened you could be assured that you were broken until each plugin was updated. And God forbid you had a comparability issue, because you could spend weeks playing the blame game between all the players.
Anyway back to your well written article… Thanks for providing a great evaluation of php and the reasons for strong consideration of using it as a core platform.
Phil

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Ricardo Miller
Nov 26, 2020 at 3:28 PM

Well said couldn’t agree more. Beautifully scripted article and I’m not one for reading but I read it all.

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Serena Martin
Nov 02, 2020 at 11:08 AM

Nice article, Elena!!
According to my personal opinion, PHP is the better one than others.
The view of PHP as a stodgy, old, useless relic of days long gone may be a reflection of the pace at which tech moves, broadly speaking.
Thanks for sharing this.

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Tony
Oct 18, 2020 at 3:56 AM

I haven’t tested yet but Phalcon Framework seems to be fast, it’s php framework but implemented as web server extension, I like the idea of taking advantage of php extension ans using directly in the php, according to some banch in the web is fast and low memory consumption

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Simon Jones
Sep 09, 2020 at 3:39 PM

This is genuinely an awesome read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am anticipating perusing new articles. Keep doing awesome!

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Brett Favre
Jul 09, 2020 at 12:26 PM

Elena, Thank you for your useful article. I am doing a two side auction (double auction) website for agricultural commodities. Does PHP suit this kind of web application?

I plan to use PostgreSQL database on Ubuntu server.

Thanks in advance.

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James Gibbs
May 15, 2020 at 10:06 PM

Hi there Elena,

PHP is the base of every good website its very difficult to avoid it while you are starting, the basic language that provides building web sphere will always remain in game

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Emmett
Jun 25, 2019 at 11:24 AM

Hello, you do very well, this article is really useful for me. What does it mean PHP everywhere and in this today’s world php essential parts of our lives? Why we are using PHP instead of javascript? What are the basic feature that php facilitate us?

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