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PHP in Profile for Small Businesses wanting Supersized Websites

Quick Summary - PHP is one of the most widely used programming languages for websites making it a “goto language” for small businesses wanting a competitive web presence.

PHP in Profile for Small Businesses wanting Supersized Websites

Startups and enterprises need PHP developers, too, suffice that so many third-party applications use PHP that it arguably offers the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to online business.

8 mins read

What is PHP?

PHP is a general-purpose scripting language most often used for server-side scripting in web development. It works on your web server, unlike client-side languages like JavaScript that run through browsers. Where Javascript can influence how your site looks and behaves, PHP executes tasks in the background. A number of third-party solutions like WordPress and Magento make it easy for the smallest of businesses to create impressive super-sized websites (content creators – bloggers, vloggers, artists, etc., aside).

According to W3Techs, 78.7% of the websites they track make use of PHP. PHP usage is declining, but very, very slowly – as will become clear when we look at the sheer range of essential third-party programs actively using it for databases, content management and eCommerce.

It adds functionality beyond what HTML can offer on a stand-alone basis, allowing you to generate images, PDF files, Flash movies and offering extensive support for databases. It allows the use of procedural and object-oriented programming or both.

It’s been around since 1994, as some of us may recall, “Before the Internet became a passing fad” and when both personal and business-based websites first started becoming popular. Back then, PHP stood for Personal Home Page. Creative, yes?

Since then, PHP has taken on what’s called a recursive initialism, standing for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor – like the more famous GNU which stands for “GNU’s Not Unix.” More creative, very geeky. As one might guess, it is maintained by The PHP Group.

What is PHP used for?

Again, PHP is practically universally recognized as a good language for Website development. JetBrains provides the most recent and comprehensive range of statistics for most programming languages per their State of Developer Ecosystem 2021. Their data draws upon feedback from nearly 32k developers from 183 countries.

 

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As their chart shows, the vast majority of PHP developers use it for websites and web-based apps. However, PHP is also used for desktop utilities, databases, and a solid variety of other applications – including operating drones.

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A Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Elite

Current PHP versions

Two versions are presently supported: 7.4 and 8.0. Support for PHP 7.4 will come to an end in November of 2022. Support for it remains quite active, with the recent release of version, PHP 7.4.24 as the latest in a string of security releases. Version 8.0 was released in November 2020 and security support will continue through November of 2023. It has a history of three-year cycles.

PHP pros and cons

PHP has a number of pros and cons, but when sticking to its primary use case – website development, the advantages are dramatic – unless we’re talking about machine learning applications. Even then, PHP is very flexible and can work in conjunction with other programming languages like Python that are good for ML/AI/BI apps.

One of the core strengths of PHP will always be the number of third-party applications that many small businesses are likely to use.

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Some may argue that PHP use is in decline and count that as a negative point. An alternative view is that measurement is based upon the percentage of active PHP developers. The decline is very gradual indicating that it is still competitive against a disproportionately greater number of other programming languages.

Moreover, in terms of the absolute number of websites and the absolute ease of setting up some pretty sophisticated websites with professional templates… PHP will remain relevant well into the future because it is actively maintained, it’s getting faster and adding capabilities.

PHP is the perfect language for small businesses

The ease of generating HTML has improved dramatically since the 1990s and early 2000s. Back then, webmasters had to contend with the browser wars where just about every major tech company was trying to influence HTML standards. This often led to what you designed for one browser being rendered sometimes quite differently by other browsers. Though we still have to deal with some of that, it’s exponentially less complex.

These days, just about anyone can use What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYGs) to create basic web pages – and even entire websites. But HTML has distinct limitations, very limited functionality, good mainly for static text. PHP helps to extend website functionality in how serves or generates images, downloadable pdfs, Flash movies, dynamic content, databases, and more.

PHP is a “goto language” for nearly any small business desiring a competitive web presence. There are just so many third-party applications that make use of PHP as the actual basis for a website. In addition to webpages and web-based apps, PHP is useful for:

  • Content Management Systems – it is used in WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, OpenCart, PyroCMS, ExpressionEngine, OctoberCMS, and others.
  • eCommerce Apps – beyond those also serving as a CMS, you can find PHP in  OsCommerce, Prestashop, Zencart, X-Cart, WooCommerce, Virtuemart, etc.
  • GUI-based Apps – Though it probably wouldn’t be your first choice, PHP can be used to create cross-platform graphical user interfaces.
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PHP and WordPress

WordPress is a good example, as it is a Content Management System used by 40% of all websites – covering over 60% of the CMS market. An enormous number of design templates, not to mention over 55,000 plugins, are available to customize what can start as a completely (if very limited) free web presence. Most hosting services offer automatic installations and updates for WordPress, too.

But, when it comes to customizing “templated” sites and adding stable functionality for customized features, a PHP developer is invaluable. Because WordPress is so popular, many hackers target sites that use it to exploit a lot of basic vulnerabilities. If nothing else, you may want a developer to step through all of the best practices to secure your WordPress site. This extends to any plugins or additional functionality you add, as well.

Help for your PHP tech stack

As a cross-platform language you have a lot of options available, so as always, we recommend consulting with a software architect to determine your project requirements. As noted, PHP is sort of like an “automatic next step” for enhancing a basic HTML website. However, just about any programming language can be made to work with PHP.

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All major desktop operating systems support PHP: Linux, many Unix variants, MS Windows, MacOS, and others. With perhaps a little bit of tinkering, developers can also use PHP for Android and iOS mobile apps, too.

PHP is supported by most web servers, including:

  • Apache HTTP
  • Apache Tomcat
  • Nginx
  • H2O
  • Caddy
  • Lighthttpd
  • LightSpeed Web Server (LSWS)
  • Eclipse Jetty
  • Cherokee
  • Glassfish

 

PHP wage comparisons

You don’t always get what you pay for, or well… more accurately, the value of your shekel or dollar depends a lot on where you spend it. A lot of that weighs on the cost of living from one place to the next. You’ll pay a lot more for an apartment in Silicon Valley than you will for a similarly furnished apartment in Tel Aviv. You’ll also pay more for an apartment in Tel Aviv than you will for most cities in Ukraine.

But, we’re mainly concerned about technical skills. PerceptionBox specializes in sourcing developers from Ukraine which focuses heavily on exporting IT services. That’s important for Israeli companies given the local (and relative global) shortage of IT workers. Ukrainian developers rank 5th globally in technical proficiency (Skillvalue scores over 93%) and 2nd in terms of value (quality and productivity relative to cost).

Many small business owners wishing to develop their online presence and compete with giants like Amazon can achieve a lot with even a single part-time PHP developer or two. It’s not the only thing you’ll need to beat Amazon locally, but we’ll ways David can beat Goliath online soon

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* This includes a 10% discount for a 3-month prepayment for projects you expect to last 4-12 months. An additional 5% discount can be gained for projects lasting more than 12 months.

When comparing the costs of outstaffing PHP developers through PerceptionBox versus hiring an in-house developer, the difference becomes much more pronounced. The fully-loaded cost of an employee can add 25-40% to base wages due to taxes, insurance, benefits, and other overhead. We welcome you to use our online wage calculator to see how much you can save by outstaffing with PerceptionBox compared to hiring l

 

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