FAQ: Is PHP Still a Relevant Language For Building Web Apps?

By Joshua Gross, 29 October, 2022

Once you've decided to build a web app, you're faced with a question that initially seems impossible: what programming language should I use?

You can choose from countless options– Java, Python, JavaScript, Swift, Kotlin, Ruby, and more. However, one of the preferred languages for web app development is PHP.

You don't have to take our word for it, either– PHP is used by sites as popular and varied as WordPress, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Tumblr. PHP offers an open-source solution for static and dynamic sites, which lets you create better web apps in less time.

Because PHP has been around for nearly thirty years, people frequently ask whether the language is really still relevant in 2022. Let's take a deep dive into this question to help you pick the best possible programming language for your next web app.

What Is PHP?

A general-purpose scripting language that was created way back in 1993, PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page. These days, its long-form name is now PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. Yes, it's recursive.

PHP makes adding functionality to web pages easier without calling upon external files for data and was one of the first server-side languages that could be embedded right into HTML.

Is PHP Still Relevant For Building Web Apps?

Even though PHP is nearly thirty years old at this point, it remains highly relevant due to its many benefits. Highly scalable, efficient, and able to handle extensive projects while remaining easy to use, PHP appears to be here to stay.

In the past, PHP was considered a light and easy solution. This is because it allows for a prompt development-to-launch cycle and easy deployment. As a result, even relatively inexperienced programmers could complete projects quickly using PHP.

This is still one of the primary advantages of PHP, but there are added benefits of its latest version that are much more powerful than it was in the past.

So, is PHP still relevant for building web apps, or is it a language that should have been left in the past?

The short story is: PHP is still highly relevant for building web apps and sites. Fast and easy to use, cost-effective, and offering great support of frameworks and updates, there's a reason why some of the world's biggest websites still rely on PHP to provide content and services to millions of users worldwide daily.

After you've chosen your programming language for your next web project, you're likely starting to wonder which APIs you should use to ensure that your app best serves the needs of your audience. This guide goes over how to choose the best API for your next web app.

What Are the Benefits of Using PHP For Web Apps?

According to W3 Techs Web Technology Surveys, 77.4% of all websites use this scripting language on their server side. Given that this is the most widely used programming language, one would assume that PHP has countless benefits. Let's take a look at all of the primary advantages of PHP and why it is still highly relevant for building web apps.


Both loading time and workload are reduced when using PHP because it uses its own memory. This means that developers and clients benefit from sites built using this language, as the product can be delivered sooner thanks to the high processing speed.

On top of that, there are SEO benefits to a fast uploading speed, meaning that PHP is well-suited for sites that aim to drive traffic through search results pages.


When you're first building a web app, you are likely envisioning the project growing over time. You might begin with a barebones version of your app that you expect can expand as you gain more followers and produce more funds. In these instances, scalability is key, so it's easy to transition to a high-traffic app.

When you use PHP, you can easily scale your app or site by adding more servers. As your user base grows, so can your number of servers, providing a simple and easy solution to scaling your app.

Open Source

One of the great things about PHP is that it's free and open-source. Because PHP is so widely used, this also means that there is an enormous community of developers working with this language across the world.

When you use PHP to build your web app, you can rest assured that many developers are using and discussing PHP daily. You can find tons of information regarding best practices and potential improvements through the online community of PHP developers.

PHP also has its own support, meaning that help is always there when needed. On top of that, it also means that PHP is getting better all the time, with new components, frameworks, and tools being incorporated.

Easy to Learn and Use

PHP is often touted as one of the industry's easiest programming languages.

At the same time, experienced developers can use PHP to create apps and sites with interactive UIs.


There is a bit of a controversy when it comes to the security of PHP, as some people claim its open-source nature makes it not as secure as it should be. The reality is, though, that there are vulnerabilities in every programming language. How a given language is used matters more than the specific programming language.

For this reason, it's important to have experienced developers working to create your web app so you know that the most secure practices are being used and that thorough software testing is occurring to avoid potential security breaches.


All popular web browsers are supported by PHP.

On top of that, developers can select the operating systems that work best for their needs and the need of the project.

Custom Opportunities

When you want to create a custom web app or site, server-side PHP is one of the best tools you can use.

If you have a specific vision for your app, using PHP can make your dream a reality.


It's no secret that building web apps can be expensive, but using an open-source language like PHP can help reduce additional software expenses.

Free from royalty fees and licensing fees, in addition to allowing for multiple integration options, your overall development costs can be lower when you use PHP versus other languages.

When you're developing an app, choosing a programming language isn't the only decision you have to make. Another important choice is which project management methodology you're going to employ to ensure that your project gets done on time and within your budget. Check out this recent post to learn about the agile, scrum, and waterfall methods and which one is likely best for your next web app development project.

Which Web Apps and Sites Were Written in PHP?

While it's all well and good to know that PHP is still relevant, it can be useful to understand which web apps were written using PHP so you can see what the language looks like in action.

On top of that, when you see that some huge, high-traffic sites were built with PHP, it shows that the benefits of this language aren't just theoretical or abstract.


Facebook was developed mostly using PHP and has grown to have nearly 1.5 billion active users across the globe. Since the social media site was founded in 2004, it's taken advantage of its ability to quickly create dynamic content using PHP.

When Zuckerberg and Moskowitz first wrote the application code for Facebook, they did so in PHP. In 2010, Facebook introduced HipHop for PHP, which translates PHP code into C++ and then quickly compiles it for execution in binary. This was eventually replaced with HipHop Virtual Machine in 2013, which helped improve the ease of development, the speed of deployment, and overall performance.


To help maximize the efficiency of their workflow while also making their request time faster, Slack uses PHP in their backend.

With more than three million daily users, you can see that PHP allows even the most highly active site to run smoothly and efficiently.


Using MySQL/MariaDB for their database backend and PHP as a programming language, Wikipedia is one of the most-visited sites that rely on PHP.

In 2014, they switched to HipHop Virtual Machine, much like Facebook, which helped to nearly cut in half their loaded page data speed.


One of the biggest e-commerce sites built using PHP, Etsy has nearly 48 million active buyers.

Unlike other companies, Etsy has been incredibly transparent about their experimentation with HipHop Virtual Machine, documenting how they dealt with the challenge of scaling Etsy's API traffic capacity 20x.


There are over seven million registered users on MailChimp, and the company uses PHP to send hundreds of millions of emails daily.

Are you wondering what you need to know in order to plan out your next app development project? Take a look at these ten steps you'll want to take as a part of your planning process.


Hosting more than 529 million blogs as of July 2021, Tumblr began all the way back in 2006.

Ten years later, in 2016, they announced that they had been able to achieve dramatic performance upticks thanks to transitioning to PHP7.


WordPress was written in PHP when it was first developed in 2003 for use with MySQL, one of the most popular content management system solutions out there. PHP makes it possible to find and grab key database components and output them in the form of static HTML.

PHP is what makes it possible for millions of active daily users to easily drag and drop UI components on their WordPress sites without being an experienced developer.


Twenty years ago, Yahoo made headlines by switching to PHP for its back end.

Thanks to PHP, Yahoo has been able to offer its users a high-end user interface, user-friendly email templates, and optimized account security.


Founded in 2004, Flickr is written in PHP and currently has more than 112 million registered members.

Every day, more than 3.5 million images are uploaded onto the site.


The Chinese multinational tech company Baidu uses PHP to help serve its 665 million active monthly users.

Some of the site's primary features include full-page screenshots, drag-and-drop functionality, and easily opening recently closed apps.


PHP is used by iStockPhoto, which is Getty Images' international stock content marketplace.

With roughly 160,000 contributors from around the world, some of the most notable features include searchable online databases, royalty-free images, and instant downloads for images.


Making graphic design accessible to everyone, Canva uses PHP to serve more than ten million users around the world.

If you've ever used Canva to create a logo, social media graphic, or poster, you can give PHP a little tip of your cap.

Are you worried that your web app development project is going to face obstacles that slow down the development process? Read our advice on how to stop your app project from stalling.

Are You Beginning a New Web App Development Project?

Choosing the right programming language is essential when you're building a new web app. PHP can be a great choice when you prioritize scalability, ease of use, and a large community of developers. At the same time, though, it's important to understand that any programming language will only be as good as the developers you have building your app.

If you're looking for the right team to partner with for your new project, we're here to help. At Planetary, we work with everyone from huge Fortune 500 companies to small start-ups. We've worked with the likes of General Electric, Buzzfeed, and Hermes over the years, and our distributed team is comprised of highly skilled experts from around the world.

Is it time for you to make your dream app a reality? Drop us a line today and tell us a little bit about your project.