How PHP powers WordPress

How PHP powers WordPress

With over 60 million websites and counting, WordPress is a monumentally popular choice when it comes to content management. Open source, simple to learn and highly customisable, it’s easy to see why WordPress is so widely embraced. But many users might be unfamiliar with the programming language that underpins so much of what WordPress has to offer.

What is PHP?

PHP is a server-side scripting language, and is often the difference between a static and a dynamic website. While static sites are provided directly from the webserver to the user’s browser, PHP does some extra server-side processing to enable many of the dynamic features we now take for granted. PHP code can tell your website to generate specific content depending on the time of day or the date, for example.

WordPress is based on PHP, along with HTML for the basic content, CSS for the visual layout, JavaScript for some advanced functionality, and MySQL for databases. But without PHP, it wouldn’t be possible to display images and media based on various criteria, save or read database content, or access WordPress-specific information.

Do you need PHP knowledge to get the most from WordPress?

One of the greatest strengths of WordPress is that it utilises the power of PHP without demanding coding expertise from the user. Many users are perfectly happy to let PHP do its thing behind the scenes, and there’s no need to learn PHP to create a high-quality WordPress site. But to customise WordPress exactly the way you want it, you’ll need at least some basic PHP knowhow.

To develop your own WordPress themes and plugins, or modify the behaviour of WordPress, knowledge of PHP, as well as HTML and CSS, is required. WordPress PHP files generally have a .php extension, and by editing these you can customise WordPress in ways that go far beyond a standard install.

Do you know what PHP version you’re on?

Anyone with a WordPress site should be aware of the PHP version they’re currently running. While older versions are supported, WordPress.org recommends hosting your website with at least PHP version 7. In a previous post we highlighted how keeping software up to date is crucial to ensure stability and security. As earlier PHP versions gradually reach end-of-life, you could see your website exposed to vulnerabilities if upgrades are continually put off.

At Fasthosts, we offer the best of PHP and WordPress. With full support for PHP 7 and one-click WordPress installation, our Cluster web hosting platform is ideal for building and managing websites with top levels of security, functionality and customisation.

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