If you own one of the approximately 75 million active websites currently powered by WordPress, you’ve likely come across mentions of PHP. You’ve no doubt wondered, then, while choosing between the hundreds of themes, plugins, color schemes, and design choices available to create your website, “What’s WordPress PHP?”
Wonder no more, for WP Super Host is here to save the day! In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at WordPress PHP, what it is, why WordPress uses it, and how to learn WordPress PHP to create a one-of-a-kind website that’ll attract visitors to your site like never before. If, however, you want a quicker summary of PHP’s key components, use our nifty table of contents and jump to our FAQ section.
Table of Contents
What’s WordPress PHP?
PHP, or Hypertext Preprocessor, is a server-side web programming and scripting language used to create dynamic interactive websites. Like WordPress, PHP is an open-source technology. Not only does this let anyone use PHP free of charge, but it also supports its own community of users who are continually developing, supporting, and improving the language. What sets PHP apart from other programming languages, though, is how prolific it has become within the web design community.
Today, PHP is used in developing nearly 80% of websites, including some of the largest and most popular social, e-commerce, and multimedia platforms on the internet like Facebook, Wikipedia, Pinterest, Yahoo!, and yes, WordPress.
Server-side scripting vs. Client-side scripting
Websites typically speak in two languages: server-side and client-side. All this really involves is where the data retrieval process takes place. PHP is a server-side programming language, meaning that the data retrieval and coding conversion from PHP to HTML (client-side language) happens on the web server instead of the user’s web browser. So, when a user requests a web page that contains PHP code, the code is processed by the PHP engine installed on the server. The PHP pre-processor then generates HTML output to be displayed on the user’s browser screen.
Here’s a simple example of what the server works with:
echo “WP Super Host is the best!”;
And what you ultimately see:
WP Super Host is the best!
It’s sort of like ordering a meal at your favorite restaurant. The chef receives your order and follows the recipe for the specific dish you want. You never see any of the unappealing raw ingredients or complicated preparation process, only the beautifully plated and delicious looking end results.
Having the conversion take place on the server also provides substantial benefits for your site as well, including improved security, faster load times, and greater flexibility in design options and hosting preferences. And since PHP integrates seamlessly into other languages, this ultimately prevents you from having to create a coding tree for each individual component of your site. In other words, if you run a blog or news site, you don’t have to code individual pages for every piece of content you put online.
Why does WordPress use PHP?
Alongside MySQL, PHP makes up the core of WordPress’s scripting language. One of the key reasons for WordPress’s heavy reliance on PHP is that, unlike other software languages, PHP is extremely flexible. It’s not only compatible with nearly every operating system and web host server, but it’s also easily integrated with other web languages like HTML. This allows users to quickly update or change the functionality of their website at any time without spending valuable time and resources re-coding. Moreover, this flexibility also allows anyone to build a site regardless of their programming experience by simply selecting from the pre-built themes and plugins, which, as you might imagine, are built using PHP.
However, the main reason PHP is so integral for WordPress is customization. While WordPress offers hundreds of exciting themes and plugins ideal for creating any type of website you could imagine, these templated pieces are still pre-built. For WordPress users who really want to make their website their own, PHP allows further customization of the various site components with a few quick changes to the programming script. We should note, though, that while PHP is relatively easy to learn, having a stronger understanding of it before diving in will help you avoid causing irreparable changes to your site.
The Importance of Updating Your PHP Version
Like your smart phone’s operating system, PHP routinely undergoes regular updates and improvements, and just like your smartphone, the PHP version you operate on plays a big part in your website’s performance.
The advent of PHP 7 some years ago brought about significant improvements to the PHP language. Improved security, enhanced performance and speed, greater dedicated support, and numerous new features all drastically outperformed that offered by PHP 5.6. Operating on outdated and unsupported versions of PHP for WordPress not only means that you run the risk of serious security vulnerabilities and broken site components, but also means you don’t have access to enhanced performance speeds. Said speeds can be up to 3 times faster than older versions!
As of December, PHP 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4 are the only actively supported PHP 7 hosting versions available. So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to update and take advantage of everything PHP 7 has to offer.
How to update PHP in WordPress
For most people manually updating PHP, the process often looks something like this:
- Create file backup
- Build a staging environment
- Check compatibility of themes, plugins, etc. with desired PHP version update
- Test site for complete functionality
- Modify/update broken files
- Save changes
If you’re using a managed web hosting provider, switching is often even easier. Here at WP Super Host, for example, the latest version of PHP is always available. All it takes to guarantee you have the best hosting experience is giving us a call. From there, we take care of the entire process for you.
WP Super Host: The Best WordPress PHP Host
You value exceptional performance and unmatched security when it comes to managing your website, as well you should. We here at WP Super Host do as well, which is why we always host the latest version of PHP available. What this means for you is that you’ll always have the latest competitive edge when it comes to website performance, support, and server security.
Best of all, we take care of the updating process for you.
Unlike other web hosts which have you create backups, launch plugins to check compatibility, and install the latest version of WordPress PHP on their servers manually before you receive the goods, our cloud-based hosting platform and dedicated engineers condense your part in the process into a single step. Simply reach out to us whenever you want a PHP version update and we’ll handle the rest. That way, you can rest assured you’re never left operating on outdated software or an underperforming server.
To see everything our incredible hosting plans have to offer, check out comparison page. Once you find the plan tailored to your needs, we make signing up super easy, too. All it takes is one click and you’re on your way to avoiding bad web hosting!
WordPress PHP FAQs
What’s WordPress PHP?
PHP is a server-side, open-source programming and scripting language used to create dynamic interactive websites. Many sites such as WordPress use PHP as a core scripting language for its ease-of-use, versatility, optimized data conversion capabilities, and extensive support network.
Do I need to learn WordPress PHP to use WordPress?
No. General users of WordPress don’t need to have prior experience with PHP to build a website, as all of WordPress’s core components like themes and plugins are already built with PHP. If, however, you wish to further customize themes and plugins or outright create your own, you’ll need to learn at least the most common WordPress PHP functions.
What is my WordPress PHP version?
The current version of WordPress you are running can be found by either contacting your web hosting provider directly or installing and running a WordPress plugin such as Display PHP Version. Your PHP version can then be viewed beneath the Site Health/At a Glance tab on your WordPress dashboard.
What is phpMyAdmin?
phpMyAdmin is a PHP-based portable web application used as an administrator’s tool that allows users the ability to interact directly with WordPress’s MySQL databases—which store and generate all information for a specific WordPress site—for the purposes of performing maintenance operations, data backups, and content editing. This tool allows access even in the event that WordPress is down.
What is a PHP file?
A PHP file is any file saved with the .php extension. These files contain all the data functions of a particular part of your website. For example, a header.php file will contain instructions on how your site’s header will look and function.
Where do I find WordPress PHP files?
You can find all your PHP files within your website’s root folder. They can be accessed through your hosting providers dashboard, usually within a folder labeled public_html (also httpdocs or htdocs) and containing other folders such as wp-admin, wp-content, and wp-config.php.
What are WordPress PHP functions?
The WordPress PHP functions file, more often written as functions.php, is a WordPress theme file which allows theme developers and users wishing to further customize their site the ability to define and edit theme features and functions. This file works similar to a WordPress plugin and contains instructions on how your entire site functions.
What is WordPress header PHP?
The WordPress header.php file defines how your theme’s header will look and function. How your header looks is particularly important because it’s the first thing your users will see and interact with. Having a header that really captures the essence of your website will encourage visitors to stay awhile instead of abandoning your site for more intriguing options.
What is WordPress page PHP?
WordPress page PHP refers to a specific type of template file—page templates—which determine how a certain page or set of pages are displayed to your users. Since a page.php file influences specific pages, you have more versatility with how your website’s various pages look and feel. Page-about.php, for example, is more specific than simply page.php and will pertain solely to your About page. These page templates can even be used to affect specific sections of a single page, such as displaying a calendar, scrolling news banner, or photo linking to a featured post right alongside your homepage’s core content.
As we hope to have illustrated, you don’t have to be a code master in order to benefit from WordPress’s PHP scripting. Though it sounds scary, PHP is simply another tool designed to help you manage your WordPress site. Understanding some of the basics of how to manage your WordPress PHP files and running the latest version of the technology will not only improve your site’s overall performance, but elevate it from great to one of a kind.