What is PHP? A Quick Look at the PHP Programming Language

There are a lot of programming languages out there, some with strange names that make it hard to figure out what each one does. While you don’t necessarily need to know any code to build a website, those researching web design might find themselves wondering, “What is PHP?”

PHP is a general-purpose programming language, commonly used for interactive website development. It’s an open-source language that was created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, per The PHP Group. PHP is used by at least 83.1 percent of the world’s websites, according to W3Techs. It works behind the scenes to help site users access pages and features on many sites, including WordPress.com.

How does PHP work?

PHP is a server-side scripting language, which means it’s used to communicate with the web servers that store your website. PHP files act as a set of instructions that dictate what content should be displayed, and other details like speed and performance. These instructions are then processed in the server and are used to dynamically display a web page.

Do WordPress.com websites use PHP?

Yes, WordPress.com is a PHP application. This means that all WordPress.com websites use PHP in addition to a few other programming languages.

But if all WordPress.com websites use PHP, is it necessary to learn? While there’s definitely value in understanding what PHP is, you don’t need to know how to write custom PHP to manage your website, use themes, or add plugins.

Professional WordPress.com developers who create the platform have a mastery of PHP. They take care of writing the PHP code to perfection.

While knowledge of PHP is useful in understanding how your site works, knowing the language is not a necessity for mastering free website design with WordPress.com. You also don’t need to know how to write PHP to extend the functionality of your WordPress.com Business website with third-party plugins.

PHP is a useful coding language that helps to power many websites, including yours. But don’t worry about learning it. WordPress.com takes care of PHP coding so you don’t have to.

Let our experts build your custom WordPress.com website.

Whether you need a landing page or a full ecommerce site, an online learning academy or an interactive informational site for your business, we can build it for you.

Apply now


Jasmine Henry

Jasmine is a freelance technology writer, with interests in UX, mobile optimization, and web design trends. She's also a Project Management Professional with an academic background in Informatics and Analytics.

More by Jasmine Henry