This post was most recently updated on June 2nd, 2023
When it comes to WordPress, everyone thinks that it’s a low-code or no-code website development technology. And they only need to know basic HTML and CSS to customize a WordPress site. But it’s not all true; as for top-notch WordPress customization, a developer needs to know about PHP too.
The role of PHP in WordPress cannot be denied, as it’s one of the leading technologies that work in the backend. In addition, it’s the backbone that structures the site and executes core functionalities. So, let’s have a look at the PHP in WordPress.
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Answer To Most Asked Question: How is PHP Used in WordPress?
Looking out in the core WordPress, you will find that PHP is everywhere. It doesn’t matter which WordPress theme or plugin you use; each uses PHP at its backend. Let’s look at some visuals to gain more insight into it.
A single ZIP file gets downloaded to your system whenever you download website data or themes from WordPress. And if you open that ZIP file, you can view various PHP (file with .php extension) files inside it. All such files make the structure of a WordPress theme.
In addition, the primary PHP files that every theme contains include the following:
Whether you need to create a new WordPress website or migrate the current one to a new host, in every situation, above mentioned PHP files are required. All such files make the foundation of any theme and represent a portion of the webpage.
For instance, if you customize the header.php file, it will impact the webpage’s header. Likewise, every file has its functionality that you need to understand before customizing the WordPress theme’s core or site’s structure.
Furthermore, PHP files are not only limited to themes; plugins also contain them for better compatibility and functioning. A WordPress development company also utilizes PHP for both theme and plugin development. In addition, as displayed in the below snippet, you will view some similar PHP files while assessing the plugin files.
Why WordPress Tells Focus on PHP during WordPress Development?
As you know, every WordPress theme and plugin contains PHP files, and it’s one of the reasons WordPress recommends focusing on it. Also, PHP is a server-side technology, which makes it sensitive to exploitation, and to prevent cyber-attacks, you must update it constantly.
Whenever a new PHP update gets released, WordPress announces it on its platform and provides complete guidance to upgrade sites accordingly. Whether you are someone new to WordPress development or a professional, using the latest PHP version must be on your checklist.
Additionally, PHP supports enhancing the WordPress website’s performance, making it faster than ever before. And it also helps in achieving marketing/SEO goals, such as:
- The high-performing websites get preferred by Google and other search engines during ranking.
- More people visit the website when it gets indexed on the first search engine result page.
- With more traffic, retention, and conversion rate increases, boosting the company’s revenue.
Besides, the latest PHP version aids in patching loopholes to make the site secure from injection, XSS, CSRF, and all such cyber-attacks. Further, according to WordPress stats, most sites use PHP version 7.4 or above for security, stability, and performance. And that’s why WordPress tells all its users to focus on PHP while developing a WordPress-based website.
In addition, WordPress also provides guidelines for seamlessly and securely updating the PHP version. You can follow the below-provided steps for it:
Step 1: Before you update the PHP of your website to the latest version, create a backup of the site. You can generate it using any plugin or manual technique per your comfort.
Step 2: You can view the available updates by navigating to the WordPress dashboard. And then execute all the updates one after another.
Step 3: Once the update gets installed, check its compatibility using the WordPress recommended plugin.
Step 4: Resolve the compatibility issues if you find any. And if not, then run the website and continue operations.
Best Practices to Follow for Leveraging Maximum PHP Potential
PHP is an integral part of WordPress; to efficiently use it, you should follow the best practices.
#1: Utilize Only the Latest Version
PHP is a leading language that is primarily a hacker’s target. And to prevent it, you must update it as soon as a new version gets released. It will help you strengthen website security and boost performance across mobile and web browsers.
#2: Follow WordPress PHP Coding Standards
WordPress offers a complete set of PHP coding standards a developer should follow. It helps to modify PHP files in a theme and plugin effortlessly. And following such standards makes website code easy to read, structure, and maintain throughout the process.
#3: Debug Code and Handle Errors
Whenever you write custom PHP code during development, always enable the debugging feature, or use a plugin for the same. It will help you detect and resolve errors before you publish a site in a production environment.
#4: Sanitize Input for Security
SQL and code injection attacks are standard for a PHP-based website. And sanitizing user input is an appropriate way of preventing them. By using sanitization, your website can block malicious input from processing, leading to maintaining data integrity.
Role of PHP in WordPress for Different Users
A WordPress website has users/stakeholders, including the admin, developer, support team, end-users, testers, and security experts.
If you are an admin, understanding PHP is necessary, as you need to make changes to the site. And there can be times when you need to upgrade the PHP version or modify a core PHP file. However, if you are an end-user, then you don’t need to learn about PHP in WordPress, as you only need to navigate the site and read the content.
In addition, a developer and support team must have in-depth knowledge of PHP. It would help them to build and support custom WordPress sites, migrate them and develop plugins.
Furthermore, a tester and security professional should also know about PHP’s functioning in WordPress. It will aid in reliably testing the site, patching loopholes, and configuring relevant security mechanisms and plugins to prevent malicious actors. Subsequently, with the user role, the need and scope to understand the role of PHP in WordPress changes.
PHP is a crucial part of every WordPress theme and plugin. And it’s the primary technology that resembles the webpage structure of every website from header to footer. When you download a WordPress site/theme data and view it on your system, all the primary files will be available with a .php extension.
In addition, WordPress also offers PHP coding standards for developers for efficient error handling and customizing websites. You should also focus on PHP expertise when you hire WordPress Developer or partner with a WordPress development company.