If you’re delving into the world of coding, you may be doing lots of research on different programming languages and which is best to learn. Want to host a website or have your very own .dev domain perhaps? Then PHP and JavaScript are great languages to have in your coding arsenal. In a nutshell, JavaScript is a key language to learn to integrate particular functions on webpages, but if you’re interested in behind the scenes work, then PHP may be more your thing.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between PHP vs JavaScript, use cases for both programming languages, how they differ from each other through various criteria and which languages we recommend learning for your web-building project.

What is PHP?

PHP, developed by Rasmus Lersdorf in 1995, is a server-side programming language used in backend web development. Unlike client-side languages that run in a browser, PHP is executed on a web server, processing code to deliver content to users. PHP is used to create interactive web pages by interacting with databases, enabling functionalities like user profiles, posts, and comments on platforms such as social media sites.

PHP is a popular programming language due to its versatility and community. In fact, it’s the building block of incredibly popular content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla. PHP is also a language that receives fairly regular updates – the most recent version of PHP is PHP 8.2, released on November 24, 2022.

What is JavaScript?

Created by Brendan Eich in the mid 90s, JavaScript, or “JS”, is a programming language that’s used on both the backend and frontend. When paired with HTML and CSS, it provides web pages with dynamism and interactivity – such as pop-ups, animations and more. Even something as simple as an age verification for entering a website is coded in JavaScript.

Thanks to new technologies such as Node.js, JavaScript can now also be used for server-side development. It has since grown into a variety of web application frameworks developers can utilise for efficient coding of applications – React is one of the most popular for frontend development and Express.js for backend.

Client-side vs server-side scripting

It’s worth understanding client-side vs server-side scripting so you can see the potential of both. Client-side scripting creates everything a user can see within a web browser. Think animations, buttons, forms – basically anything visual. Responsiveness is key here, as depending on the browser or device you use, a webpage and its functionality may display differently.

Client-side scripting also means that functions happen directly in your web browser after you've opened a website. This allows parts of the website to change or react without the whole page needing to reload. For example, when you fill out a web form on a website and get an instant message saying you forgot your password, that's all client-based scripting – most likely in JavaScript too.

But what about server-side? Server-side scripting is about the actions that happen on a server your website is stored in. So when you visit a website, you request information from a server – it then runs scripts to decide what to show you. This could be anything from your social media profiles to making an online purchase.

Say you wanted to create an e-commerce website, server-side scripting knowledge will help, as it’s also responsible for creating a more personalised approach for users when they log into your site. For example, you could use an API to connect the site with your social channels, which can then display your name, photo and bio in the account section.

PHP vs JavaScript in a nutshell



Overview Full-stack language released in 1995 Back-end language released in 1994
Performance Faster Fast
Extensibility Combine with HTML, XML, Ajax. many frameworks available Combine with HTML on wide array of CMSs
Universality Cross-platform, full-stack Cross-platform, back-end
Complexity Harder Easier
Community Large Large
Syntax Simple and concise Simple and concise
Best for Full-stack language released in 1995 Back-end language released in 1994

PHP vs JavaScript jobs overtime

Looking at the demand for JavaScript and PHP jobs through Google Trends over the past year in the UK yielded some interesting results:

In general, when interest fell for one language, it fell for the other. It’s easy to see that there’s been a small shift upwards towards the summer of 2023, and generally, and upward trend overall – possibly due to these jobs being in high demand. We weren’t too surprised, as PHP and JavaScript technologies are prevalent in our everyday lives, even if we don’t realise it!

PHP and JavaScript compared

Performance and speed

With PHP being a server-side scripting language, it naturally relies on server performance. With PHP 8.2 – it’s been known to boast a substantial performance boost compared to its predecessors. Looking at JavaScript – this language was initially used for supporting web browser scripts and making pages appear more user-friendly on any device. However, NodeJS – a common JavaScript framework that utilises Chrome V8 JavaScript engine to help developers code server-side scripts using JavaScript.

All in all, JavaScript executes faster than PHP on the same hardware. However, because JavaScript runs on the client, if the client machine has poor hardware, then the execution of code will be much slower.

Learning difficulty

PHP has earned a reputation for being fairly easy to pick up by those early in their coding journey, as it’s known for its intuitive logic and structure. JavaScript on the other hand, is known to have a steeper learning curve, particularly as it can be used for frontend and backend scripts. Despite how daunting it may seem, it’s vital to learn if you do go down the frontend route in particular.

Community support

PHP and JavaScript are incredibly popular languages in the web development space. Sites like Stackshare.io, which has a large JavaScript community, prefer it due to its use on frontend and backend, as well as the huge library of open-source frameworks developers can access. It’s so popular, that sites such as Netflix, Meta and even NASA use JavaScript.

To contrast this, PHP is loved by the community due to being open source and is used by popular sites like Slack, Facebook and much more. While not as popular as JavaScript, PHP is fully open source, whereas JavaScript itself is not.

From an employability standpoint, learning both languages will land you some serious gigs, and may even help you integrate with communities on GitHub.

Syntax and logic

Whether you decide to learn JavaScript or PHP is down to personal preference. Typically, characteristics of a programming language are reasons why developers may have an affinity for certain ones. Here are some things to look out for when trying to spot JavaScript and PHP, as well as general rules to know about both:


Below is a typical example of how a script may be written using JavaScript – <script> is the biggest giveaway here:

document.write("This is how you structure JavaScript");


PHP can be placed anywhere in a script and starts <?php. Below, we have an example of a simple PHP file, with a PHP script that uses a built-in PHP function "echo" to output the text "This is what PHP looks like" on a web page:

echo "This is what PHP looks like";

Backend dev

JavaScript is the language of choice for backend development if you need to maintain a steady and constant connection between users and the server. This is especially true for things like streaming platforms, live chats and anything else that uses real-time processing. Plus, JavaScript is great at handling high-traffic websites.

On the other hand, PHP serves as a robust backbone for the backend requirements of eCommerce platforms, particularly with systems like WordPress, Magento, Drupal and the like, plus database management systems such as MySQL.


PHP is thought to be more secure in the community due to the fact the code can’t be accessed via the “View Source” or “Inspect” elements of web browsers. JavaScript however, runs in the browser, which exposes its code to anyone who views a webpage. This can allow unsuspecting users to take advantage and hack into sites, especially if the website owner doesn’t have the right security in place.

Nevertheless, there are various tools and methods available to bolster the security of JavaScript. Employing security analysis tools and adopting practices like using SSL certificates can enhance the protection of your JavaScript code.

Frequently asked questions about PHP and JavaScript

JavaScript vs PHP– which is easier to learn?

Like learning any language (spoken or otherwise), you’ve got to have the right level of motivation and discipline. While one language may be easier to learn in theory, your motives for learning a programming language can make the process of learning it easier.

PHP is seen as “easier” due to the amount of resources and documentation on the internet, plus a widespread community for when you need help with your scripts. However, JavaScript is often seen as far superior due to its interactive component building and backend frameworks like Node.js to handle specific tasks. While JavaScript does have a learning curve, there’s always something new to learn, which means more possibilities in your scripts.

Should I start with PHP or JavaScript?

Choosing to learn PHP or JavaScript ultimately comes down to your personal goals and projects. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, but learning both can go hand-in-hand.

JavaScript is often the go-to, especially as frontend development is something many developers learn first. JavaScript is what codes the interactive of a page, and is an essential component in many web development courses (and hence jobs). Thanks to the introduction of Node.js, it’s now also possible to use it server-side, meaning JavaScript can be seen as a jack-of-all-trades. Having said this, you’d need prior knowledge of how JavaScript works before you can fully utilise their frameworks.

So why would someone want to learn PHP if JavaScript can do it all? PHP integrates seamlessly with the likes of MySQL – making it a good scripting solution for web applications that are data-centric. Plus, with it being much older than JavaScript, there’s far more documentation out there, meaning you’re never going to be at a loss if you’re stuck on your PHP scripts.

Is PHP better than JavaScript?

Neither language is better than the other, because they’re used for entirely different purposes when it comes to web dev. PHP is known as a backend language almost exclusively, and can be used to generate dynamic content as well as handle data. JavaScript is used for developing interactive elements on a web interface. It’s not uncommon to find both languages used for web applications, so a full-stack approach to your webpage may be the best solution.

If a constant connection is required between the site, server and user – then JavaScript may be the optimal solution. However, if you need to work with management systems like MySQL, or need something more secure where source code cannot be accessed by anyone, then PHP can be a good choice in this instance.

Want to put your PHP or JavaScript to good use with one of our Web Hosting solutions? Contact us to see how we can help kick-start your next project or business. If you’re hosting on WordPress – be sure to check out our range of WordPress themes to get your ecommerce site up and running with a great look and feel.