How to Create a PHP Website

Posted on July 26, 2019 | Updated on December 10, 2020

While PHP is not well-suited to every website, there are several benefits to using PHP on the back end of your site. PHP is open-source, meaning there is a lot of support and community discussion, and it is free to use. Figuring out how to create a PHP website is simple with so many resources available.

Content management systems such as WordPress use this popular language. Experts estimate WordPress powers about 27 percent of the Internet, and those aren’t the only sites using PHP coding.

Other benefits to using PHP include that all the web servers support it, and it delivers content much faster than other options, reducing load times. If you’re convinced PHP is the right choice for your website, here are several tips to get you started on how to start a PHP website and help you make the most of the transition.

1. Start With OOP

Before you dive right into PHP and trying to learn a new coding language, gain a background in OOP, which stands for object-oriented programming — the foundation of PHP. By learning the basics of OOP, you begin to understand PHP, and can then move on to more advanced topics. Take an online course, such as Object-Oriented PHP for Beginners, at Tuts+.

2. Install PHP

As with most new things, your first step is to begin working with PHP. The more you work with it, the better you’ll understand the language. Check to see if your web hosting company allows PHP. Most already have the latest version of PHP installed, meaning you can install software such as WordPress and work within it, as well as integrating databases with it. Look for MySQL as an option, for example. If you’re unsure of the installation process, or your server doesn’t offer one-click installation, talk to your server about what you need to do.

3. Learn Basic Commands

Once you have your platform installed, learn about some basic PHP commands that will call up what you want on your page. Understand that you will be embedding PHP commands into your HTML documents. You have to learn the syntax of PHP, which isn’t much different from HTML. You basically have to spell out what you want to happen when someone lands on your web page. The University of Florida spells out how the syntax works and some basic commands to get you started for free.

4. Avoid Relative Paths

If you’ve spent any time coding, you know there are relative paths and root paths. Relative paths point the user to a folder on the server. Example:


You can run into issues if the parent directory is not the working directory, which returns errors for the user. Instead, define the root path:

define(‘ROOT’ , ‘/home/var/specificfolder;

require_once(ROOT . ‘…/home/page.php);

This process is also helpful if you move directories later, as you can redefine your root, rather than recoding everything.

5. Automate Copyright Year

One of the main reasons people switch to PHP is the ability to automate processes. However, you might still manually go in and rework your copyright year in your site’s footer. Luckily for you, it’s a simple matter of PHP coding to automate this to update to the current year.

&copy; <?php echo date(“Y”); ?>

If you want, you can add a start date and a dash and then automate this year’s date. The key is that you won’t have to keep going in and changing your copyright year every time the calendar year changes.

6. Change Graphics by Season

Have you ever noticed how some websites use different graphics based on the current season? There is a simple way to automate this process, too. It does require some planning for the graphics you’d like to use and more involved coding. You can grab the code from CSS Tricks. Just plug in the paths that point to your graphics.

7. Create a Master Configuration File

Instead of randomizing your database connection settings — this makes it more difficult to find and alter them later — it’s better to create a single, master configuration file and then call upon it in your PHP scripts.

This also makes it much easier to make changes and updates later. You don’t have to sort through a massive database of code — you can refer to a single file. It’s also incredibly helpful when you need to use constants and functions across multiple scripts.

8. Always Sanitize Database Inputs

Learn the following function and use it every time you pull data into your database: mysql_real_escape_string. What it does is take any string or dataset and cleanses it to ensure you’re getting the raw data. When used alongside the htmlspecialchars function, you can be sure that special HTML characters are preserved.

This allows you to keep your database safe — especially from SQL injections — and also prevents cross-site scripting attacks, which can happen if you include user-submitted HTML fields.

9. Find a Good Code Editor

You’ll want a code editor that helps you learn coding and points out mistakes you’re making along the way. You could just use the free Notepad that comes with Windows, of course, but you may not work in a Windows environment, or you may want more feedback. Invest in an integrated development environment for PHP, such as PHPStorm. It will give you feedback as your code your first PHP scripts.

10. Learn Ternary Expression

Learning PHP isn’t easy and takes many months of study to fully master. One area you’ll want to study in depth is ternary expression, also known as if-else code blocks. They give scenarios for when a visitor lands on your page — such as actions that happen or do not happen, based on given circumstances. You’ll have if statements and variables and also use true/false statements to tell your page how to behave.

11. Use a Framework

Writing code from scratch is time-consuming and leaves a lot of room for error. That is where frameworks come into play, which are sections of pre-written code you can adapt for your specific needs.

A framework is basically a platform, so WordPress is a framework and a content management system at the same time on which you can build a website.

12. Turn Error Reporting On

When you begin a new project, turn error reporting on. It will allow you to see any mistakes in syntax in real time and fix them as you go, before they become bigger issues. Error reporting should continue until you’re ready to publish the site.

13. Use Built-In Functions

PHP features built-in functions that will help you code some of the most common elements in website design. A function is a block of statements you likely use over and over in creating a project. They don’t pull up on page load, but during specific functions, such as clicking on a link. Using built-in functions saves precious coding time.

14. Use Your Admin Tool

Your server likely has an admin tool installed to help you use PHP easily. Often, this is phpMyAdmin. Using phpMyAdmin speeds up anything you need to do on the back end of the database, such as exporting SQL files or running SQL queries.

15. Add a PHP Exception Handler

If your PHP script has an error, your site visitor might get a fatal error code. This is off-putting to site visitors, so you should add code that handles an exception in your PHP script. You can find an example of one you can copy and use at CodexWorld.

16. Practice and Be Patient

The key to learning PHP so you can create and maintain websites is to practice coding as much as you can. Be patient with yourself as you learn the ins and outs of this coding language. PHP isn’t an easy language to learn, and just when you think you understand the finer details, there is something new to master.

17. Save Your Favorite Snippets

Throughout the course of your projects — and career even — you’ll be working with a lot of identical code and functions. Instead of typing it all out, piece by piece from scratch, it makes a lot more sense to preserve it in some way, so you can just call upon it later. It’s similar to a framework, but you’re working with custom codes you’ve written.

Many applications and tools allow you to do this, including Snippet, Snippely, Snipplr, and Code Collector. The web and cloud-based ones are the best because they allow you to store your favorite snippets in an accessible space online you can access anywhere. For instance, you can save a code reference while programming on a work terminal, and access it when you get home on your own computer.

Some IDEs also include support for code snippets — Dreamweaver and Eclipse come to mind. However, you can also create your own directory, organized in whatever form or fashion you desire.

The point is just to store the snippets you frequently use because it will save you a lot of time — like, a lot, a lot.

18. Find a Good Balance with Commentary

Even though you’ll be using a standard language, it’s essential to understand code writing is as unique as drawing, conventional writing and other creative practices. Often, it can be so unique that you might not understand what you were trying to do when you return. That’s exactly why it’s necessary to document your work by commenting out your code. All languages allow you to include ignored comments, and PHP is no exception.

The trick is finding a good balance. You don’t need to comment on every single line. Well-written code often speaks for itself. But when you’re dealing with more complicated functions and code segments, it’s essential to leave at least a brief explanation.

19. Connect With Other Developers

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, there are still plenty of opportunities to learn from your peers. Join a PHP-oriented community, or dive into a PHP oriented sub-community on an existing social platform. The PHP subreddit is a great example.

When you get stuck, you can ask for help or advice. You can provide support for other developers, which helps hone your own skills. You can also open discourse about PHP and your work, in general, to gain valuable insights from the community.

You don’t exist in a bubble, which is — believe it or not — a good thing!

How to Create a PHP Website

You don’t have to wait until you fully know PHP before creating a PHP website. Using a framework allows you to get the site in place. You can then learn PHP as you go, which is one of the best ways to learn because it allows you to put principles into practice.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at


  1. Max on February 26, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Hey Eleanor,

    I hope you’re well!

    I’ve read your guide and I came into conclusion that this is what it worth to start learning -how to building websites! I’m work as the freelancer, but I wish to join some big IT company, organize the team and become a department Team Leader/Senior Member. In my local area (I live in Novosibirsk City, Russia) one of the biggest holding I found is mobile dev company?—?Magora devs, if someone could help me find something similar, I will gladly review other options, I’m just unsure if this suitable enough where to start getting my first experience!
    Also, if any one have any experience cooperating with them?—?I would gladly appreciate any bit of feedback!
    Also you may found my website I’m currently building!

    Thank you in advance!

    • Eleanor on February 26, 2019 at 9:33 am


      Thanks for reaching out! I’m not too familiar with that part of the world so I don’t know how the industry works over there. But my best advice would be to check out any entry-level positions at that company and work your way up. Engage with the company on their social media channels like Instagram and Twitter.

      I wish you the best of luck!

  2. Eve Hunt on March 25, 2019 at 5:50 am

    I love reading through a post that can make people think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

  3. Carl on May 18, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Hey Eleanor,
    I have read your article. Thanks for your effort. Now a days there are lots of php script available for certain function(like school management system). Should I buy it?

  4. Markar on July 21, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks for every Php information . The place
    else may just I am getting that kind of information written in such a perfect way.

  5. William Talley on July 28, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Valuable information’s. Great indeed. I’ll follow your tips hope this’ll be great to implement. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  6. bestybesty on August 8, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Our experts spend hours on research, looking at reviews, product specifications, and more. This helps our experts filter through hundreds of products, so you don’t have to.

  7. run 3 on August 13, 2019 at 5:12 am

    Thank you! This is really useful

  8. freya riki on August 21, 2019 at 12:57 am

    Hey Designerly,
    Thanks for providing this piece of information. Actually, I was in search of a good article describing how to create a php website. This was really useful for me.

    • Eleanor on August 21, 2019 at 11:23 am

      Glad I could help, and thank you for reading!

  9. Shrooms Unblocked on October 3, 2019 at 4:43 am

    Great indeed. Thank for sharing!

  10. Richard Handson on October 4, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Websites is one of the best tool for promotion of business worldwide. Platforms for web development include PHP(Core PHP,Laravel,Codeigniter),WordPress and much more. Php is very useful because it is easy open source. you will be easily coordinate with other for discussions. Thanks for sharing an amazing guidance

  11. John Grant on February 3, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Eleanor,

    Good day. Hope you are fine.

    Thanks for sharing such a nice, informative and helpful article on “how to build a website”! I’m work as the freelancer, but I wish to join some big IT company, organize the team and become a department Team Leader/Senior Member. In my local area (I live in Novosibirsk City, Russia) one of the biggest holding I found is mobile dev company?—?Magora devs, if someone could help me find something similar, I will gladly review other options, I’m just unsure if this suitable enough where to start getting my first experience!
    Also, if any one have any experience cooperating with them?—?I would gladly appreciate any bit of feedback!
    Also you may found my website I’m currently building!

    Thank you in advance!

  12. David on March 26, 2020 at 6:57 am

    Hello Eleanor,

    I hope you are fine and doing well. As you know that there are so many PHP scripts out their like store management systems. Should I buy them?

    Thanks for the great information.

    • Eleanor on March 26, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      Hi David, thanks for reading my article! So I always seek out the free resources first, because anytime you can get something free, you save money for marketing or buying scripts you can’t find free. Some of the paid-for PHP scripts are more detailed and worth investing in. You should evaluate how helpful the script is to your goals and if you can afford it. You might also want to check out some of the sites where you can hire a coder and get a custom script, such as Fiverr, and compare the costs.

      Hope this helps!

  13. David on April 2, 2020 at 7:10 am

    Thank you so much.

  14. Greg on May 7, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Hey Eleanor!

    I was wondering if you could recommend some of the paid-for PHP scripts (or resources for them) that you had mentioned to David above? I’m more worried about getting things done quick rather than spending money, so no problem with higher priced ones.


    • Eleanor on May 11, 2020 at 9:30 am

      Hi Greg,

      This is an excellent question. Every designer’s needs are very different, so it’s difficult to name specific scripts, but the resources I’ve used over the years include Code Canyon and PHPScriptsMall. How much they cost depends on their intricacy. When you have a specific need, head to one of those and do a search of their available files.As I mentioned to David, hiring a coder to create a custom solution is also a viable alternative. You can use services such as Fiverr or GigtoDo to find coders looking for work. Pay careful attention to their reviews and what others have to say about their work. Once you find one you enjoy working with, favorite them so you can find them easily again.

  15. Michael on May 18, 2020 at 7:41 am


    Thank you for the resources you gave to Greg above, I have been in need of some help.

    I am looking to get some work done for a project I am doing but to be honest I really do not have the time so I wanted to see if you had a good resource to share.


  16. Nomankhan on August 29, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Great information the article contains a lot of good information and use full

  17. James on October 13, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Eleanor,

    Appreciate your input on this topic. Right now we have a small agency that only works with WordPress but definitely interested in PHP.

    Do you have any resources that offer this either as an outsource service or easy training my team can follow?

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