PHP vs HTML: What are the differences?

Athena Ozanich
Athena Ozanich


PHP and HTML are two popular technologies used in web development. While HTML is the standard markup language for creating webpages, PHP is a server-side scripting language that works in combination with HTML to build dynamic and interactive websites.

Young woman excitedly learning about the differences between PHP and HTML for her web development.

In this post, we will explore the differences, advantages, and use cases of PHP and HTML to help you make an informed decision about which technology to choose for your web development projects.

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PHP Basics

PHP is a versatile language used for building dynamic websites and web applications. In today‘s technological landscape PHP is used for everything from web development to computer software development. Often you’ll see PHP used with any of many available frameworks which help by simplifying the PHP code you will use to create your projects. Before we move forward let's look at some of the key aspects you should understand about PHP:

  • Syntax: PHP syntax is similar to other programming languages and is easy to learn. It uses <?php ?> tags to enclose PHP code.
  • Variables: PHP allows the creation and manipulation of variables to store and retrieve data dynamically.
  • Functions: PHP offers a wide range of built-in functions and allows developers to create custom functions for code reusability.
  • Control Structures: PHP supports various control structures, including if-else statements, loops, and switch cases, to control the flow of program execution.

Code example:



$name = “John”;

echo “Hello, ” . $name . “!”; // Output: Hello, John!



HTML Basics

HTML is the foundation of web development, providing the structure and content for webpages. Since HTML is the go to language for creating webpages as it is compatible with all browsers. Regardless of the language you use, you will find yourself working with HTML at some point. Though the way the language interprets HTML may differ. Many frameworks are available for various different langugaes specifically designed for web development. Now let's take a moment to discuss some essential aspects of HTML:

  • Tags: HTML uses tags to define elements and their characteristics. Tags are enclosed within angle brackets (< >).
  • Attributes: HTML tags can include attributes that provide additional information or behavior to the elements.
  • Structure: HTML follows a hierarchical structure using elements like <head>, <body>, <header>, <footer>, <div>, etc.
  • Forms: HTML forms enable user input and interaction on webpages.

    Code example:

    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <title>My Website</title>
    <h1>Welcome to My Website</h1>
    <p>This is a paragraph of text.</p>
    <form action=“submit.php” method=“POST”>
    <input type=“text” name=“username” placeholder=“Enter your username”>
    <input type=“password” name=“password” placeholder=“Enter your password”>
    <input type=“submit” value=“Submit”>

Advantages of PHP

PHP offers several advantages for web development. Let's explore some of its key benefits:

  • Server-Side Processing: PHP is executed on the server-side, providing better security and efficiency while handling databases, processing html forms, and generating dynamic content.
  • Database Integration: PHP has excellent native support for various databases, making it easy to interact with databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server.
  • Handling Forms: PHP simplifies form handling, including data validation, sanitization, and saving form inputs to a database.
  • Generating Dynamic Content: PHP enables the generation of dynamic webpages by embedding PHP code within HTML, allowing developers to create personalized and interactive user experiences.
  • Open-Source Community: PHP has a thriving open-source community that contributes to numerous libraries, frameworks, and continuous updates, ensuring that developers have access to a vast ecosystem of resources and support.

Advantages of HTML

HTML offers specific advantages in website creation that make it an essential component. Let's explore some of them:

  • Simplicity and Accessibility: HTML is easy to learn and understand, making it accessible to beginners in web development. Its simple structure and syntax allow anyone to create and publish web content.
  • Compatible with all Browsers: HTML is compatible with all web browsers, ensuring that webpages created with HTML will render consistently across different platforms and devices.
  • SEO-friendly: HTML provides proper semantic markup, enabling search engines to understand and index website content accurately. It helps improve search engine ranking and visibility.
  • Structure and Design: HTML supports the use of semantic elements that provide meaning and structure to content, facilitating better organization and accessibility. It also enables responsive design and the integration of multimedia elements like images, videos, and audio.

Use Cases for PHP

Now, let's explore some common scenarios where PHP shines in web development:

  • Content Management Systems: PHP powers popular content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. These CMS platforms utilize the dynamic capabilities of PHP to provide a flexible and customizable environment for website creation and management.
  • E-commerce Solutions: PHP integrates seamlessly with e-commerce platforms, enabling the development of shopping carts, payment gateways, and order processing systems. PHP's database integration capabilities are particularly useful for handling customer and transaction data.

Use Cases for HTML

HTML finds practical applications in various website design scenarios:

  • Static Websites: For simple websites, such as portfolio sites, landing pages, or brochure websites, where dynamic content isn't required, HTML provides a straightforward solution. Developers can use HTML to create static webpages that showcase information without the need for server-side processing.
  • Email Templates: HTML is often used to design professional-looking email templates for newsletters, email campaigns, and automated responses. HTML enables the incorporation of images, links, and styled content that enhance the appearance and functionality of emails.

Where to go next with PHP and HTML

Both PHP and HTML have distinct roles in web development. PHP is a powerful server-side scripting language that excels at handling databases, processing forms, and generating dynamic content. On the other hand, HTML provides the essential structure, semantic markup, and compatibility required for building webpages. Understanding the advantages and use cases of both technologies will help you make an informed decision based on the specific requirements of your web development projects. By utilizing the strengths of PHP and HTML effectively, developers can create compelling and interactive web experiences.

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