One of our pet missions here at VIEO Design is translating excessively technical language—geek speak, if you will—into something more helpful and accessible for the average business owner or marketing director.
Sometimes, though, you just can't keep the technical terms from creeping in. For instance, if you pay much attention to website URLs, you may have noticed that some websites have PHP somewhere in their address, and others include ASP.
PHP and ASP.net are two programming languages with plenty of distinctions and plenty of vocal proponents. Some of the techies you will run into will argue passionately on behalf of PHP, while others have a marked preference for ASP.net.
But which one of these tech tongues should your website be coded in—and what exactly do you need to know about these different languages?
Some Basic Definitions
First off, PHP is a web programming language that’s been around since 1995, and was first designed to produce dynamic webpages. PHP can generate HTML code and even be integrated into HTML, which is a nice bit of synergy. Currently, PHP is used in many millions of websites, including some that you’ve probably heard of—like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia. It's also the language of choice for popular content management systems like WordPress.
ASP.NET is a direct competitor with PHP, and both of them produce dynamic websites. So what’s the big difference? It all boils down to one simple distinction: PHP is open source technology. That means it is not a proprietary software, and anyone can use it. ASP.NET, meanwhile, is a commercial product that was designed and is marketed by Microsoft. It should be no surprise that some of the most popular websites on which it is used include MSN.com and Live.com.
PHP and ASP.NET: Further Distinctions
Here are a few additional considerations:
- PHP works on any number of platforms—Linux, UNX, Windows, and beyond—while ASP.NET works primarily just with Windows platforms.
- Because it is open source and much more common, it can also be much less expensive to have your site developed in PHP, generally speaking.
- Speed is also a factor, and programmers will generally tell you that PHP runs a little faster.
And the Winner Is…
Honestly, you could make a case for either one, though the use of PHP on sites like Facebook and Google probably tells you something. Overall, PHP is the better option for most websites, and it’s the one we recommend and generally use here at VIEO.
You can learn more about some of the basics of planning your company website design by checking out our free, comprehensive ebook!
Editor's Note: This post is an updated, rewritten version of one originally published on 8/29/12.