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What programming language is your website developed in, and why should you care?

May 25th 2010

Do you know what technology was used when building your website? Does it really matter? Whether you've thought about it or not, it's knowing the facts about how it could effect your business...

One school of thought could be, so long as it works and achieves your business’ objective, no.

This thinking is perfectly fine, until you need to develop your website further or more importantly find a developer and platform that can take your website to the next level.

A little history?
To generalise you could put website development technologies in to two categories: Microsoft, or non-Microsoft (Betamax or VHS if you will!).

Circa 1996 onwards, Microsoft introduced their well developed Visual Basic technology (VB) to website development in the form of Active Server Pages (ASP).
ASP was quick to learn, and powerful in that it was easy to create a database driven website with very little programming experience. It became popular with entry-level web developers and experienced programmers looking to move to the web. Running on a Microsoft Windows server platform, it also suited most businesses that used Microsoft products as a core part of their business.

For non-Microsoft developers, technologies such as Perl and CGI were also popular however not so widely adopted and in some case more specialist. These technologies require the long serving and well established UNIX/Linux platform.

As things moved on, PHP started to become popular with those not wishing to jump on the Microsoft band-wagon as a well documented, easy to learn, and flexible language, however in the early stages wasn’t as powerful and well developed as many comparable languages.

Fast-track to 2002 and Microsoft announced its new .NET programming platform. This replaced the popular ASP technology, and offered a far more powerful toolset, aimed in part at enabling existing Windows developers to develop for the web with a minimal learning curve.

This was a significant step forward in one sense; however the complexity and power of ASP.NET came at a price. Compared to its predecessor, it was complex and a steep learning curve.

ASP.NET to some became a daunting learning curve, and to many developers new and old, PHP become a better adopted alternative and FREE. At this point, the shift began!

So today?
PHP as a language is well adopted and without question the most popular language for most small to medium scale websites. Microsoft’s ASP.NET is also a strong contender and continues to hold its own.

Why does all this matter?
In our opinion some 70% of most web development agencies will use PHP as their language of choice for small to medium scale websites. It is a language that is productive and easy to learn and well suited too many websites.

For more complex websites with high volumes of transactions or users, consider Microsoft .NET or Java. If you need integration with third party systems, Microsoft products (such as Microsoft Office) or external web services, Microsoft .NET is a good route to consider.

For us at FL1, we’ve got an equally strong footing in ASP, ASP.NET and PHP and dare we say; we’re different for that simple fact. That said; each technology is quite different in its own way and better suited to different types of website.

For more information drop us a line at or call us on 01727 739812.