PHP is a standard programming language used on 78.9% of all websites worldwide. Because of its popularity, there’s an abundance of developers with vast PHP experience. Thinking about hiring one? In the table below, discover our choice of the top PHP companies. Just below it, you’ll learn all about the custom evaluation methodology we used to curate our list, and you’ll find a comprehensive guide to help you shortlist and choose the best partner for your business needs.
Shortlisting the most competitive candidates and choosing the best PHP development company requires more than just Googling the best providers. We approached the matter from multiple angles, taking into consideration these companies’ management and communication capabilities, security and performance monitoring, and customer satisfaction, as well as the services they offer. Take a more detailed look below:
Our journey starts with an evaluation of each company’s website. We want to establish that PHP is an important part of its technology suite. Once we verify that, we investigate the company’s history. PHP development dates back to 1994, so we appreciate companies with more years of experience.
The next step is checking whether the PHP development companies have any certifications relevant to PHP programming. Some of the certifications we consider are the following:
Recognized as the industry standard for PHP exams, the Zend Certification programs are designed to test the skills and technical knowledge needed in today’s job market. The tests encompass all the important aspects of PHP development, from its basics and object-oriented programming to I/O and error handling. The Zend Certified Engineer is the highest accreditation for PHP available.
Another important accreditation for a PHP application development company is the MySQL Developer certification. This validates a developer’s skills and knowledge across a wide range of areas involved in writing apps with the MySQL database server.
The PHP companies’ customer satisfaction rates influence their ranking on our list. To check this, we go beyond the testimonials found on each company’s website, as firms tend to display only the ones that present them in the best light.
Instead, we do extensive research across several third-party platforms such as Clutch and GoodFirms, looking for relevant customer reviews. Having a few unfavorable reviews isn’t a legit reason to disregard that company; instead, we consider all the bad points mentioned, and their commentary decides whether their rankings will climb or drop.
Yes, we’re ranking PHP development companies. However, PHP as a language can run on anything and do almost anything. Therefore, there are many platforms to consider and review, even CMSs like WordPress.
Raw PHP coding allows for freedom of choice, leaving a lot of space for innovation. Plus, it’s affordable, and the developers that offer this service will be able to take the project right away and finish it quickly. But as enticing as this sounds, no one will actually understand the raw code.
Why is this bad? First of all, since the code will only be understandable to the developer who wrote it, you’ll be stuck with them. Plus, the code is unscalable, and, at some point, you will have to rewrite everything because you’ll eventually face a tech debt. To help you avoid all this and write your code for the long term, we considered the PHP companies that offer framework-based PHP coding.
When it comes to frameworks, we’re looking for the following:
Laravel is a free, open-source PHP framework that handles complex web apps faster than other frameworks. It eases tasks such as authentication, sessions, caching, and routing, thus simplifying the development process. Laravel developers build apps with complex backend requirements, leveraging this framework’s great features, such as data migration, security, and MVC architecture support.
A popular choice among PHP developers, CodeIgniter is a powerful framework with a small footprint perfect for developing dynamic websites. It comes with pre-built modules that ease the process of building robust app components. Unlike other frameworks, CodeIgniter is easy to install and also considerably faster. Other key features include error handling, top-notch security tools, an MVC architecture, and clear documentation.
Symfony is one of the oldest PHP MVC frameworks perfect for large-scale PHP website development projects. Easy to install and configure, this framework comes with reusable components and integrates with third-party libraries.
Widely adopted by PHP development companies, CakePHP is a simple framework that makes building feature-rich apps seamless and faster. It comes with great security features, including input validation, SQL injection prevention, CSRF and XSS protection, and input validation, making it perfect for commercial apps. In addition, CakePHP has fantastic documentation and premium support.
Suitable for all types of apps, Yii is a universal, component-based PHP framework. Thanks to its robust security features, it’s mostly used for ecommerce projects, CMS forums, and other ventures that require high security. Plus, it boasts great speed and performance, and it’s extensible.
This object-oriented framework is highly extendable thanks to features such as inheritance and interfaces. Built on the agile methodology, it allows PHP web development companies to deliver high-quality apps to enterprises like large banks and IT departments. The Zend framework also includes MVC components, data encryption, great documentation, and easy integration with external libraries.
Phalcon is a full-stack framework that employs the MVC web architecture design pattern. It’s the preferred PHP framework for developers who create highly configurable enterprise apps. Thanks to its efficient memory utilization, Phalcon optimizes performance. Important features include execution speed, top security, asset management, and a universal autoloader.
FuelPHP is a simple PHP 5.4+ framework with HMVC support (hierarchical model view controller). Unlike MVC, HMVC doesn’t need to duplicate to show on multiple pages. Other notable features are its URL routing system, RESTful implementation, caching system, and vulnerability protection, plus its outstanding security.
Suitable for beginners and experienced PHP development companies alike, PHPixie provides a solid foundation and total flexibility. It implements the HMVC design pattern and has great features, such as object-relational mapping, authentication and authorization, caching, and input validation. Plus, it offers excellent security and support.
Slim is among the most popular PHP micro-frameworks used for developing simple but powerful apps and APIs. With features such as session, cookie encryption, URL routing, and client-side HTTP caching, Slim is mostly used for small web apps. On top of that, it provides active maintenance and great documentation.
Necessary to smooth out the development process, IDEs (integrated development environments) include a source code editor, automation tools, and a debugger. Here are some of the IDEs we look for when evaluating PHP web development companies:
PHPStorm comes with a set of interactive features that ease the web development process. It works with the most important frameworks and supports CMSs such as Magento, WordPress, and Drupal. Additionally, this enterprise-grade IDE enables the live editing of front-end technologies, as well as refactoring, unit testing, and debugging. PHPStorm also integrates with a control system, MySQL development tool, remote deployment, composer, vagrant, and more.
NetBeans has excellent support resources for the key PHP frameworks. Its main features include code generation tools, code templates, refactoring, code folding, and smart code completion. When it comes to debugging, PHP developers can use xDebug or a command line locally or remotely.
NuSphere supports the latest PHP version and many other PHP frameworks along with CMSs like Joomla and WordPress. Additionally, NuSphere can run unit tests for local and remote projects, and there’s a great stack of features, including dynamic syntax highlighting, code insights for PHP, and more.
Zend Studio is arguably the most commercial PHP IDE. It’s enabled on Windows, Linux, and OS X, and it works with PHP’s latest versions. Featuring an intuitive user interface, Zend Studio offers a great suite of tools that simplify PHP software development. Some of the essential features include debugging with Zend Debugger and Zdebug, as well as integration with Z-Ray, Docker and GitFlow support, and support for mobile app development.
Aptana is one of the most useful tools a PHP software development company might utilize. Easy to set up and available for free, Aptana is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. It comes with syntax error annotations and supports DOM and CSS. Furthermore, it enables code formatting and auto-indexing, and it supports the PHP Debugger.
PHP is versatile in every sense, and it’s also compatible with multiple database types. We check if the companies specialize in a certain type. Even though this won’t affect their actual ranking, it helps us classify different PHP companies.
MySQL is the most popular relational database a PHP website development company puts to use. The enterprise edition comes with advanced features, tools, and technical support and aims to achieve the best levels of security, uptime, and scalability. Big apps and websites such as WordPress, Facebook, and Google are MySQL customers.
PostgreSQL is an object-relational database with a strong reputation for reliability and performance. Under its 9.4 release, this database implements multi-version concurrency control (MVCC) and offers advanced compression and optimization features. Thanks to its stability, it requires minimal maintenance, and the cost of ownership is lower compared to other databases.
Oracle is a relational database that PHP developers can access with the PHP OCI8 extension of the PDO_OCI Driver. This extension enables high performance and access to a rich set of features like transaction management, DRCP, external authentication, encryption, statement execution, client result caching, and more.
IBM-DB2 delivers unprecedented innovation for hybrid data management. For a PHP connection, it requires a PECL extension. Offering high-impact data insights, integration capabilities, and continuity, this relational database is used in large-scale ecommerce and ERP implementations.
Some of the other notable databases supported by PHP are Sybase, CUBRID, filePro, FrontBase, MaxDB, Mongo, Paradox, SQLSRV, and Tokyo Tyrant.
This is a standard process for the PHP web development companies on our list. We feature the ones that use the latest and greatest tools for this purpose.
StoryPlayer enables developers to leverage the test automation of the functional and non-functional code requirements. This open-source testing framework supports the TDD approach, and it’s used for both the back end and front end. Modular and easy to use, a PHP firm can extend or customize StoryPlayer based on the project requirements.
PHPUnit is an automated testing framework for writing tests to detect errors in a PHP app’s code. It involves testing small portions of the code individually. PHP development companies typically use it via the command line, and it provides a TestCase class that can be extended as per the client’s needs. On top of that, it enables a PHP developer to use pre-written declaration methods to control app behavior.
Selenium is an open-source automation tool supported by all operating systems. It makes it possible for developers to write user acceptance tests that examine an app as a whole. Additionally, it has its own WebDriver API that can drive a browser how a real user would use it, either locally or remotely.
PHP developers would use Codeception for the acceptance, unit, and functional testing of web apps. It allows for the configuration of different modules according to development needs. Additionally, it can be integrated with many PHP frameworks—such as Yii, Symfony, and Zen—which helps establish an efficient development workflow.
Inspired by test-first development, PHPSpec requires developers to write the specifications first, therefore directing the application code to behave in a certain manner. The next step is writing the code that will meet those directions and finally refactor it.
Other important testing tools we consider are Behat, Simple Test, Cucumber, Kahlan, Storyplayer, Peridot, and Atoum.
PHP debugging is a daunting but inevitable task that professional PHP web development companies should have mastered. In addition, we check the tools we consider highly relevant in this process:
Xdebug is a PHP extension for debugging and profiling. It offers a remote debugger, automatic slack traces, call logging, enhanced output, and code coverage information. Additionally, the tool is very adaptable and configurable. Xdebug also has a profiler for discovering any obstacles in the code.
Kint makes debugging simple. It integrates with the Debug Bar plugin, and it can be used for debugging in the live environment. Kint is also a cool tool for dumping variables — the variable content is displayed in a comprehensive way, ensuring PHP developers don't miss anything.
Designed to help developers debug variables, Krumo provides a simple block that can be easily configured to show all the elements of a specific array or object. It has built-in print_r and var_dump functions, and the information is displayed in a structured manner using CSS and DHTML.
The PHP Debug Bar comes with data collectors for standard PHP features and integrates easily with any project. With a clean and easy-to-use interface, this tool can monitor traffic and audit CSS elements.
The best PHP developers should have an arsenal of tools to monitor the performance of the applications they build to ensure the app is up and running, measure server-side response time, and monitor real-user performance. Knowing how the apps are performing is crucial in order to make informed decisions and ensure a top-notch user experience. Here are the most important tools we consider in this regard:
Retrace is a powerful monitoring tool with an error tracking feature that provides deep performance insights. It helps PHP developers spot and address bugs efficiently while also monitoring your containerized applications quickly and easily.
New Relic collects user data and performs deep analysis and infrastructure monitoring, helping developers understand a PHP app’s performance, obstacles, and dependencies.
AppDynamics is a feature-rich tool that offers end-to-end monitoring services and code-level diagnostics for PHP software development projects, translating them into real business insights that help businesses deliver an amazing customer experience.
To avoid malicious attacks, apps shouldn’t have any security issues. Every company that lands on our list must apply the best security practices, including regular PHP updates, cross-site scripting, session hijacking, document root setup, the use of SSL certificates for HTTPS, and more.
Because security is vital when it comes to hiring PHP developers, there are several important tools for protection:
RIPS is a great tool for security monitoring. Designed to detect complex security issues in PHP apps, this tool performs an in-depth analysis in mere minutes. The results are accurate and focus on meaningful findings with no false positives.
SonarPHP is a static code analyzer using advanced techniques such as pattern matching and data flow analysis. Fast and accurate, it checks the code against over 140 rules.
With more than 300 analyzers dedicated to PHP, Exakat provides real-time static analysis for PHP version compliance, security risks, validating the code in continuous integration, and reinforcing best practices.
An important practice for PHP companies, development documentation, covers the activities regarding product development, making the process more organized. Since documentation requires paperwork before development, as well as during it, developers should leverage certain tools:
PHPDocumentor is an open-source tool that generates documentation directly from your PHP source code. It acts as supplemental documentation and features a web-based command-line interface. It comes with a flexible template system and provides information in the form of graphs and reports.
PHPDox is the perfect solution for API documentation for PHP apps. It includes details like complexity information and code coverage, and it’s possible to extend its functionality with several plugins.
Besides the company’s specialties, we consider how they handle their projects. Communication is a key attribute when you’re looking to hire PHP developers. They need to be able to convey their ideas effectively via different methods, including phone calls, emails, and video calls.
We also favor companies that use the agile project management method because it’s considered the best for software developers in general. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that the developer and the client are on the same page about the strategy, requirements, and expected outcome for a project’s success.
PHP is a well-known programming language that brings about huge competition on the market. Working with an experienced PHP web development company can cost you as low as $25 per hour or $1,000 per project. We considered companies that offer both types of billing. It’s important to note that most companies allow for budget scaling as the project grows.
Now that you have our list of the best companies, as well as the evaluation methodology behind it, it’s time to use it wisely. Continue reading to learn the four crucial steps to choosing the best PHP specialist for you.
Scanning the potential company’s past projects is a crucial step toward choosing the right partner for you. Check whether they’ve worked with a client that’s in the same industry as you, and consider how they handled the project.
Another crucial aspect that will help you shortlist these PHP companies is deciding which framework you want to use. If you’re not sure about this, it’s best to do some research into the features and benefits of each framework as outlined above.
Make sure to outline your goals and objectives in as much detail as possible. Think about what’s vital for you, what functions you need, and what you want to achieve. The more specifications you give to the potential developer, the more precise the estimates will be.
Last but not least, determine your budget. The cost of PHP companies can vary, and it’s best that you know how much you’re willing to invest in it beforehand. This will further ease the process of shortlisting the firms and help you lock down the best one for you.