Freelance Web Designer Blog

What is PHP on My WordPress Site and Why Would I Be Billed For It?

PHP is programming that is customarily included as a free feature on a shared hosting account. If you have a WordPress website you should be aware it and how it may effect the cost of your site.

What is PHP?

PHP is a programming language that is used for WordPress websites, WordPress plugins, and for functions like contact forms on some websites that don’t use WordPress. PHP is installed by your hosting company on your server and the PHP code on your website uses this programming to create pages, blog posts, run contact forms, and more!

Why a PHP upgrade?

PHP is upgraded periodically by its developers, just like Windows and other programs are upgraded. The version available on most hosting accounts at this time is 7.2. When WordPress updates and plugin updates are made somtimes the updates include code that relies on a newer version of PHP, so it’s important to have an up to-date version of PHP software on the server.

How is PHP updated on the server?

The easiest and therefore the preferred way to update PHP on the server is to login to your hosting account and select to use a newer version of PHP.


Some hosting companies are now “monetizing” PHP. Here are two examples.

The first PHP tale involved a client’s website that slowed down to a snail’s pace. A check of the hosting account revealed that it was operating with a very old version of PHP. However, we could not easily update the PHP. The hosting company required the website be moved to a new server that had the newer version of PHP installed. This move was expensive and time consuming because the new server was more expensive and there was a charge to move the site.

The next upgrade issue was a real slick maneuver that just doesn’t feel right to the client (or me). A client received a letter from their hosting company. It said the client would be assessed an additional $8.71 per year for their failure to upgrade to a newer version of PHP. So the client called and the PHP was updated however the additional billing was still in place. It eventually took my intervention to get the charges removed. Frankly, I’ve never seen any other hosting company that initiates an upgrade at the client’s expense if not requested by the client.

Design to Spec doesn’t sell hosting. Because we’re not aligned with any one company we know how many of the hosting providers work and can make sound recommendations on their plans and customer service. Ask us.

Have You Tested Your Contact Form?

got email? maybe not!

Take a break. Open up your WordPress site and try sending an email to yourself through your contact form. Now check your emails to be sure it was received… be patient… wait… wait. Still not received? You may have a problem.

What’s the cause?

Have you changed your email address? If you’ve started using a different email address or have never set up your address in your email client (your reader) then you won’t be getting contacts from your website that use that address.

What’s your PHP? WordPress uses a programming language called PHP for short. It sits on the server. If your hosting company is not updated to a latest version of PHP your contact form may not work. Recently a client’s host was running 5.3 and when updated it was running 7.0.25 which meant the contact form started working again.

Has SMTP been configured? If your WordPress site hasn’t been configured to send emails using SMTP, then your form is may be dead.

And the final point may seem the most obvious: Have your WordPress plugins been updated? Also, has your WordPress software been updated?

If your contact form is dead, call Design to Spec. I’ll get to the cause and get it fixed.

Smart Phones – Dumb SPAM: What’s The Future?

Just my opinion as I size up the future of the phone.

Remember the Federal “Do Not Call” list? It was started to help land-line users block pesky aluminum siding sales calls. The promise of the list never kept up with the rapid growth in the use of cell phones. As cell phone use continues to grow we have to think about a near future that may put a damper on the ability of businesses to legitimately do business by phone.

Smartphones have helped users to partially conquer SPAM calls by using call-blocking functions in lieu of the government’s weak “Do Not Call” list. But what happens when perhaps millions of numbers are blocked from our phones?

  • How will you know if your new telephone number hasn’t been blacklisted on millions of smartphones because of prior abuse?
  • If abusive phone numbers are identified and retired from use, how will the phone companies create new phone numbers?

No one can predict the future but we may see what’s coming our as a result of the regular phone SPAMMING that occurs. Phone companies have answered past grow the same response– the addition of more area codes to create more phone numbers.

There doesn’t seem to be an appetite for stopping phone SPAM and there’s the prospect on the horizon that even our nextdoor-neighbors may all share different area codes. Phone SPAM could be the harbinger of the end of the phone call as we know it and perhaps the end of even renaming the smartphone to something very un-phone-y.

Home Page, Splash Page, or Landing Page?

There’s some confusion between different types of website pages. Sometimes I overhear the terms home page, splash page and landing page being used interchangeably like they are all the same thing. There are differences between these 3 that shouldn’t be overlooked.  

A home page is the main page of any website. It’s the page a web user sees when they go to your website address. It may be a grouping of your featured products, links and menus to assist the user navigating around the site, or an abbreviated page that acquaints a web visitor with the basics of the business.  WordPress sites can have a blog on the home page.

A splash page hearkens back to when Flash was used to animate home pages. A splash page usually relied on less text and more on graphics. Because they were skinny on text they often didn’t fair well in Google searches.

A landing page is a different page altogether. Landing pages are often sales pages that tell a story, demonstrate value, and make an offer. They are like websites in miniature… everything is on one page rather than multiple pages. They can have their own unique URL, yet be hosted on the same server as the main website.  They can even be managed in WordPress using special plugins or unique templates. 

Do you need more help with starting your WordPress website? Contact Vanessa