What are Programming Languages & What are They Used For?

You have likely seen one or more of the acronyms like CSS, HTML, SQL, and PHP or heard someone talking about Java or Python. To start with, these strings of letters actually have some meaning in web development, Java isn’t coffee, and Python is not the snake. Each of these languages performs an essential function as part of the web development process to ensure you have a professional website that functions perfectly.


What is a Programming Language?

Like the wide array of human languages, programming languages were developed to allow people to communicate with computers. Programming languages are actually less like languages and more like translators. A programming language translates the instructions and data we give to computers from something a person can understand into information a computer understands. The part of programming languages that computers understand is called binary. The way that we input the information that is translated into binary is the programming language.


What are the Most Common Programming Languages?

Below, we’ve compiled the basics on some of the most commonly used programming languages.


HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

  • Development – First released for public use in 1993, development began in 1980.
  • Uses – HTML is used to create structure for all of the content on a website. It is not actually a programming language as much as, like the name suggests, it is a markup language. Like document programs (Word, Pages, etc.), HTML is used to format and layout the basic text, images, and design elements on a webpage.



  • Development – a general purpose programming language developed in 1994.
  • Uses – this programming language is versatile, and it is often used in conjunction with HTML to customize website templates, content management systems, and other frameworks. Specifically, PHP is often used to create more customization for WordPress websites.


CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

  • Development – First proposed in 1994 as an easily standardized language for website design.
  • Uses – This is a style sheet language used to create the look and feel of the website. This is often referred to as a web design language rather than a web development language as it is linked to the design elements of the website.



  • Development – Originally standardized in 1998 to streamline the training and education process for new computer programs.
  • Uses – This is a low level programming language (more difficult for people to read, but closer to the binary level understood by the computer) used for numerous purposes, and it is easily manipulated and combined with other programming languages to perform almost any website function.



  • Development – released by Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) in January 1993.
  • Uses – This is the most popular programming language in the world. It is flexible and easily utilized for a range of projects. Java is the best programming language for developing Android-friendly mobile applications. It is based on C++, but it was designed to be easier to understand and learn.



  • Development – Created in 1995 to be the programming language of the web.
  • Uses – JavaScript is used to make websites more interactive and user-friendly. JavaScript is mainly a frontend development language, but new technologies make it possible to use JavaScript for backend development as well.


SQL (Structure Query Language)

  • Development – Developed by IBM in the 1970s.
  • Uses – This is the main programming language used for database driven websites. It is a language that allows programmers to instruct computers on how to manage, analyze, and update large amounts of information.



  • Development – Created nearly 50 years ago in 1972.
  • Uses – Developed as one of the first programming languages to allow for numerous functions. Applicable for almost any program needs, including creating operating systems.


C# (C-Sharp)

  • Development – Created in 2000 by Microsoft to rival Java.
  • Uses – This is a high level programming language (less difficult for people to read, but farther from the binary level understood by the computer) designed specifically to be simple to use, and it combines aspects of C and C++. C# is the main programming language used for software, programs, and apps powered by Microsoft, and it is often used for game development.



  • Development – Research and trials started in 1980, and Python was available for use at the end of 1989.
  • Uses – One of the highest level (closest to what is “readable” by people) and beginner-friendly programming languages. It makes it easy to use for those who are new to programming, and it is a very teachable language to help individuals better understand the basics of computer programming. It is extremely versatile, meaning you can use Python for just about any programming application you can think of from website design to game development.



  • Development – Early versions of Ruby were conceived in the early 1990s, and it was released in December of 1995.
  • Uses – This is another high level (“readable”) programming language that offers creative ways to interact with computer systems and solve complicated programming issues, making it ideal for quickly developing web apps that function well.


How are Programming Languages Used on Websites?

Programming languages have numerous different functions, but like human communication, these languages are used to allow us to talk to your website. Different parts of the website (text, images, design elements, links, etc.) speak different languages. In order to communicate to the website what it needs to do, we use the appropriate language.


Want to Talk More About Programming Languages?

Whatever programming language you want your website to speak, one of the FHGs team members is here to help. You don’t need to learn every programming language to have a site that looks like you’re an expert – let us take care of that. If you’re interested in learning more about programming languages and how they’re used on your site, don’t hesitate to ask one of our sales team members when you call to set up your new business website.

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