Laravel is a powerful framework that allows you to spend time focusing on what you need to build—instead of spending hours figuring out how you will build it.
Other development frameworks tend to steal your dev team’s focus away from core features and force everyone to overthink, develop from scratch, or purchase functionality that Laravel gives offers right out of the box.
In this guide to Laravel application development, we dive into why it’s such a popular choice and how you can get the most out of Laravel when launching or rebuilding your product.
What is Laravel application development?
Laravel is a PHP framework that offers a lot of development packages and ready-to-use modules to simplify web development, making app development feel less like a coding marathon.
Laravel application development refers to the practice of using Laravel as your PHP framework to develop the backend of your modern web app or website. You can then use React, Vue.JS or Laravel Livewire for your frontend development.
Why choose Laravel development for your application
If you’re building a consumer app, the right framework choice is a little more complicated. But if you’re building a B2B SaaS product, Laravel wins hands down.
Here are 9 reasons why I recommend you choose Laravel.
1. Great documentation
Laravel offers great documentation that is easy to access and understand. It guides developers to make great decisions without having to think too hard about them.
For example, architecture is where people make a lot of mistakes. Other frameworks are not very opinionated about how you should build their architecture. You end up with a lot of software that’s terrible—not because the language or framework is bad—but because the developers didn’t know what they were doing and lacked clear direction.
Laravel’s excellent documentation not only helps developers build better software, but also makes it easier for you to add new developers to an existing project down the line.
2. All about the developer experience (DX)
Everything that the Laravel team does is about making sure the developer has a good experience as they’re writing code, getting things done, collecting feedback, testing, etc. There are tons of command line tools that are fun to use and really speed things up. This is just one of the many reasons why Laravel is a favorite amongst talented developers.
3. Pre-built fundamental SaaS features
A lot of features that SaaS companies need come with Laravel by default. For example, Laravel Socialite is an authentication package that lets users create an account and login with Google, Facebook, GitHub, Slack, and other popular options. It’s built out of the box, and is something that developers would otherwise spend a lot of time building. The Laravel Ecosystem also offers solutions for user text notifications, transactional emails, subscription payment processing, and tons more.
What’s more, these are all first-party packages, meaning that the core team in Laravel built the tech, not a third-party company. You don’t have to worry about the core functionality in your app all of a sudden becoming obsolete or going out of business.
4. Feature flag (turning on features for a portion of users)
Feature flag refers to the ability to turn on features for only a portion of your users. When you first launch a feature, you don’t want all of your users to have access to it. You should only share it with power users or beta program users at first. Then, after you’ve tweaked and optimized it, you roll it out to all the right users.
A lot of SaaS companies don’t implement feature flag out of the gate because it’s so complex. This is very hard to build and implement from scratch, but Laravel gives it to you free out of the bag. If you don’t use Laravel, you have to choose between developing it yourself or paying a lot of money for a monthly subscription to a product that adds this functionality to your application.
5. The Laravel Pulse dashboard
Laravel comes with the best reporting dashboard that I’ve seen of any framework. It’s called Laravel Pulse, and it shows how your app and servers are performing. There are all sorts of easy-to-surface insights, like how much of your server you’re utilizing, which servers are being utilized, how much memory you have, and more. In Pulse, you can drill down into your data for the last 24 hours, or 7 days, or any other time frame. You can also see the jobs being done in the backend and spy on the queue system, including slow queries, exceptions, and the cache. (Laravel’s queue system is also very well developed, other frameworks don’t even come close.)
Again, all of this is provided for free by default on Laravel. If you choose a different framework, you’ll need a subscription to New Relic or something similar.
6. Stellar performance
Laravel is very fast. PHP gets a bad rap because back in the day it was slow, but nowadays things have changed, and it is among the fastest languages available.
Plus, there are new technologies like FrakenPHP available for Laravel, making it one of the fastest frameworks out there.
7. Easy to deploy
When it comes to deploying your SaaS application, Laravel stands out as an exceptional choice due to its PHP foundation. PHP is universally adaptable and can be deployed on any type of server.
You’ll have a modern, cloud-based application that is easy to update and maintain.
8. Intuitive test-driven development
Test-driven development encourages developers to write tests for code before writing the actual code. This approach not only ensures the reliability and functionality of the code but also promotes better design decisions.
The biggest blocker to doing test-driven development is that it slows down development. Many times, people have to choose between building fast or writing a test.
But Laravel makes it easy and intuitive. Writing and configuring the texts is as close to using plain English as possible. You can set up tests with Pest, a PHP testing framework built by the Laravel core team.
9. Quick to build
At the end of the day, it all comes down to ease and speed.
With Laravel, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or spend time figuring everything out yourself. With other systems, you have to think about how the login system will work...how to set up the queue system...how to do tests...how to send emails to users...how to trigger Slack notifications for your team...how to bill customers...the list goes on.
But with Laravel, you get to focus on your core features and not building the things that every SaaS needs.
How Laravel application stacks up against the alternatives
Still considering other alternatives?
Here’s how Laravel stacks up against other frameworks, and why it still comes out on top.
Laravel versus NodeJS
However, NodeJS is not as well documented and most of its packages are not first-party built. All the base SaaS features are not included. Even if you find something to send an email, for example, it’s built by a third party. You have to research your options and choose the right one, only for the product to potentially stop being maintained someday. Multiply this risk by every element—from SMS notifications to UX translations—and you’ll see why SaaS founders are safer choosing Laravel.
Because nothing is standardized, developers build things in a lot of different ways. While Node is powerful, it gives developers too much freedom, allowing a lot of mistakes to be made. It’s particularly popular among junior developers (but it enables them to make decisions they’re not qualified to make).
Laravel versus Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is popular with a lot of large companies, like Shopify and Airbnb. For new companies though, it’s not ideal. Laravel is superior to Ruby on Rails because of the use of PHP. Ruby is not used everywhere and it’s not what developers are used to. The community is not as active, and it’ll be harder to attract top developers, many of whom would rather use PHP than Ruby.
Laravel versus Django
Django is a Python framework for building web applications that are fast, secure, and scalable. Django does offer pre-built modules that keep you from having to reinvent the wheel. But there aren’t as many pre-built features and packages as Laravel provides. Also, the developer community is not as active, meaning it’s harder to find developers who are fanatical about using the framework.
Frequently asked questions about Laravel
When determining whether or not to move forward with Laravel, these questions will probably come to mind. Below, we have answers to FAQs about Laravel.
Is Laravel free to use?
Yes, an open-source product, Laravel is completely free to use, even for commercial projects.
The company earns revenue by selling their own B2B SaaS products to help companies manage their Laravel servers and deployment, like Forge, Envoyer, and Vapor. This means that the Laravel team is constantly using their own framework to build paid products.
Is Laravel frontend or backend?
Laravel is a fullstack framework but can also be used only for backend development.
When developing with Laravel, we either use Laravel Livewire, Vue.js, or React for the frontend. We analyze each product individually to decide which one is the best fit.
Is Laravel popular?
Yes, Laravel is one of the most popular web development frameworks in the world. It may very well be the most popular, but that’s hard to quantify. Popularity matters because it means that the platform has staying power. When you choose to build an app with Laravel in 2024, you can rest assured that this framework and the active developer community behind it aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Is Laravel secure?
Yes, Laravel is regarded as a highly secure framework. Built-in security features protect your application against code injection and other cybersecurity attacks. Laravel is continuously updated with security patches to resolve issues. Of course, you’ll also need to follow best practices for development and deployment to ensure the security of your application, internal data, and user data.
What to look for in a Laravel app development firm
When hunting for Laravel development companies, it’s a good idea to think beyond Laravel skills.
An excellent product development firm should also offer:
Product strategy - Don’t hire a company who will build anything you ask for. They should offer product strategy to help you better understand user needs and validate your product concept before moving forward.
UX design - The firm should offer the Silicon Valley-style UX that users demand. No matter the industry, great UX will help you win more market share.
User testing - If you’re developing a new product or making major changes to an existing one, the firm should have a process in place for testing design prototypes with real target users.
Product management - The last thing you want is to have to wrangle and coordinate Laravel developers yourself. You should have a technical PM as your main point of contact.
DevOps - The firm should handle every aspect of initial deployment and continuous deployment using best practices so you don’t have to worry about coordinating different team members.
QA - Quality assurance is essential. In addition to using test-driven development, the company should also offer QA testing services to explore your app for bugs before they reach your users.
Ready to launch or revamp an app with Laravel?