It is not easy to make the choice of a PHP framework. A lot goes into choosing the proper PHP framework especially if you want to use it on a long term basis. A wrong choice of PHP framework may lead to certain disadvantages, like, increased development time, the need for hiring more skilled staff which may not be easy to find. Let us take a look at Yii vs Zend vs Code Igniter.
Let us start with Yii which is a framework that perfectly fits well between the other two frameworks i.e Zend and Code Igniter. It is quite easy to learn and implement even if you do not have much experience in PHP. It is larger than the Code Igniter framework and comparatively smaller that the Zend framework. It requires less code in order to get the things done along with offering you a number of useful features.
Zend framework is a good framework since it is properly designed and allows you to do stuff without having to learn any new language. But it requires a skilled web developer to write code even for a simple task. It is a bit slow without opcode caching. It is also complex and quite difficult for those who are not acquainted with the various patterns relating to the enterprise application architecture. Zend framework is highly complex and that is the reason why it is not a preferred choice.
Now regarding Code Igniter framework there are many things about it that people fall in for, like its simplicity and completeness. It is undoubtedly an easy framework that does not require any unnecessary codes like Zend framework. But it does lack a few things when there is a need to develop some highly complex applications unlike the Yii and Zend frameworks.