Probably most of you know that ESP8266 can be used as WiFi connectivity module or as stand alone programmable device with same internet features. Anyway for serious applications probably it is best to use it as module along with another microcontroller. Electro-labs have shared pretty neat development board based on PIC18F microcontroller which comes with buttons, LEDs, LCD, FT232RL based USB connectivity and integrated ESP8266 module.
WiFi module can be controlled by microcontroller or directly from computer via FT232RL chip. Normally ESP8266 module is controlled with AT commands sent from microcontroller or from computer terminal.