What is Headless WordPress?

What is Headless WordPress?

WordPress is a simple yet powerful CMS (Content Management System) for building websites. Its ecosystem comprising themes, diversified plugins, and other resources makes it a popular choice among developers and business owners. As of 2021, over 455 million sites have chosen WordPress as their CMS. That’s the power it holds! You can add more power and flexibility to your CMS with headless WordPress.

As a dominant CMS, businesses that appreciate their website’s simplicity and favor an economical way of building a website prefer WordPress. And with the headless feature, web building becomes more effortless. The headless WordPress decouples your website’s content offering a flexible solution with multi-channel distribution web performance.

But what does the world of headless WordPress capable of? Should I convert WordPress to headless? Can a headless CMS for WordPress prove beneficial for my site?

To answer your queries, let’s dive in further!

Also, a hat tip to our Project Manager, Urooj Fatima, for this blog post idea.

What is Headless WordPress?

The concept of headless CMS for WordPress is new to many. However, expert developers have already started migrating to this framework.

We all know that a website consists of a backend and a front end. The latter is the part that demonstrates the appearance of the site to the user. On the contrary, the backend controls the site’s data and storage, allowing customization, content addition, and tweaking elements with coding.

So, what’s with headless WordPress? The headless architecture in WordPress separates the back end from the front end, allowing the developer to manage them individually. It empowers the developer to move the content from one platform to another hassle-free.

For instance, pushing new content all at once on Facebook, website, and Google Calendar is possible with headless WordPress with a multi-channel publishing feature.

Back in 2016, the developers of WordPress created REST API. It gave them the power to make WordPress headless. Through this technique, any WordPress theme can now become headless.

The headless WordPress becomes more exciting because it disables WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), where the essential functions get managed by REST API directly.

How is Headless WordPress Unique from The Traditional WordPress?

Before worrying about whether to convert WordPress to headless or not, it’s crucial to understand the core difference between headless and traditional CMS. The traditional CMS has website content and front end stored in the same WordPress architecture.

It is excellent for users with minimal development knowledge, where developers can use simple predefined frameworks like CSS, PHP, and JavaScript.

Headless WordPress is a different approach that has recently gained traction. It allows you to use WordPress as an API with no front-end interface, so you never need to worry about updating themes or plugins again! It’s also a more secure option for running WordPress on the web as it separates the data from the front-end application.

In simpler terms, we can say Headless WordPress is a new trend in the WordPress world. It is a server-side solution that allows you to build and run WordPress without needing a web server. On the other side, traditional WordPress requires a web server to run, which means it needs to be installed on your computer or hosted on an external service. Headless WordPress does not require any of these things, which makes it more efficient and scalable.

Interestingly, with headless WordPress, developers can leverage other frameworks and languages such as Ruby, Angular, Vue, React, etc.

Let’s discuss the critical differences between both:

Security

One of the benefits of headless WordPress is that it protects the site from security threats better than traditional WordPress. It allows installation on a private server securing the data from vulnerabilities, such as file inclusion, cross-site scripting, brute force attacks, and malware.

Better DevOps

DevOps allows better creation and management of continuous pipelines with git-flow. The frontend execution becomes seamless, where you can merge the testing databases with the production environment, creating something similar to WP Engine.

Scalability

The traditional WordPress allows developers to depend on page builders to create a better user experience. This makes the architecture heavy with site loading issues.

However, headless WordPress allows developers to manage static sites in a lighter design infrastructure. Thus, no issues with loading time at all.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Headless WordPress

There are several benefits of headless WordPress. However, with pros, there are always some cons that should not be ignored.

Headless WordPress Advantages

At this point, we have already covered several benefits of converting traditional WordPress to headless. However, there are plenty of other pros as well that you must consider.

Enhanced Performance

In traditional WordPress, the hosting server constructs an HTML page whenever requested. Therefore, the server must run MySQL and PHP processes to fetch necessary resources directly from the database, assemble the information into a page, and send it to the user. This process slows down the page loading time, hurting the overall user experience.

However, if the developer leaves the frontend delivery on a separate application, the site’s speed improves drastically. There would also be no need for scripting when the visitor visits the site. The content will be fetched from the database, assembled into a pre-rendered HTML page, and sent to the visitors on request.

That’s the power of headless WordPress, which enhances the overall performance and speed of the site, especially when the site is big with tons of traffic!

Frontend Flexibility

WordPress allows developers to innovate with the front end with hundreds of customizable themes and plugins. However, many developers don’t desire to control the site in such a manner.

What your headless CMS for WordPress does is that it keeps the CMS part and outsources the front end virtually to any other software. Always remember that the software must make requests to WordPress API.

Mostly WordPress is built on JavaScript and PHP. But going headless allows the developers to retrieve the site’s content and package it in a way that doesn’t limit it. The headless WordPress ensures the work keeps progressing without the concerns of framework usage for developers.

Headless WordPress can also change the frontend system, assist in redesigning the site, or build the site from scratch.

Multichannel Publishing

It is another headless WordPress advantage. During the initial phase of the business, the core work of WordPress could be on desktops. However, with scaling businesses, the demand exceeds additional interfaces like social media sites, virtual assistants, mobile apps, and smart devices.

In this case, the headless WordPress is a centralized source for multiple publishing channels. Once the content gets added, use it seamlessly on mobile, website, applications, etc.

Moreover, a single change in CMS will automatically reflect it across all the connected devices. With the traditional CMS, you must reformat content and manage scalability.

Headless WordPress Disadvantages

There is nothing that is flawless! With benefits come cons that everyone must understand. Following are the disadvantages you need to know!

Extra Work Load

When going headless, you will need an extra front end to manage it separately. Thus, the workload will be additional. For many businesses, it’s extra work and time-consuming.

Expensive Solution

Another headless WordPress disadvantage is its cost. The traditional WordPress is a free CMS that anyone can customize with no coding knowledge. However, headless WordPress needs expertise, so businesses need to hire a developer. It will increase the cost of hiring.

No Access to WordPress Prominent Feature

You will lose access to the WYSIWYG editor that enables the live preview feature. Testing the front-end user experience will become a challenge.

What Headless WordPress Changes for Developers and Users?

Headless WordPress is the future of web development. The developers can unlock the key to ultimate freedom with flexibility while using the right tools for the right job!

Headless WordPress lets marketers control the content and predict new channels to publish freely. On the other hand, the users will get the same user experience as traditional WordPress. However, the performance and site loading time would be impeccable.

Need more assistance and information on going headless with WordPress? The detailed presentation on headless WordPress by Ivan Popov and Headless WordPress and Content Management System will help you understand easily.

Did you know some plugins can help convert your traditional site to headless? Sounds interesting, right? You can check here for details.

Wrap Up

The headless WordPress is not killing off the traditional CMS. It’s not here to replace it, either! Headless WordPress is a better option, enhancing the user experience beyond imagination.

However, adopting headless WordPress depends on the needs of your business. If you can afford a professional developer, then going headless is impressive. But with a novice developer, keeping it traditional can save you from costly mistakes.

Our team at Genetech has decades of expertise in WordPress Development. You can check our portfolio to see the excellent work our team of experts has done for different clients.

Headless WordPress is the future, so let’s get started.

Habiba Murtaza

I am a CodeGirls graduate with a passion for tech and content creation, currently working as a technical content writer at Genetech Solutions, one of Pakistan's leading software houses.

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