What Is Headless WordPress and How to Use It

Programming

Do you wonder why more and more people are inclining to headless WordPress? Headless WordPress is a process that does not require using WordPress to develop the front end of a website. By default, WordPress functions as a website’s backend instead of the front end. However, users can use any platform to link WordPress with the support of API for their website’s front end.

A headless WordPress can confuse many people about how to create such a website. As a result, developers will learn to use headless architecture to develop websites using technologies like React JS, Angular JS, etc.

What is Headless WordPress?

WordPress is the most popular web builder for the many benefits it offers. However, it comes with limitations. For instance, you cannot publish your post across different platforms with a WordPress website. However, this is possible if you can take out WordPress from your website’s front end and use the backend CMS for your customization. 

Simply put, a headless WordPress utilizes the WordPress platform to manage a website’s content, including other frontend stacks to show the content to the target audience or site visitors. As a result, websites developed with this feature offer many benefits. For example, a content team or marketing team can work with the regular interface of WordPress, while developers take advantage of tools like GraphQL, React, and more when a headless WordPress is used. 

How to Use Headless WordPress?

  1. You should configure a customized redirection. This involves creating a redirection from a specific homepage site on WordPress to the target URL of the implemented new frontend.
  2. You should gather and show content with API. To achieve this step, a website owner must have converted their WordPress site into a headless CMS. When you have completed this, you need to retrieve your content from the site’s backend. Finally, you should display the content on the specific channel set up for this process with WordPress REST API. Some people use WPGraphQL for this setup.
  3. You have to build a new website with a frontend framework. Most developers opt for Gatsby, which is a static site generator for creating their new frontend.

Reasons to Use Headless CMS

When you use a headless architecture in your website, it divides the front end from its back end. This separation ensures that you use your backend for many features. For example, it can help you develop an app, create a website, content management system, and other advanced features.

While the common coding language used in WordPress is PHP and Javascript, you can use third-party applications when connecting your site to them. Today, people can incorporate Python, Ruby, and other languages into their WordPress. That’s what headless WordPress does. This means that developers can code an entire site in any language of their choice.

Developers can play around with a WordPress site with the headless WordPress feature. They can make use of incompatible WordPress frameworks on a site when they take advantage of this feature. In addition, they can connect their customized sites to the WordPress platform with the built-in REST API. 

Disadvantages of a Monolithic WordPress

Why do you have to abandon the normal WordPress functionalities for a Headless WordPress? Monolithic WordPress means that its frontend display has some limitations. The themes and plugins are tied to its functionality, making the frontend and backend to be together. Most installations on the monolithic WordPress use themes to show content. 

The themes consist of a myriad of plugins, templates, and more to ensure that websites are functional online. The disadvantage of this type of website is that contents depend on HTML to work perfectly. In addition, PHP can affect performance when delivering content to the website. When visitors come to a website, the browser needs to connect with the website server before sending the content required by the visitor.

This process can slow down the website and affect performance. However, with API, you enjoy more flexibility in delivering your content to your visitors via frontends.

Functionalities of Headless WordPress

When you decouple a content management system, it allows you to play around with codes and languages that were impossible with WordPress earlier. The headless WordPress will enable you to do the following:

  • A developer can use WordPress’s management tools to manage content or a standalone editorial tool.
  • You can code with any language and still use WordPress’s framework.
  • It allows users to decouple PHP for more advanced languages.
  • It can allow you to change frameworks and keep your content safe. 
  • Headless WordPress can be used on any type of software.
  • It allows different libraries and frameworks like React, Django, Ruby on Rails, Vue.js, and many to work on WordPress.
  • It offers a multichannel, cross-platform publishing option, which saves time when posting content.

Pros of Headless WordPress

  1. Swift Performance: When you power your WordPress website with Gatsby frontends, you experience improved responsiveness and faster load times, including a pre-fetched performance on the cutting edge.
  2. Advanced Security: Web owners who want improved security in their websites can use the headless architecture on their sites. Static website generators function as WordPress’ frontend. For instance, Gatsby does not have an access database or active website servers. This ensures that attack is extremely low, especially against DDOs attacks, malicious requests, and unintentional website exposure to attacks.
  3. Improved Flexibility: You can integrate your content into other website services with frontends. In addition, some WordPress plugins can achieve basic functionalities like sending out newsletters or sharing content on social media. However, you may not find an alternative to replace headless WordPress when it comes to cross-platform production.
  4. Multichannel Publishing: With a headless architecture design, you can enjoy using advanced interfaces like smart devices, Alexa, mobile apps to send your content to your targeted audience. Websites can explore the multichannel publishing features via frontends.

Cons of Headless WordPress

Here are some cons of using headless WordPress:

  1. It lacks a WYSIWYG editor: The live preview option seen in monolithic WordPress is lost in headless CMS. Users cannot check what the visitors would see.
  2. Complicated programming: You will need the support of a headless architecture designer if you want to explore this WordPress option.
  3. It requires more maintenance: The decoupling of the WordPress setup demands more maintenance in terms of security and updates.
  4. Strict credentialing: This option demands a different method of credentialing visitors, which is a complex process to achieve a secure environment.
  5. It does not leave a website intact: Owners may not experience 100% security when using the headless CMS on their sites.
  6. The process is expensive: Headless WordPress is a costly process that requires advanced coding and more maintenance.

Conclusion

Headless WordPress offers you many benefits, but it comes with drawbacks as well. Headless WordPress offers swift performance, improved flexibility, multichannel publishing, and advanced security. On the contrary, it requires maintenance and complicated programming. So consider your requirements and choose accordingly.

By Lori Wade

Lori Wade is a writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from eCommerce to web development and new technologies. If you are interested in the above topics, you can find her on LinkedIn. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

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