Although WordPress themes and plugins offer users a wide variety of options for customization, this design has been criticized for not being as flexible as certain users would like it to be.

Instead, we’ll look at the main differences between a headless WordPress site and a regular WordPress site, as well as how headless WordPress might make your development more flexible.

The main difference between the two is how hard each one is to do. The majority of the time, using WordPress requires only a basic understanding of coding.

However, you will need to be well-versed in a number of different programming languages and frameworks if you want to get the most out of headless WordPress.

A proficient WordPress development company can help you out in the process when you need to create a website with headless WordPress as a CMS.

Now that we’ve provided an overview of your options, let’s take a look at the key differences between a headless WordPress website and the more traditional version of WordPress.

What is Headless CMS?

Conventionally, a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress will have two primary components that are relatively close to one another and intimately connected:

Frontend: This refers to the section of your website that users view when they visit.

Backend: The backend of your website is where you manage the content, appearance, settings, and other aspects of your online presence.

A Headless Content Management System, on the other hand, separates these two components, keeping only the backend intact. It is beneficial to split the frontend from the backend for the following reasons:

  • Both ends can be handled independently of one another.
  • Both the frontend and the backend have their own individual identities.
  • Any change made to one end has no impact on the core functioning of the other end, regardless of which end is modified.

What is The Headless WordPress CMS?

A headless CMS is a content management system that has no connection between the backend and the frontend of the system. This means that the frontend of the system is built using a different framework than the backend of the system.

What do you think about that? Does it sound a bit complicated to you?

Keeping things simple will make them easier for everyone to understand.

Like most CMS, WordPress has two components: The frontend (head) and the backend (body). “Frontend” refers to the part of the website that is visible to users and that allows them to interact with it. The backend of an application is made up of the code and the database that is stored on the server. Backends allow website administrators to manage and modify content.

The backend and frontend of a classic monolithic WordPress system are usually written in the same programming language and frameworks. They are both built into the same system as a single entity.

Therefore, it is known as a “coupled content management system.” Using the coupled CMS, you can manage both your resources and the graphics on the frontend (using themes and block editors) from the dashboard.

It is different from the standard WordPress CMS, which is called a headless CMS or decoupled CMS because the frontend (the head) is built with a separate, stand-alone framework. Due to the fact that the head is going to be disconnected and that a separate framework will be utilized, it is referred to as “headless”. Therefore, it is not headless but rather has a different head!

Headless CMSs nevertheless permit the uploading, creation, editing, and organization of material. Instead of publishing content directly to the frontend, a headless CMS gives a separate front-end solution access to its resources through a REST API. It is completely unconcerned with how the material appears to visitors.

A headless CMS is a content management system that has no connection between the backend and the front end of the system.
Image Courtesy- HubSpot

Pros of Headless WordPress

Increased Performance

You undoubtedly already understand the significance of this matter when it comes to loading times. Visitors won’t stick around on a website that takes more than three seconds to load, since nobody appreciates a sluggish website. This is another way that Headless WordPress CMS shows how valuable it is by being very helpful.

If you take away the frontend of WordPress, you get a lightweight content management system (CMS). Even if you post this information on a website that does not change, the delivery of your material will be significantly quicker and more responsive because all that will remain is the content database and API calls.

Your content will be easily readable on mobile devices as well, which is important to keep in mind given that mobile devices are responsible for more than half of all internet traffic.

High Security

Headless WordPress is a very secure content management system.

In all honesty, the Headless CMS approach is the only WordPress security plugin or measure that can keep your site as secure as it was designed to be by itself.

You may prevent hackers from gaining access to or abusing your content by separating the frontend from the backend of your website. This ensures that the backend resides in a separate location from the frontend.

Lightweight Design

Decoupling WordPress results in significant weight loss, which is one of the primary advantages of the headless CMS in comparison to a conventional content management system (CMS). 

Because of its development and plugins, traditional WordPress is incredibly sluggish and difficult to use. When you use a plugin for WordPress, you’re adding weight and scripts to your site, which slows it down.

Through the use of APIs, a headless WordPress site can achieve the same level of customization as a traditional WordPress site.

Better Scalability

A further essential factor to take into account is the enhanced scalability offered by headless WordPress. Because API calls are used to distribute content, the content database can continue to grow without causing any downtime for your users. This is because API calls are used.

It is important to note that Headless WordPress can be linked with nearly any other platform because there is no frontend to the site. As a consequence of this, it is flexible enough to make use of the most cutting-edge technology that is available at any particular point in time.

It is also possible to create a headless site with the help of Angular.

Multi-channel Content Publishing

One of the significant benefits of using a Headless WordPress architecture is that it grants you the ability to automatically distribute your content across a variety of channels all at the same time.

Because Static WordPress only has one content management system, there is no need to modify any of your content to make it compatible with other platforms. Instead, all you need to do is publish the content once, and the headless architecture will take care of everything else.

Rewrite As Much WordPress As You Want

It’s possible that not everyone will find this useful, but if you despise the way WordPress’ admin UI operates but are compelled to use it. You can rewrite as much of the administrative user interface as you want or need to in order to improve the administrative experience using the application programming interface (API). 

In a headless installation, the process of producing and publishing content is only one part of the overall experience; site administration may also be included.

After reading about the benefits of being headless, you might have noticed that the word “independence” appears more than once. Utilizing the WordPress API and detaching yourself from the platform will give you more control over the content, including what you can and cannot do with it.

Having said that, this is not unique to WordPress. Any headless CMS will allow you to accomplish this level of autonomy on your own.

Future-Proof Tech Stack

Future-Proof Tech Stack
Image Courtesy – MongoDB

A CMS with an API can integrate with the majority of platforms. Thus, you need not be concerned about a single framework becoming obsolete.

You can easily change technologies based on the requirements of both you and your customers, which will keep your technology stack resilient against the passage of time for as long as is humanly possible. 

In addition, because it is API-driven, the WordPress Headless CMS is able to support emerging popular technologies and make full use of the capabilities of augmented reality, virtual reality, and internet of things devices.

Obviously, this might provide you with a substantial advantage over your competition in terms of capitalizing on new audience segments.

Con’s of Headless WordPress

It Needs More Maintenance

The headless architecture requires developers to maintain a broader infrastructure that includes a variety of databases, servers, and environments. This is a necessary part of the design. A system that is so widely scattered is difficult to maintain and requires a lot of resources, which may be put to better use elsewhere.

The standard WordPress installation requires minimal maintenance. WordPress requires continuing maintenance since, without it, you run the danger of having a website that is inaccessible and insecure; but, because it has fewer variables, the amount of time you need to spend managing your web stack is reduced.

No Plugin Functionality

It is vital to keep in mind that any functionality obtained by installing WordPress plugins on your site will not transfer to the application where your material is ultimately published. This is something that you need to keep in mind at all times.

When it comes to publishing content to a mobile application, this won’t matter as much as it normally would. If, on the other hand, you want to add sharing buttons or a voting system to a static website on which you are publishing material, you will need to develop system-specific plugins or write everything from scratch.

In addition, you won’t be able to install a plugin whenever you need a new feature because you won’t have that option. If maintaining this level of productivity is absolutely necessary for you, then switching to a headless WordPress website is probably not the best answer.

No WYSIWYG Editor

The What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor will be disabled in a truly WordPress as a headless CMS installation.

The What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor will be disabled in a truly WordPress as a headless CMS installation, which will result in the removal of the live preview option.

As a consequence of this, you won’t be able to view what your users would see on the frontend, which will make it more difficult for you to produce content.

To put it another way, if you’re not comfortable with programming and coding, you won’t be able to take advantage of all of the features that Static WordPress has to offer.

Maintenance Is More Complex

When you utilize WordPress as a headless CMS, you are responsible for maintaining two separate systems, particularly concerning the installation of upgrades and security patches.

In addition to this, if these two codebases are hosted in different places, you may be required to do two separate maintenance procedures.

Maintaining two separate codebases over the course of a project’s lifetime could be time-consuming and lead to errors of a technical nature.

Example of Headless WordPress

Here are a few examples of Headless WordPress; they are websites that were initially built on WordPress, but moved to headless WordPress in response to an increase in demand.

Creating a custom WordPress website requires time, but in the end, it is created for the sole purpose of how you want your website to appear and is not based on a pre-made theme.

Beachbody on Demand


Beachbody on Demand is a popular streaming platform for health and fitness content.

Beachbody on Demand is a streaming platform for health and fitness content. It appears to be a JavaScript interface that has been developed on top of WordPress, and it could be making use of React. The user experience is very slick.

Now you wondering how. How are they able to create a platform using WordPress as well as React?

Here’s how you can create a React app with the help of headless WordPress.

You will uncover a great number of bespoke features, videos, courses, products, and recipes upon exploration. A well-designed blog is also available.

The company responsible for the development of the website, XWP, has also made it available as a case study. According to them, the most important factor in deciding to deploy headless WordPress was the need to make the process of maintaining content and assets, such as photographs, more straightforward. 

Users are given the ability to link WordPress with a diverse range of outputs and endpoints, each of which must adhere to a particular format.

Haruki Murakami

On the acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami's website a decoupled content management system was also utilized in the creation.

A decoupled content management system was also utilized in the creation of the acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami’s website. For this instance of headless CMS, AngularJS is being used to power the frontend. 

This setup enables navigation between pages to be performed without any interruptions. On the homepage, you’ll find a tonne of different transitions, animations, and scrolling effects, including some really stunning ones. 

The user experience provided by the website is quite satisfying. Due to the fact that there are no page reloads occurring, it does not appear to be a website. The website has the appearance and feel of an application that can be interacted with. 

It encourages investigation, which is useful because there is a great deal to find out about in this world. It will appeal to those who are fans of Murakami as well as outstanding site design.

The Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum underwent a website redesign in 2016 and they chose WordPress as its CMS and also with an AngularJS front end and a decoupled version of the CMS.

When the Guggenheim Museum underwent a website redesign in 2016, they chose WordPress as its content management system. They also went with an AngularJS frontend and a decoupled version of the CMS.

The REST API was used as usual by Alley Interactive to carry out the activity. Additionally, they made use of new post types and Fieldmanager to build the right data objects so that everything worked as expected.

Two of the main advantages they found were reduced loading time and the capacity to accommodate a complex site and information architecture.

Plugins For Creating A Headless WordPress Site

WP Headless

The first plugin on the list, WP Headless, disables the WordPress website’s frontend, transforming your WordPress installation into a headless content management system. Once enabled, the post permalinks will lead directly to the post editor, allowing users and contributors to continue writing material as usual.

This plugin renders the theme unnecessary, as the frontend is eliminated, and you may use the API to send your content to an external application or provide it to other platforms, such as Facebook, Medium, and others.

WUXT Headless WordPress API Extensions

This plugin will not turn your WordPress installation into a headless one; instead, it will provide a few more API extensions that make it simpler to use WordPress as a headless content management system (CMS). After a plugin such as WP Headless has been installed, it is then possible to make use of this feature.

Extra endpoints include a front-page endpoint, which eliminates the need for unnecessary authorization settings; menu endpoints; slug endpoints, which prevent the need to make two separate URL queries for posts and pages; taxonomy filters and extensions, which select posts that are associated with more than one category; and other endpoints.

Wrapping Up

The advantages of using WordPress as a Headless CMS include improving the performance of your website and creating platform-independent content. In order to have more control over content management and distribution, this strategy separates the frontend from the backend.

It’s possible to use WordPress as a headless CMS because of the REST API built into the core of the WordPress software. It’s possible to utilize this technique to speed up the loading time of your website or broadcast your information to multiple channels at the same time.

While Headless WordPress CMS is a great alternative for many projects, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not always the best choice for non-technical visitors. For simple, brochure-style websites, using a headless technique is a waste of time and resources rather than a performance improvement.

About the Author

Rids

Author

Rids has been working with WPWeb since Jan 2019 as Content Manager. He is a passionate content writer and has a love for WordPress, so he spends a significant amount of time writing about it.

View All Articles