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Headless WordPress CMS Explained: Drawbacks and Benefits

When using a headless method, businesses have more precise control over the content management backend. Additionally, they can utilize any front end of their choosing, such as Angular, React, or Vue.

This tutorial will detail headless WordPress, including what it is, when to use it, and why.

What Is Headless WordPress?

WordPress is a monolithic program with closely integrated backend and front end components. The management takes place in the backend, where you may create, edit, add, and delete material and modify appearance settings. On the other hand, the front end is in charge of showing the user the content.

The WordPress CMS’s backend (administration) component is distinct from its front end component. Therefore, any front end framework of your choosing may be used to create and maintain the front end as a separate application. Headless WordPress is referred to as decoupled WordPress.

wordpress front-end vs back-end

The Drawbacks of a Monolithic WordPress

1. You have more work to do when maintaining many website instances when the backend and the front end are separated.

2. It can be expensive to implement since it requires more team members and money to run various instances.

3. If your material is not shown consistently across all platforms when made available, your users may have an inconsistent experience.

The Benefits of Headless WordPress

1. Enhancing Performance

Website pages are rendered dynamically by standard WordPress. This implies that the hosting server creates an HTML page each time a request is received instead of maintaining static HTML pages to transmit to users as requested. The server must execute PHP and MySQL processes to gather all the required resources from the database, put them together into a page, and deliver this page to a user.

2. Flexible front end Design

WordPress’ extensive library of programmable themes and plugins gives you a lot of front end flexibility. However, not everyone may want to have this kind of front end control over their website.

3. Publishing on Multiple Channels

You will first use WordPress for your typical desktop and mobile websites, and that may be all you require it for. However, to deliver their content to more interfaces, such as mobile applications, social media platforms, smart devices, and virtual assistants like Alexa, some expanding enterprises could use it.

4. Enhanced Security

For purposes of security, this is fantastic. Popov’s follow-up interview to his WCEU session stated, “A headless website is server-side built, so the website visitor has no tie to the database.” With headless, “hackers have nothing to hack,” he claimed. “A hacker needs something to hack,” he added.

headless wordpress benefits

Hosting Headless WordPress

You may take many approaches if you’ve considered the advantages and disadvantages of headless WordPress and determined it’s worthwhile to pursue. Your approach will differ depending on your level of technical proficiency, available resources, desired languages, frameworks, and WordPress hosts that support headless hosting.

The many ways to headless WordPress may be divided into two broad categories: plugins and self-coded solutions. Next, let’s briefly go through each approach.

1. Make use of a plugin

Typically, WordPress plugins serve as workarounds for coding your code. Unfortunately, headless WordPress plugins do not work like this; to develop your front end and send API calls, you still need to be knowledgeable about the appropriate programming languages and API principles. However, there are a few prominent (and cost-free) plugins that might simplify your life.

2. Code it yourself

Although plugins make establishing an API simpler, the DIY coding method is incomparable if flexibility is what you’re after. Several online tutorials detail the process of implementing a headless configuration in your copy of WordPress in detail and step-by-step.

Headless WordPress Issues

1. Performance: Rest API requests go sluggishly slowly. Due to the weight of WordPress plugins, one customer reported page loading delays of 3 or more seconds. Even more, time is required to download the whole WordPress core to serve the endpoints.

2. Maintenance: Running the entire website requires a lot of daily tinkering.

3. Editing expertise: To make the APIs function somehow, you must JSON-ize all of your material. Although you can temporarily win over content editors, they will ultimately need to adjust to new content forms.

4. APIs: They may sometimes access the needed GraphQL instead of the tedious REST APIs. For instance, GraphiQL’s visual IDE for GraphQL is included in products like Gatsby. The difficulty in optimizing arises from your API editor operating independently of your content store.

5. Compliance: Since plugins are created by outside parties they don’t know, compliance teams are cautious of overusing them.

6. Sleek: There are a ton of options included with WordPress, most of which are underutilized. When WordPress is your headless CMS, this issue is even worse.

7. Opinionated: WordPress is a reasonably opinionated platform, even with its templates. WordPress cannot be used as a headless system to modify this. You must nevertheless adhere to their reasoning about the organization of the information.

8. Hosting: Since WordPress is frequently installed locally, much labor is wasted on its hosting.

9. Extending: If you don’t construct those yourself, everything is divided into plugins, and technical debt can quickly accumulate. This may be quite expensive.

What Can You Do With Headless WordPress?

Going headless isn’t for everyone, but for developers with the resources to advance WordPress, the performance advantages make it a wise decision. Here are a few situations in which headless excels.

  • You plan to produce material across many platforms: By leveraging APIs to send content to many channels, decoupled WordPress enables the creation of tailored, multichannel customer experiences that increase traffic and reach.
  • You want to create a custom product: If customization is essential to you, going headless is the best option. The headless architecture gives you access to additional workflows and procedures that standard WordPress is just not designed for. With a headless solution, you have total command over the design and content of your website.

How to Get Started?

There are several ways of starting your headless WordPress journey! Here are some of the most popular options when it comes to creating a headless WordPress website:

Other tools to help you set up a headless WordPress website:


Is WordPress headless faster?

A progressive web app (PWA), Headless WordPress offers functionality usually only seen in web-native applications. Users will be able to install a headless WordPress site as an app on the phone for offline usage, experience quick web performance, and without the need to design and maintain a separate mobile app.

Can WordPress be used as a headless CMS?

The most adaptable CMS, WordPress, enables you to build practically any website. Moreover, because WordPress is open-source, you can use it as a headless CMS.

How do I make my WordPress headless?

Check the “Hosting Headless WordPress” section and the “How to get started ” section.

Is Gatsby a CMS?

Gatsby supports several headless CMS providers using plugins, including Contentful, Ghost, and Prismic. There is no reason to change if you already use WordPress. Your content team may continue to utilize the editing tools they are accustomed to using WordPress’ Rest API as a headless CMS.

Headless CMS and normal CMS: what is the difference?

A headless CMS sets itself apart by never directly interacting with a front end. Instead, a headless CMS manages the content, unlike standard CMSs, which seek to be a single solution for managing both the content and the front end.

What are the advantages of building a headless WordPress site?

Here are six advantages of a headless WordPress Website, just to name a few:
1) extremely quick performance;
2) granular command;
3) higher scalability;
4) tighter security;
5) portable design;
6) publishing multi-channel content.


Although headless WordPress won’t put an end to conventional WordPress as we know it, it is a viable solution for companies big enough to bear the expense of setup and upkeep. Starting headless can seem like more effort at first, but it might save you a ton of time and give you more front end freedom than WordPress ever could.