What is Headless WordPress?

Headless WordPress

A lot of people know about WordPress. WordPress began as a blogging platform but is now used as a content management system for making different kinds of websites. With every major big update, WordPress adds new features to keep itself secure and feature-rich. It is mainly built-in PHP and Javascript. There is a backend to write, update, and publish content. The front end displays the content for readers and website visitors.

Now when headless CMS is in trend, we also have headless WordPress. If this term confuses you, don’t worry. I will try to explain headless WordPress in easy to understand manner.

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Before you learn about Headless WordPress, let’s first talk about Headless CMS. And before that, let’s understand the CMS.

CMS or Content Management System is software that helps users create and manage content without any technical knowledge. If you want to make a website, you can use a CMS for creating pages, adding images, and other media files. It automatically generates web pages based on the content you added from the backend. WordPress is a similar content management system that brings a WYSIWYG editor for making content from the backend and having a blog or website.

In a CMS, there is a backend to manage the content and the appearance of the website. The front end shows the content to people who visit the website. The headless CMS basically removes the front-end part from the CMS. So, you just get the back end. Headless CMS only brings an admin panel to manage content and REST API. Then you can use the REST API to build a website with any technology you want.

What is headless WordPress?

Now when you know about headless CMS, you can easily understand headless WordPress. A website that just uses WordPress for the backend but other technologies for the front end is based on headless WordPress. If you are using headless WordPress, you don’t need WordPress themes. The content of the website is accessed using WordPress REST APIs.

By using WordPress REST API, anyone can use headless WordPress and make the front end using any of their favorite technologies like React, GraphQL, and Git. You can use WordPress as a backend of your content-based mobile app, or you can create a Progressive web application with WordPress as a backend.

There are several benefits of Headless WordPress. It offers improved performance, multi-channel publishing, improved security, scalability, and greater flexibility. Headless WordPress becomes API-driven. So, it becomes Future-proof. You can easily change front-end technologies as per your need.

People who are using WordPress just for the blog and use a lot of plugins for the front end should not think of headless WordPress. For using a headless CMS, you also need to have extensive coding knowledge. If you do not know how to code, how would you make the front end?

WordPress already has WordPress REST API that can be used to create and modify content. There’s another good plugin called WPGraphQL. It is a free plugin that provides GraphQL schema and API for any WordPress site. Now that you know how to get WordPress data API, you can start using this API for building a front-end.

How to setup Headless WordPress

For using Headless WordPress, you need to have a fresh installation of WordPress. As you will not be using WordPress for the front end, you can have any simple theme with just style.css and an index.php file. Then you can build a front end using ReactJS, VueJS, or any other technology of your choice.

I have not yet tried creating a website with headless WordPress. That is the reason I am not going into the detail of how to setup a headless WordPress. But I have worked with ReactJS and will certainly try making a website with headless WordPress and ReactJS as front end.

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Deepanker Verma is an experienced WordPress developer who has been working on WordPress for more than 12 years. On TheWPGuides, he writes about WordPress, WordPress development, and WordPress plugins.

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