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Headless WordPress: What Is It and Does Your Business Need it?

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Updated onJune 26, 2019

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WordPress is continuing to rule the market, it’s one of the best content management systems.

Although there are plenty of free and premium WordPress themes available which can make any project look wonderful, still some of its structure restricts its utility.

To eliminate these limitations the Headless WordPress came into existence which is the modified version of this CMS. Let’s see what exactly headless WordPress is and if your business really needs it?

Headless WordPress- Explained

One of the examples of a new breed of API-first CMS is Headless WordPress. Generally, WordPress contains code of PHP, database file and some additional code for presenting content to the user. The back-end and the front-end are clubbed together for building the front end of the website that a visitor can view.

This is fine if you only want to display the content on a single website. But if you are interested to use the content for mobile app, smart TV or company intranet, a way needs to be figured out for making the data available to external apps.

Quick Intro to REST API

The API- Application Programming Interface works as a translator. The way a translator ensures that the people speaking different languages can communicate with each other, similarly the API’s job is to communicate between two systems.

Until the application uses HTTP protocol, it becomes possible for the WordPress REST API to accept calls in multiple languages. Due to this, the content can get adjusted as per the interface. However, with headless WordPress, this step is more advanced as the front-end is completely separate and the API is placed at the center of the CMS.

User Experience

Headless WordPress has the ability to enhance the user experience by allowing developers to build front-end applications explicitly for various platforms. To suit any device, businesses maintain the brand identity by adapting the user interface, right from mobile apps, smart TVs, virtual reality, etc. Thus, without redesigning apps for each and every platform, businesses can deliver an incredible experience to their audiences. Especially, for businesses that are on a tight budget and cannot spend excessively on building native apps for each different platform, this is beneficial. With the magic of the REST API, any changes in the WordPress database will be visible in the front-end.

Content Delivery

The next big reason that your users will love your application is for its speed. A study shows, 40% of users leave the site, if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, so, it’s very crucial to have fast-loading and lightweight applications.

Because it doesn’t need to load backend each time, an app with a headless WordPress site will be faster to load. REST API also plays an important role, as it smartly makes use of caching, this cached data can be used when required.

By merging headless WordPress and CDN- content delivery network, all the users around the world will have access to the same data as local users in a jiffy.

Your users will be delighted with a fast-loading website application or a social media page and this will be figured out in engagement metrics. Additionally, you will also see improvements in your ranking because Google uses page load speed as one of the ranking factors in SEO.

Related- Do You Need A CDN Service For Your WordPress Website? 

All About Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

REST APIs make progressive web apps (PWAs) work. PWA behaves much like native apps as it enables browser-based plugins as well as other lightweight front-end apps.

Meaning- developers can remodel the functioning of the app or website they are working on that too without the need of having heavy applications.

Some reasons why a PWA is designed:

  • Irrespective of device or browser, it works for every user
  • Ensures content is up to date by refreshing every now and then
  • Even in low-quality networks, it works
  • Be linkable via a share URL
  • Be discovered by search engines like regular applications
  • Use https for added security
  • Facilitate re-engagement through push notifications
  • Be storable on the user’s device

Setting Developers Free

Majority of developers want to advance and excel their skills. However, WordPress doesn’t allow doing that. The language used at the backend for WordPress is PHP. A proficient WordPress developer is truly a blessing on today’s date but what if someday PHP becomes outdated? A developer should never be out of contact with advanced developments with programming.

For the long term success of your business, you need to sustain the best developers within your budget. Although Headless WordPress utilizes JavaScript, REST API has the ability to interact with various languages, ensuring a lot of ways for developers to explore and keeping them encouraged.

Accelerate Their Workflow

One of the finest features of WordPress is that it is a blend of CMS with user-accessible development framework. From a single dashboard, you can update your WordPress version, add/delete a post or page or image, install a calendar plugin and create a menu.

The drawback of this is a clutter. As the development is done beneath the hood, the backend can be utilized solely for content management.

Ultimately, this will be helpful for your content team as they can accelerate their workflow. Also, educating new content creators will become easy, as adding posts, pages and media are inbuilt.

Headless WordPress For Your Business

Now comes the question of whether your business really needs it? But that depends on a lot of things like your goal for the future of your business, the competition and your team of developers.

If you aren’t planning anything more than one website, installing a standard WordPress would be enough. By default, WordPress is responsive, thus, your site will be adaptive across all devices and browsers, but it can still make your website slower. This can become an issue, if your competitors are having a faster website. The most competitive industry is e-commerce and that’s why to speed up Magento websites, Adobe is exploring headless CMS.

Do You Speak JavaScript?

If you want to access content through a VR headset, from the car, or say a smart TV, then making an investment in headless WordPress can be a good decision.

But be careful, because it’s not the same as working with free WordPress templates and themes. Your developers will need to have a piece of deep knowledge on how REST APIs work. If they have expertise in multiple coding languages, they can work on apps in multiple environments of development.

Vanilla WordPress is another alternative with plenty of premium and free WordPress themes, if you are only likely to be using one website. It lets you add functions without coding knowledge and control switch design.

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Currently working as digital marketing executive & social media associate at MilesWeb. My responsibilities include creating newsletters, animated videos and web content at MilesWeb. In my free time, you will see me doing research on various social media platforms for audience engagement and marketing strategies.

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