Headless WordPress: What is it and How to Use it?


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The term “headless WordPress” has recently become popular. You’ve probably heard about it but aren’t sure what it means. WordPress is a large and incredibly complicated platform, yet it has limitations. It’s a full-featured tool for bloggers and developers with many options, but it doesn’t let you do everything. Consider the following scenario:

Publishing content across many platforms
Using a language other than PHP and Javascript to code your website
Using WordPress as a blogging platform without a website

All of this, however, is feasible with a headless WordPress. It requires a little technical knowledge but detaching WordPress from its front end allows you to use the backend content management tools for almost anything.

This post will look at how WordPress is used as a headless CMS and some of the advantages of doing so. I’ll also walk through how to set up a headless WordPress.

Let’s get started!

What is Headless WordPress? A Brief Introduction

what is headless wordpress

When we talk about headless WordPress, we’re referring to a setup where you don’t use WordPress to create your site’s front end. Instead, WordPress serves as a backend. You can utilize any other platform that connects to WordPress through its API for the front end, or you can create a static website.

A headless WordPress site uses WordPress for content management and a custom frontend stack to show that material to site visitors. While there are numerous advantages to a site designed using headless WordPress, one of the most important is decoupling content editing teams and developers.

It makes for a high-speed environment where search engines can crawl your website without processing PHP code. There are no duplicate pages with headless WordPress either, so SEO improves dramatically.

Why Would You Use a Headless Content Management System?

Making WordPress headless separates the front end from the back end, allowing you to use the back end for whatever you want. You can use it to create your website, app, or content management system; unlimited possibilities.

WordPress is mostly written in PHP, with some Javascript thrown in. Using the API, you may connect your website to third-party applications written in Ruby, Python, or other languages, just like a headless CMS. You can code your complete website in a different language if you want to.

That’s precisely the point: you get a completely functional WordPress installation with nearly all of its functionality intact, as well as the flexibility to experiment with previously incompatible web frameworks.

All you have to do is link your custom-made website to WordPress using the built-in REST API, and everything will work out properly. This is already how WordPress works, but you can break the default connections and create your front end with a bit of code. You can use it with WordPress if it can connect to an API.

WordPress decoupling can also boost security, primarily if your website and WordPress admin are hosted on separate servers and domains. Only one of these endpoints will be vulnerable to hacking and DDoS attacks. If you’re concerned about security, a headless CMS on a remote server could be the answer.

Advantages of Using Headless WordPress

#1. Improved Security

Static Site generators that act as a frontend for WordPress, such as Gatsby, have no active web servers and no accessible database, resulting in a lower attack surface. This strategy guard against malicious requests, DDoS attacks, and unintentional exposure.

#2. Faster Performance

WordPress sites powered by Gatsby frontends are extraordinarily smooth and responsive, with millisecond load times and prefetched delivery on the cutting edge.

#3. Increased Flexibility

WordPress content may be integrated into large, organization-wide websites using frontends like Gatsby, connecting WordPress content with material from other CMSs and web services.

Use Cases for Headless WordPress

You could build a static site for your client or use it for parts of your website. You could even hook up headless WordPress to a react front end to make a landing page, and for doing so, you can hire WordPress developers in India.

WordPress includes plugins that can accomplish basic versions of some things, such as sharing your material on social media and sending out newsletters.

However, there is no reasonable alternative to headless WordPress for true multi-channel, cross-platform production. It’s ideal for serving as a springboard for distributing your posts or other content across multiple platforms.

#1. Application Builders

One of the most well-known applications of headless WordPress’s cross-platform features is the ability to run a whole app using simply a website and the REST API. This is a wonderful approach to populate an application with content, whether it’s a web app or a mobile app.

This is nearly impossible with traditional WordPress. A front-end website is inextricably related to your back end. This also implies that you’re stuck with PHP.

When you detach it, you may move the content in your back end wherever you want, and it will update immediately on your apps as well. You are open to using any programming language you like.

You’re no longer confined to PHP and Javascript. You’re ready to go once you’ve connected your headless WordPress instance to a mobile app.

#2. Content Managers

What if you already have a website and want to use WordPress’ database and content management systems? Your current website may be incompatible. Perhaps you’d like to experiment with WordPress and other web development languages like Django or Ruby on Rails.

These are all excellent uses for headless WordPress. Even those who despise the platform tend to agree on one thing: it’s a fantastic CMS at its core, but it has a few flaws that they don’t like.

#3. Performance & Security

Every website owner is always looking for methods to improve performance, load times, and security. That is true regardless of what you write or sell. And headless WordPress does not disappoint.

How Can I Set Up a Headless WordPress Site Using AWS?

In theory, you can host a static duplicate of your website with any provider. However, we’ll utilize AWS for this example because it comes pre-configured with the plugin we’ll be using.

1. Set Up AWS Account

To get started with AWS, you’ll have to put in a little more effort than you would with a standard web server. However, for static websites, this platform can be quite cost-effective. It might be as little as $0.50 a month.

You’ll want to utilize the Amazon S3 tier for a headless WordPress install because it includes 12 months of free hosting

install headless wordpress

It’s easy to create an account, click the Get started with Amazon S3 button, and fill out the registration form’s required sections.

The button will read Complete Sign Up instead if you’re already connected to an Amazon account. You won’t be asked to re-enter your email address or login credentials, but the process will remain unchanged.

2. Generate a Static Copy of Your Website

You’ll still need to install WordPress somewhere to use it as the site’s back end and to create static content for the front end for this setup to operate. Create a local WordPress installation to avoid paying for two different hosting providers.

You can create a local WordPress site in a variety of methods, such as:

Using technology like XAMPP to build a complete local WordPress environment
Setting up local WordPress installations using software such as Local by Flywheel

Local by Flywheel is a better option in this scenario because it is more user-friendly. Set up a new local website after downloading and installing the software.

How Can I Set Up a Site Using Local?

After that, you can customize and create your website as you want. Make the necessary adjustments to your settings, select a theme, and begin writing your pages and posts. You’ll be able to create a static copy for your site’s front end once you’re happy with it.

To do so, install the WP2Static plugin as follows:

Using a variety of extra plugins, you can achieve the same result. WP2Static, on the other hand, comes pre-configured to interact with a variety of platforms, including AWS, Netlify, GitHub Pages, and more.

To see the plugin’s options, navigate to the WP2Static tab in your dashboard after it’s been installed. It will take you directly to the Deploy static website tab, where you want to be:
use headless wordpress

In the Destination URL section, type the URL visitors will use to access your website (your Amazon S3 configuration will determine this). Then, from the selection at the top of the screen, choose Amazon S3:
uses of headless wordpress

You’ll need to specify a few parameters and link AWS to your website before you can deploy it, which you’ll accomplish in the next step.

3. Deploy Static Pages to AWS Automatically

When you choose Amazon S3, you’ll see several new fields appear:
headless wordpress

Before you can begin deployment, you’ll need to enter both your access key ID and secret access key. Keep in mind that the access key ID you use needs the correct permission levels for the deployment to work. Here’s a guide on how to obtain both keys from your AWS account.

You’ll need to input both your access key ID and secret access key before you can start deploying. Remember that the deployment will only function if the access key ID you use has the appropriate permission levels.

Select the region your AWS bucket was created in and input its name as it appears in your AWS interface once you’ve pasted your keys into their corresponding fields:
how to use headless wordpress

Finally, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the button labeled “Start static site export.” Based on the size of your website, the process may take some time. You should be able to access the live static version of your website after it’s finished.

Bottom Lines

If you need a reliable solution for multi-channel publication and are ready to put in the time and effort to get it up and running quickly and securely, headless WordPress is an excellent option.

It allows developers to be more creative and gives you the option to utilize the tools you want without sacrificing the robust content management system you’re used to.

If you’re still unsure and want to learn more about headless WordPress, contact a top WordPress development company in India and get a skilled WordPress development team. They can work on both complex and straightforward enterprise CMSs.

Varun Bhagat
Varun Bhagat is a technology geek and works as a Sr. IT Consultant with PixelCrayons, a web & software development company in India. He possesses in-depth knowledge of mobile app development & web development technologies and helps clients to choose the best platforms as per their needs.


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