5 Common Myths About Traditional WordPress vs. Headless WordPress Debunked

Is a headless CMS better than traditional WordPress? It all depends on what you are looking for.


The world of online marketing is constantly changing and evolving, meaning that your website has to adapt as well. With the introduction of new Google’s Core Web Vitals, when UX officially became one of the ranking factors, a lot of WordPress users started to notice that it’s almost impossible to bring their websites into a green zone.

Now, anyone who is thriving for better search engine visibility has to prioritize their website’s performance and user experience. This, in addition to some other well-known pain points of WordPress, made a lot of users wonder:

Should they stay loyal to the traditional WordPress system or is it time for a change? 

And if it’s time to move on, what can effectively replace a WordPress-based website? One of the options WordPress owners hear about the most is the headless CMS based on WordPress. It’s well-known as a flexible, fast, and versatile system, so people tend to assume that headless solutions are always better than WordPress.

While it’s true in some cases, the reality is way more complex than that. Of course, a lot depends on your unique needs but we hope that this article will help you make the right choice.

Headless CMS vs Traditional CMS

Before we dive in, let’s define what a headless CMS is and isn’t. Also known as Headless WordPress, this type of CMS became increasingly popular when React first appeared. When you are using headless, you can use the CMS as a generic content management system and use any other technology to build the front-end (with React and Angular being the most popular choices).

Then, you use the API to connect these two pieces of the puzzle. WordPress has a powerful REST (representational state transfer) API meaning it returns data in JSON format which is used by a large number of web technologies. What is JSON? To put it simply, it’s a text-based representation of JavaScript objects that store data as neatly organized key-value pairs. 

Don’t worry if it doesn’t make a lot of sense – all you need to know is that headless allows you to build any kind of website and then manage it in WordPress by leveraging an API. A lot of WordPress users consider this option because they don’t have to move the data.

All they need is a new front-end that points to the right routes on their old website. This approach has its advantages but also a few disadvantages to consider.

Myth #1: Headless Solutions Are Cheap and Easy to Develop

In a headless CMS vs traditional CMS “debate”, a lot of people frequently forget to mention the cost of building a website’s front-end from scratch. An experienced web developer can charge anywhere from $50 an hour and even if he works full-time, the development of the website may take weeks or even months. As you can see, it’s neither “cheap” nor “easy”.

A headless approach gives you the flexibility to build whatever you want and the freedom to integrate only those features that you really need. However, this flexibility comes at a cost. Think about all additional features and requests you might have in the future – with WordPress, you could just install a plugin or find a code snippet online. With a headless system, you will need to ask a professional web developer for help every time you need to change or add something.

If you are an advanced WordPress user, you might know some PHP already or have an in-house PHP developer. If you decide to switch to a headless system, you might need someone who is experienced in JavaScript and APIs, which is a completely different skill set.

Myth #2: Headless CMS Is Generally Better in Terms of Performance

Indeed, headless WordPress solutions are faster and lighter, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t get your WordPress website into Core Web Vitals’ green zone. The benefit of a headless CMS is that it eliminates the need to have a pile of files and out-of-the-box features you don’t even use.

However, consider the amount of time and money needed to develop and support a headless solution before making the move. Most of the time, it’s just not worth the effort. Almost any WordPress site can be brought to the green zone with the right hosting, CDN, optimized images, and a powerful optimization plugin like WP rocket. 

Myth #3: WordPress Websites Are Not as Secure as Headless CMS

A headless CMS is an API-based website that doesn’t have a database. It means there are no database vulnerabilities and no gateway that a hacker could exploit. This factor alone makes a headless CMS a secure option but is it always more secure than a regular WordPress website? Not necessarily.

A hacker can still query the service endpoints that deliver content if they are not properly secured. In the end, it all depends on a setup. You can always add additional layers of security to a regular WordPress website by using advanced security plugins and hiding sensitive information. 

Myth #4: Headless CMS Is More Cost-Effective

Again, a traditional CMS requires less time and money to set up. It’s also an ideal choice for you if you already have a team of PHP experts or you are an advanced WordPress user yourself. If all you need is one stand-alone website that is not connected to other third-party resources, it’s actually more cost-effective to choose WordPress with all its built-in functionality.

However, if you already have one or more websites built on a specific modern tech stack that need to be integrated with a new website, building a headless CMS can be more cost-effective in a long run. You also don’t have to build everything from scratch – almost every modern service has a REST API you can leverage to extend the functionality of your headless CMS. If you know that this website is just one out of many, using a headless approach can significantly streamline the development cycle.

Myth #5: Headless Provides a Better User Experience

The headless CMS can help you deliver a better user experience because you are in full control over where and how your content gets displayed. With a headless website, you don’t have to hide or redesign the default WordPress pages and features, you simply create your own.

At the same time, a simple WordPress website can be user-friendly too. In fact, with the right tools and plugins, it’s not that hard to improve the user experience on any WordPress-based site.

Final Thoughts

For years, WordPress was one of the best platforms for effective yet affordable content management. However, it was founded all the way back in 2003; a lot of alternatives appeared on the market since then, including some new technologies and platforms. Thus, it’s always a good idea to look around and reevaluate your options from time to time. More often than not, a few simple changes and updates are all you need to keep up with the times. 

Top-Quality WordPress Development Services from GetDevDone

As you see, the choice of the Headless WordPress or Traditional WordPress approach depends on many variables. Conventional WordPress can be as cost-effective, performant, and secure as Headless WordPress when things are done right. With traditional WP, you get a ready-made, well-tested platform that you can use straight away. That will save you money and time down the road.

So, don’t just get carried away by the hype. Evaluate your budget, human resources availability, time constraints, and project specifics. If you are still undecided which method will be the best fit for you, ask our expert WordPress development experts. With 16+ years of industry experience and thousands of successfully completed WP projects, we know everything about the world’s most popular CMS.

Reach out to us with any WordPress-related request, from building a stunning custom theme or modifying your current one to meet your business needs to Core Web Vitals optimization and making your website secure and hack-proof.

Valerie Muradian

Valerie is a top writer, software developer, and book lover. She writes on the latest technologies, self-development, life-long learning, creativity, and everything in between. | Follow her on Twitter | Read her on Medium | Connect with her on LinkedIn.