Is Headless WordPress Right for Your Project? Hands-On Experiences & Strategies from Those Who’ve Made the Leap

Have you heard about headless WordPress and wonder if it's just another tech trend or a real game-changer for your project? Our comprehensive guide dives deep, providing first-hand insights and real-world perspectives.


Headless WordPress is buzzing everywhere, and you’ve probably heard about it too. But what’s all the fuss about? Is it something that could really make a difference for your business, or is it just another tech trend? In this post, we’re diving into everything you need to know.

First off, we’ll break down what headless WordPress actually is in plain English. We’ll look at how it’s different from the usual WordPress setup you might be more familiar with and weigh the pros and cons. 

But we won’t stop there. We know that what works for one business might not work for another, so we’ll also talk about other options out there. Plus, we’ll give you a quick guide on how to get started with headless WordPress if you decide it’s for you.

The best part? You’ll hear directly from business managers and experts who’ve already made the leap.

Whether you’re just curious or seriously considering shaking up your website, this guide is here to help you figure out if headless WordPress is the right move for your project. Let’s get started and make sense of all this buzz together.

What Is a Headless Content Management System (CMS) in a Nutshell? 

Imagine your website as a two-part story. The first part is the “head,” which is everything your visitors see: the design, the pages, the layout—basically, the face of your website. The second part is the “body,” where all the behind-the-scenes magic happens: the content management, the database interactions, and all the techy stuff that powers the site but isn’t visible to the naked eye.

In a traditional system, the head and body are joined together; they’re two parts of the same whole. Changes in the back end (the body) directly affect how things look and work on the front end (the head).

A headless system, on the other hand, keeps these two parts separate. The body exists independently from the head. This means you can use the same back end to push content to different “heads”—be it your website, a mobile app, or even a smartwatch app—without designing for each platform individually.

The Genesis of Headless Systems

The concept of headless systems isn’t new. It dates back to the early days of computing and network architecture, where “headless” referred to computers operating without a direct human interface (like a monitor, keyboard, or mouse).

The primary purpose was to improve efficiency, reduce hardware costs, and enable remote management. Over time, this idea permeated into software development, particularly with the advent of CMS.

Initially, CMS platforms were designed to be monolithic, meaning they handled both content management (back end) and content presentation (front end) within a single application. This coupled architecture made it easier for users, especially beginners, to create and manage websites from one central location.

Here are several examples of popular coupled CMS platforms:

  • Drupal. Drupal is a highly flexible, open-source CMS platform. It’s known for its robustness and scalability, making it suitable for everything from personal blogs to corporate, political, and government sites.
  • Magento (for e-commerce). While primarily an e-commerce platform, Magento includes powerful content management capabilities. It’s a comprehensive solution for managing both the retail side of a website and the content that supports it.
  • Shopify (for e-commerce). Shopify is a closed-source, subscription-based e-commerce platform that also offers integrated content management capabilities. It’s designed to allow users to set up an online store and manage both the storefront and the informational content with ease.
  • Squarespace. Squarespace is a SaaS (Software as a Service) website builder and hosting service that provides a user-friendly interface for building and managing websites. It integrates website design and content management, making it a popular choice for artists, bloggers, and small businesses.
  • Wix. Wix is another popular web development platform that allows users to create HTML5 websites and mobile sites through the use of online drag-and-drop tools. It’s designed for users who want a simple, all-in-one solution for building and managing their online presence.

Each of these coupled CMS platforms offers a unique set of features and capabilities, but they all share the common trait of integrating content management with content delivery.

This makes them accessible and convenient for users who prefer a straightforward approach to website management without the need for separate systems or extensive development knowledge.

Evolution to Headless CMS

As digital landscapes grew more complex and demands for omnichannel content delivery soared, the limitations of traditional CMS platforms became apparent. Developers needed more flexibility to use modern front-end technologies and deliver content across various platforms, not just websites. Enter the headless CMS.

As we’ve already explained, a headless CMS strips away the front-end layer, focusing solely on content management and storage. This allows content to be created, stored, and then published via a REST API to any front-end solution, be it a website, mobile app, smart device, or anything capable of fetching and displaying content via API calls.

This separation of concerns means the presentation layer can be built using any technology stack without being tied to the CMS’s front-end capabilities. One of the most popular choices among headless solutions is WordPress, the titan of CMSs, powering over 40% of the web

Headless WordPress Unveiled

WordPress traditionally followed the coupled architecture. However, recognizing the shift towards more flexible, technology-agnostic content delivery, WordPress introduced its own headless capabilities.

With headless WordPress, you still use the familiar WordPress dashboard for content creation and management. However, the difference lies in how the content is served. Instead of being directly tied to a WordPress theme for presentation, content is accessed via the WordPress REST API.

This allows developers to use any front-end technology (like React, Vue, or Angular) to fetch and present the content, offering unparalleled freedom in design and user experience.

The Key Benefits of Headless WordPress for Businesses

Businesses are constantly seeking ways to strengthen their online presence and engage with their audiences more effectively. Headless WordPress emerges as a powerful solution, offering a range of benefits that cater to modern business needs.

Here are some of its key advantages: 

Multichannel Content Distribution

In this day and age, your audience isn’t just sitting at their desktops. They’re on their phones, tablets, smartwatches, and even interacting with smart speakers. For businesses, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity.

The traditional approach ties your content and presentation within the same WordPress installation, which works fine if you’re only targeting a single platform. But what about when you want to push that same content to a mobile app, a digital display, or any other platform? That’s where headless WordPress shines.

By decoupling the front and back end, headless WordPress turns your content into a versatile powerhouse, ready to be distributed across any channel through APIs. This means you can manage your content from one place and seamlessly deliver it across numerous platforms, ensuring a consistent message and experience everywhere.

Why is it a big deal? Imagine you’re running a promotional campaign for your latest product. With headless WordPress, you can create your content once and then distribute it to your website, mobile app, social media platforms, and email newsletters simultaneously. This not only saves time but also ensures your campaign message is uniform across all channels, enhancing brand consistency and recognition.

Laviet Joaquin, Marketing Head at TP-Link, is more than happy about the streamlined omnichannel content distribution that headless WordPress provides. In her words: 

One of the most unique experiences we’ve had with Headless was when we could use Headless to easily integrate our product docs across the web, mobile, and IoT.

The flexibility offered by Headless architecture enabled us to deliver custom content experiences to different types of users, increasing engagement and satisfaction.

Headless WordPress has allowed us to deliver dynamic content on hundreds of platforms and devices at lightning speed. This flexibility matches our mission of providing innovative solutions to our global customers.

<a href=Laviet Joaquin” srcset=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18111643/Laviet-Joaquin-300×300.jpg 2x, https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18111643/Laviet-Joaquin.jpg 3x” />
Laviet Joaquin

Marketing Head at TP-Link

Seamless API Integration 

Present-day websites are no longer standalone islands. They need to interact with social media, analytics tools, CRM systems, and more to provide a smooth user experience. Integration is the bridge that connects these diverse systems, and headless WordPress makes building this bridge easier than ever.

One of the key advantages of headless WordPress is its reliance on APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). APIs are like universal plugs that allow different software to communicate with each other. Headless WordPress uses the WordPress REST API, enabling it to connect with practically any system or application out there. 

Whether it’s pulling in live social media feeds, connecting to payment gateways like Stripe or PayPal, or integrating with customer relationship management systems like Salesforce, the REST API makes it possible.

Consider an e-commerce site using headless WordPress. Traditionally, integrating WordPress with an e-commerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce could be cumbersome, often requiring numerous plugins that slow down the site. 

With headless WordPress, developers can directly connect the site to the e-commerce platform using APIs, leading to faster load times and a better user experience.

Here is what Mimi Nguyen, the founder of Cafely, says about the value the integration capabilities of headless WordPress bring to her business: 

Headless WordPress is a game-changer. We can now use any fancy JavaScript framework we want to build the website, and it integrates with other tools like a dream.

<a href=Mimi Nguyen” srcset=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18113025/Mimi-Nguyen-274×300.jpg 2x, https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18113025/Mimi-Nguyen-935×1024.jpg 3x” />
Mimi Nguyen

Founder of Cafely

Optimized Performance 

In the online world, speed is king. A delay of even a second can lead to significant drops in user engagement, conversion rates, and SEO rankings. The traditional coupled setup can sometimes lead to performance bottlenecks, especially when dealing with high-traffic sites or complex functionalities. However, headless WordPress allows developers to improve website performance tremendously. 

By separating the backend from the front-end presentation layer, it enables developers to use modern, lightweight front-end frameworks and libraries like React or Vue.

These technologies create incredibly fast and responsive user interfaces that are optimized for performance right out of the gate. They can efficiently handle dynamic content and interact with the WordPress REST API to fetch only the necessary data.

Imagine an e-commerce store that initially runs on a traditional WordPress setup. The store features hundreds of products, each with its own detailed page including images, descriptions, and customer reviews. 

As the business grows, the website starts experiencing slow loading times, especially during high traffic periods like holiday sales. This slowdown affects customer satisfaction, leading to abandoned carts and a decrease in sales.

While there are numerous techniques to fine-tune a conventional WordPress site — from caching to image optimization — these measures often require ongoing adjustments and can still fall short during peak traffic times. The headless WordPress configuration, however, offers a more foundational approach to solving these challenges.

Joe Amaral from Anthem Software is very satisfied with the much faster loading speed that the transition to a headless setup brought with it. Here’s what he says: 

Post-transition, our website’s load time improved by over 50%, reducing from an average of 4 seconds to under 2 seconds. This directly contributed to a 20% increase in user engagement and a notable decrease in bounce rates.

<a href=Joe Amaral ” srcset=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18160808/Joe-Amaral-300×300.jpeg 2x, https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18160808/Joe-Amaral.jpeg 3x” />
Joe Amaral

Serial Entrepreneur & Digital Marketing Expert at Anthem Software

Higher Core Web Vitals Scores

In the quest for a superior web presence, Core Web Vitals have become the new battleground. These metrics, introduced by Google, are critical for anyone looking to improve their site’s user experience and SEO rankings. They measure the speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of a page.

Headless WordPress emerges as a robust solution for pushing these scores up. By leveraging the power and flexibility of modern JavaScript frameworks, developers can achieve significantly faster page loads, more responsive interactions, and a more stable experience as content loads — all of which directly contribute to better Core Web Vitals scores.

While headless WordPress offers undeniable advantages for improving Core Web Vitals scores — providing a lightning-fast, highly responsive, and stable user experience — it’s important to consider whether this approach aligns with your specific needs and resources. 

If improving Core Web Vitals is your primary goal, transitioning to a headless setup might be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Therefore, we recommend exploring conventional enhancement strategies first, such as optimizing images, implementing lazy loading, or using a Content Delivery Network. 

These methods can deliver substantial improvements and set a solid foundation for performance, upon which you can later build with more advanced solutions like headless WordPress if needed.

Front-End Flexibility

In the overcrowded online terrain of today, where first impressions matter more than ever, the ability to craft unique, responsive, and engaging websites is super important. This is where headless WordPress comes into play, offering unparalleled front-end flexibility that empowers developers and designers to break free from traditional constraints and push the boundaries of web creativity. 

With headless WordPress, you’re not tied to PHP or the traditional WordPress theme structure. Instead, you can harness the power of cutting-edge JavaScript frameworks like React, Vue, or Angular. These tools offer advanced features for creating interactive and dynamic web applications that can keep users engaged.

Imagine a website that loads in the blink of an eye, with smooth transitions and animations that draw users in. Or an online store that seamlessly integrates immersive storytelling into its shopping experience. Headless WordPress makes these scenarios possible by allowing developers to design unique front ends that stand out from the crowd.

Let’s listen to Sudhir Khatwani, the founder at The Money Mongers, speaking about the front-end flexibility that his website gained by adopting the headless approach: 

My old traditional WP setup was feeling pretty restrictive – amazing for content workflows, but clunky and limited when it came to customizing the front-end experience. Headless frees me up to leverage modern JavaScript frameworks to build blazing fast, interactive sites and apps.

<a href=Sudhir Khatwani ” srcset=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18114608/Sudhir-Khatwani.webp 2x, https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18114608/Sudhir-Khatwani.webp 3x” />

Bullet-Proof Security 

With cyber threats looming around every corner, securing your website these days is paramount. To this end, headless WordPress CMS significantly enhances the security of your web presence, offering several layers of protection that traditional WordPress setups struggle to match: 

  • Minimized attack surface. Traditional WordPress sites can be vulnerable through their themes and plugins. By going headless, you effectively remove these elements from the direct reach of hackers. The WordPress REST API, which connects the back end and front end in a headless setup, can be secured with authentication methods, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Modern front-end technologies. When you adopt a headless architecture, you have the freedom to use contemporary JavaScript frameworks like React or Angular for the front end. These frameworks are not just about building sleek, interactive user interfaces. They also bring to the table advanced security features and regular updates to address vulnerabilities promptly.
  • Enhanced control over content delivery. With headless WordPress, you can leverage a content delivery network (CDN) to serve your site’s static files (like images, CSS, and JavaScript). CDNs not only boost your site’s performance but also add an extra layer of security by protecting against DDoS attacks and data breaches.

While headless WordPress comes with significant advantages, it has some downsides as well. Let’s take a look at those. 

The Main Disadvantages of Headless WordPress 

Before making the leap and adopting headless WordPress, consider these potential challenges: 

High Cost of Development and Maintenance

One of the drawbacks of headless WordPress that often catches businesses and developers off guard is the cost associated with developing and maintaining a headless WordPress site. Let’s peel back the layers on this topic to understand why and how the costs can add up.

Upfront Development Costs

Transitioning to or starting a project with headless WordPress isn’t a trivial task. It requires a solid understanding of both the WordPress REST API and the chosen front-end technology, such as React, Vue, or Angular. 

This dual expertise is necessary because you’re essentially building two separate layers of your website: the WordPress back end for content management and the JavaScript-powered front end for user interaction.

  • Hiring specialized talent. Finding developers proficient in both these areas can be challenging and often commands a premium. Unlike traditional WordPress setups where a single developer might handle the entire site, headless projects typically require a team with diverse skill sets.
  • Longer development time. Crafting a custom front end from scratch takes time. While the end result can be a highly optimized and unique user experience, the initial development phase is often longer (and therefore more expensive) compared to launching a site with a pre-built WordPress theme.

Instead of spending your valuable time seeking the right person for the job, we recommend collaborating with a reliable WordPress development company like GetDevDone. Leveraging our years-long experience with headless WordPress, we can get your project up and running lightning-fast, allowing you to save on development costs down the road.

Ongoing Maintenance Costs

The costs associated with headless WordPress don’t end once your site goes live. In fact, maintenance can introduce ongoing expenses that need careful consideration.

  • Updates and security. Keeping both the WordPress back end and the JavaScript front end up-to-date requires regular attention. This includes updating to the latest versions of WordPress, PHP, and any used JavaScript frameworks or libraries to ensure security and performance. Each layer may have its own set of vulnerabilities and compatibility issues to manage.
  • Content changes and updates. Depending on how your headless setup is configured, making content updates or changes could require developer intervention, especially if those changes impact the site’s layout or functionality. This contrasts with traditional WordPress sites, where content editors can often make updates without needing a developer’s help.

These upfront investment in development and the ongoing expenditures in maintenance can be quite significant – well above what most small businesses can afford. 

Leigh McKenzie from Backlinko has this advice regarding the costs associated with headless WordPress: 

Really consider the costs of a more advanced NextJS developer and how much longer your development cycle will become for even basic feature adds.

<a href=Leigh McKenzie ” srcset=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18123327/Leigh-McKenzie-300×300.jpg 2x, https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18123327/Leigh-McKenzie.jpg 3x” />
Leigh McKenzie

SEO Consultant and Growth Strategist at Backlinko.com


Unlike traditional WordPress setups where you can manage your site with relative ease, headless WordPress introduces a level of complexity that requires a good grasp of various technologies. 

The Tech Stack Tango

In a standard WordPress setup, everything from content management to how your website looks and behaves is neatly packaged within WordPress itself. With headless WordPress, however, you’re looking at a two-part system. 

You have WordPress for managing content and a separate system for the front end, which could be built on JavaScript frameworks. This means not only do you need to understand WordPress, but you also need to be proficient in these other technologies, which presents more hurdles such as:

  • Learning curve. For those not already familiar, climbing the learning curve of modern JavaScript frameworks can be daunting. It’s a significant shift from tweaking WordPress themes and plugins.
  • Development skills required. Making changes to your site’s appearance or functionality often requires diving into code. Want to adjust your layout or add a new feature? That might involve writing React components or tweaking your Vue templates, tasks that traditionally wouldn’t require deep programming knowledge in a standard WordPress environment.

Hear Mimi Nguyen again: 

Moving headless wasn’t a quick one-night stand. It took a solid two months of planning and tinkering. We basically had to rebuild our engine, separating the content (WordPress) from the look and feel (front-end).

Let me tell you, the learning curve was steep, especially for our developers used to the old WordPress ways. But once it clicked, things got smooth.

<a href=Mimi Nguyen” srcset=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18113025/Mimi-Nguyen-274×300.jpg 2x, https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18113025/Mimi-Nguyen-935×1024.jpg 3x” />
Mimi Nguyen

Founder of Cafely

Again, the best way to respond to this challenge is to hire a trustworthy WordPress development company such as GetDevDone to create your headless website. After your project goes live, you can continue collaborating with the company, asking for technical assistance or guidance only when you need it. 

Teamwork and Update Hurdles

Because headless WordPress projects typically involve multiple technologies, they often require a team of developers with specialized skills. This can introduce challenges:

  • Coordination. Keeping everyone on the same page and managing the project efficiently can be more complex than with a traditional WordPress site, where a single developer or small team might handle everything.
  • Dependency. If your site needs an update or something breaks, you might find yourself dependent on a developer with specific expertise. This can be a stark contrast to the wider accessibility of WordPress support and resources for more traditional sites.

Imagine a small business that transitions to a headless WordPress setup to revamp its online presence. While the initial results are impressive, the team quickly realizes that updating website content is no longer straightforward. 

Every time they want to add a new feature or even update significant content, they need to call in their developer, leading to delays and increased costs.

How can you offset this drawback? We recommend working everything out carefully before going headless. Ask yourself, “What elements do I need to display my content?” Then, develop those elements at the initial stage of the process.

This way, you can enjoy all the benefits of headless WordPress. Planning ahead ensures that your site is flexible enough to handle future updates or changes without needing extensive developer intervention each time. This proactive approach helps minimize delays and keeps development costs more predictable.

Here are some recommendations that Mimi Nguyen has for everyone who thinks of moving to a headless setup: 

My advice to anyone looking to go headless? Research hard, plan like crazy, and don’t be afraid to tap into the awesome Headless WordPress community. It’s a journey worth taking, and we’d be happy to share our war stories – successes and all.

<a href=Mimi Nguyen” srcset=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18113025/Mimi-Nguyen-274×300.jpg 2x, https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18113025/Mimi-Nguyen-935×1024.jpg 3x” />
Mimi Nguyen

Founder of Cafely

The Missing WYSIWYG Functionality

Amidst the technological advancements of headless WordPress, there hides a significant drawback that often catches many by surprise: the absence of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) functionality.

In the traditional WordPress experience, the WYSIWYG editor is a cornerstone feature. It empowers content creators to see live previews of their work, ensuring that what they see in the back-end editor is exactly what the audience will see on the website. This real-time feedback loop is invaluable for non-technical users who rely on visual cues to craft compelling content.

However, in the headless setup, this immediate visual feedback is conspicuously absent. When you update content, you’re essentially working blind, without the ability to preview how your text, images, or layout changes will look on the actual site. 

This disconnect can lead to a frustrating trial-and-error process, as each change needs to be pushed live or previewed in a separate development environment before it can be seen, consuming precious time and resources.

The lack of WYSIWYG functionality in a headless site doesn’t just slow down the content creation process. It also places unnecessary constraints on creativity. For writers and marketers, the ability to play around with layouts, experiment with different fonts and colors, and instantly see the outcome is crucial for producing engaging content. 

Without this capability, the creative process becomes more cumbersome, potentially stifling innovation and making the platform less accessible to those without coding skills.

Moreover, this gap can lead to increased reliance on developers for tasks that previously could be handled by content creators themselves. Every minor adjustment or experiment may require a round of development work, creating bottlenecks and inefficiencies in content production and updates.



To minimize the impact of missing WYSIWYG functionality, our experts recommend creating a detailed style guide before switching to a headless setup. This document should include as many elements, layouts, blocks, and other design components as possible. 

Then, build these front-end components. This will enable your content team to do their work without needing to ask developers for help too often when they want to add new features.

Need assistance with that? Just shoot us a message. We are always at your service!

In response, developers and content creators are finding workarounds, such as using third-party plugins or integrating external services that offer a form of visual editing and preview capabilities. 

Additionally, some are leveraging the WordPress REST API to create custom preview solutions that provide a semblance of the traditional WYSIWYG experience.

Incompatibility With Traditional WordPress Plugins

WordPress plugins are the lifeblood of many websites, offering functionalities ranging from backing up your data to creating content, without the need to write extensive code.

In a traditional WordPress setting, these plugins seamlessly integrate with the theme, instantly enhancing your website’s capabilities. Yet, when it comes to headless WordPress, this plug-and-play paradise is lost at sea.

The crux of the issue lies in how headless WordPress operates. Since the front end is entirely decoupled from the WordPress backend, many plugins that directly affect the site’s appearance and behavior can’t function as intended. These plugins rely on a tight integration with the WordPress theme and core, an integration that is missing in a headless setup.

Imagine wanting to implement a popular SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or an all-in-one security solution such as Wordfence Security. In a standard WordPress environment, these would be your go-to tools for optimizing content visibility and safeguarding your site. However, with headless WordPress, the functionality of such plugins becomes either severely restricted or completely non-operational.

Here’s what Leigh McKenzie has to say about this:

Headless is more challenging than a typical WordPress install because everything needs to be built custom. It’s not as simple as just installing a new plugin. 

For example, we just built new Authors pages. We needed to manually map all of the Schema from the Yoast SEO plugin to be built properly on the frontend.

<a href=Leigh McKenzie ” srcset=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18123327/Leigh-McKenzie-300×300.jpg 2x, https://s3.amazonaws.com/newblog.psd2html.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/18123327/Leigh-McKenzie.jpg 3x” />
Leigh McKenzie

SEO Consultant and Growth Strategist at Backlinko.com

This limitation doesn’t just apply to SEO and security plugins. Social media widgets, contact form builders, and even e-commerce solutions like WooCommerce face similar challenges.

These tools often require a direct interaction with the WordPress theme to display content or functionalities on the front end—interactions that are not possible when the front end is a separate entity.

While the plugin predicament in headless WordPress might seem daunting, it’s not all doom and gloom. Developers have devised inventive workarounds, such as:

  • API Integration. For some functionalities, you can bypass plugins altogether and integrate external services directly through APIs. This requires more technical know-how but offers a custom-tailored solution.
  • Headless-specific plugins. Some plugin developers are beginning to recognize the rise of headless WordPress and are creating versions of their tools that cater specifically to this architecture.
  • Custom development. In cases where no headless alternative exists, custom development may be necessary. This could involve creating a bespoke plugin or finding innovative ways to replicate the plugin’s functionality using the WordPress REST API.

In general, it’s important to approach all the challenges we’ve described in this section with a level head. Switching to headless WordPress is almost like moving to a completely new CMS. 

Unlike a traditional WordPress setup, headless WordPress requires a totally different strategy to dealing with various tasks and issues. It’s normal. You just need to get used to it, especially if moving to a headless setup promises to benefit your business.

Is Headless WordPress the Right Approach for Your Website?

As we’ve seen, along with some fantastic benefits, headless WordPress has some unpleasant shortcomings that make it an unlikely candidate for website development under many scenarios. 

For starters, headless solutions can be significantly more expensive and complicated to implement and maintain. This complexity is not ideal for the vast majority of WordPress users, especially small businesses or bloggers who rely on the platform’s ease of use and extensive plugin ecosystem.

Additionally, as we pointed out earlier, the performance improvements promised by headless architecture can often be achieved with less drastic measures. Traditional WordPress websites can see substantial speed boosts through the use of caching plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP Rocket.

Implementing a Content Delivery Network such as Cloudflare or Akamai can also dramatically improve your site’s loading times and security, without the need for a complete architectural overhaul.

One of the greatest strengths of WordPress is its enormous library of plugins, offering functionalities ranging from SEO optimization to social media integration. While most of those plugins simply don’t work out-of-the-box with headless setups, the traditional WordPress ecosystem provides a plug-and-play experience that is hard to beat.

If you find yourself in need of a specific functionality that isn’t readily available, hiring a developer to create a custom plugin is always an option. This flexibility allows you to adapt your website to your evolving needs without diving into the complexities of a headless architecture.

Deciding between traditional and headless WordPress should come down to your specific business needs and technical capabilities. If you’re running a content-heavy site that requires the ultimate in performance, security, and scalability, and you have the resources to manage it, headless could be the way to go. However, for the majority of users looking for a robust, flexible, and user-friendly website, traditional WordPress still holds strong.

To be on the safe side, use this checklist to determine if headless WordPress is a good fit for your project needs:

Does your website require ultra-fast loading times due to high traffic volumes or SEO considerations?Yes No
Have you experienced performance limitations with traditional WordPress setups, even after optimizing with caching and CDN?Yes No
Customization and Flexibility
Do you need a highly customized front end that goes beyond the capabilities of standard WordPress themes?Yes No
Are you looking to use modern JavaScript frameworks (like React or Vue) for your site’s front end?Yes No
Security Requirements
Is your website a frequent target for hackers, requiring enhanced security measures?Yes No
Do you handle sensitive user data where an additional layer of security could be beneficial?Yes No
Scalability Concerns
Is your business or website growing rapidly, necessitating scalable solutions that can handle increasing traffic without performance degradation?Yes No
Do you plan to expand your online presence across multiple platforms (web, mobile apps, etc.)?Yes No
Development Resources
Do you have access to developers skilled in both back-end (APIs) and modern front-end technologies?Yes No
Is your budget prepared to cover the higher initial development and ongoing maintenance costs associated with a headless setup?Yes No
Content Management
Are your content creators comfortable and proficient with using headless CMS interfaces, or are they heavily reliant on the visual and intuitive nature of traditional WordPress back end?Yes No
Do you need real-time content updates across various platforms, necessitating a decoupled approach?Yes No
Plugin Dependency
Can your website’s functionality be maintained without heavily relying on WordPress plugins, or are there alternative APIs and microservices available to replace essential plugins?Yes No
Are you prepared to potentially commission custom development work to replace or recreate plugin functionalities not supported in a headless environment?Yes No
SEO and Marketing Needs
Do you have a strategy in place to handle SEO effectively in a headless setup, considering the potential need for additional tools or custom development?Yes No
Is your marketing team equipped to manage and optimize content in a way that maximizes the benefits of a headless architecture?Yes No

If you’ve answered “Yes” more times than “No”, the headless WordPress approach might be a suitable option for your website, offering the performance, customization, and scalability your business requires. 

However, if you find yourself leaning towards “No,” improving your traditional WordPress site might be the more practical and cost-effective route. Remember, the decision should align with your business goals, technical capabilities, and resource availability.

Popular Headless WordPress Alternatives 

As far as headless solutions are concerned, WordPress has been a beacon for many, offering unmatched speed, security, and flexibility coupled with awesome content management capabilities. However, it’s not the only star in the cosmos. Let’s navigate through several popular headless WordPress alternatives that might align better with your mission objectives.

JAMstack: Static Site Generators Galore

The JAMstack approach has been gaining traction, powered by JavaScript, APIs, and Markup (HTML and CSS). It’s not a technology but a new way of building websites and apps that deliver better performance, higher security, lower cost of scaling, and a better developer experience. Static site generators like Gatsby, Hugo, and Jekyll allow developers to create static, pre-rendered pages served directly to users, reducing load times significantly.

Contentful: The API-First Contender

Contentful takes a different approach, offering an API-first, headless CMS that focuses on delivering your content across multiple platforms. It’s designed for developers and content creators to collaborate seamlessly, pushing content to any smart device or platform without being tied to a specific front-end framework.

Sanity.io: Unified Content for Digital Teams

Sanity.io is another powerful headless CMS that stands out with its real-time collaboration features. It offers a customizable editing environment that can be tailored to your project’s needs, ensuring that your digital team can work together efficiently, regardless of the complexity of your content structures.

Strapi: Open-Source Flexibility

For those who love open-source freedom, Strapi presents itself as a strong contender. It’s a headless CMS that gives developers the power to create, manage, and expose their own API in minutes. You can host it yourself, have full control over your data, and customize it to fit your project like a glove.

To help you navigate these options, here’s a handy comparison table:

Core FocusStatic site generationAPI-first CMSReal-time collaboration headless CMSOpen-source headless CMS
Best ForHigh-speed websites & SEOMulti-platform content deliveryTeams needing real-time collaborationCustom API development
HostingSelf-hosted or Netlify, VercelCloud-hosted Cloud-hostedSelf-hosted
CustomizationHigh (with web dev skills)HighHighVery High
Ease of UseModerate to HighHighHighModerate
PricingFree to varying degrees based on hosting & servicesSubscription-based – Starts at $300/month (Basic Plan)Subscription-based – Starts at $15 per seat/month (Growth Plan)Free
Community SupportStrongStrongGrowingStrong

How to Create a Headless WordPress Website: Two Main Methods

If you think headless WordPress is right for your project and business, setting up a headless website is your next step. The best way to do this is by hiring experienced WordPress developers. They know all about headless setups and can save you a lot of time, letting you focus on growing your business instead of dealing with complex technical issues.

But, if you’re on a tight budget, have a lot of time, or come from a web development background, you might want to try doing it yourself. You have two main options: you can either code everything by hand, which is harder, or use some ready-made solutions that make the process a bit easier.

Code on Your Own 

With custom coding, you can achieve incredible flexibility for your headless website, making it capable of meeting any business requirements you have. However, this is also the most challenging method, requiring deep knowledge of the WordPress system, its REST API, and front-end technologies.

The internet is full of tutorials and guides like this one that can help you set up a headless WordPress site on your own. These resources provide step-by-step instructions and insights that can guide you through the process. Additionally, there are several front-end frameworks libraries that can simplify the task of building your website’s interface:


This is a powerful JavaScript library for building user interfaces. Its main strength lies in its component-based architecture, which allows developers to build complex UIs from small, isolated, and reusable pieces of code called components. 

React’s efficiency comes from its virtual DOM feature, enabling the library to only update changed elements in the real DOM, significantly improving performance. This makes React an excellent choice for developing dynamic, high-performance web applications that need to interact with WordPress’s REST API in a headless setup.


This is a modern static site generator that leverages React and GraphQL to build high-performance websites and applications. It’s designed to pull data from various sources, including headless CMSs like WordPress, APIs, databases, and file systems, making it an excellent choice for creating dynamic, content-rich websites with fast loading times.

When setting up a headless WordPress website, Gatsby acts as the front-end layer that interacts with the WordPress REST API. This setup allows developers to use WordPress purely as a content management system, with Gatsby generating static pages from this content. 

The advantages of this approach include improved site performance, better security (since the front end is decoupled from the back end), and enhanced developer experience, thanks to Gatsby’s modern development tools and practices.

By leveraging these tools, you can significantly reduce the effort required to build the front end of your headless WordPress website, allowing you to focus more on creating a unique and engaging user experience.

Use Specialized Plugins

If you’re pressed for time, using specialized plugins can be a more efficient route to setting up your headless WordPress website. However, it’s important to understand that these are not your typical plug-and-play solutions. 

Unlike traditional WordPress plugins that operate with minimal input from the user, headless plugins require a good grasp of the WordPress API and front-end technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

Think of headless plugins as “convenience foods” — they make the process easier, but you still need to do some cooking, or in this case, coding, to make them function properly.

With that context, let’s explore two popular plugins that can help transform a standard WordPress site into a headless setup:


WPGraphQL is a free, open-source WordPress plugin that provides an extendable GraphQL schema and API for any WordPress site. This powerful tool allows developers to efficiently fetch exactly the data they need from WordPress using GraphQL queries. 

By enabling a more efficient data retrieval process, WPGraphQL facilitates the development of headless WordPress sites where the front end, potentially built with modern JavaScript frameworks, communicates with WordPress in a more optimized manner.

CoCart – Decoupling WooCommerce Made Easy

CoCart is specifically designed to make your WooCommerce store headless by providing a REST API for decoupling. This plugin focuses on the e-commerce aspect of headless WordPress websites, allowing developers to create custom shopping experiences on various platforms while managing products, carts, and checkouts through WooCommerce’s robust back-end capabilities. 

CoCart simplifies the process of building headless e-commerce sites by enabling seamless integration between WooCommerce and any front-end technology stack you choose.

Both of these plugins showcase the potential of headless WordPress setups, enabling developers to create fast, secure, and highly customizable websites. However, remember that successfully leveraging these tools does require technical knowledge and coding expertise to fully exploit their capabilities.

The Bottom Line 

The digital world is evolving rapidly, and having a website that can keep pace is crucial for success. We’ve discussed the distinct benefits and considerations of moving towards a headless WordPress setup, touching on the aspects of security, scalability, development resources, content management, plugin dependency, and SEO. 

Whether you decide to stick with traditional WordPress or venture into the headless terrain, the ultimate choice you make should align with your mission objectives, budget, and resource availability. The key is to select a solution that propels your web presence forward, ensuring it’s as dynamic and versatile as the content it hosts.

Thinking about making the leap to headless WordPress? That’s a big move, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re on the hunt for a development partner who can turn your vision into reality, look no further than GetDevDone. We’ve got you covered with a full suite of headless WordPress development services that are just what you need:

  • Migration to Headless WordPress: Ready to make the switch but not sure where to start? We’ll guide you through the transition smoothly, ensuring your data and content are moved over without a hitch.
  • Custom Headless WordPress Development: Have specific needs or a unique vision? Our team specializes in crafting tailor-made solutions that fit your project like a glove.
  • Headless WordPress Website Maintenance: Keep your site running like a well-oiled machine. From updates to optimizations, we handle the nitty-gritty so you can focus on your business.
  • WordPress API Integrations: Want to connect your headless WordPress site with other tools and platforms like payment gateways or analytics solutions? We’ve got the expertise to integrate seamlessly, enhancing your site’s functionality and user experience.

Why trust us? At GetDevDone, we’re not just developers. We’re creators, thinkers, and problem-solvers dedicated to delivering excellence. Our team is passionate about using the latest technologies to build websites that are not only visually stunning but also blazing fast, responsive, and optimized for search engines.

With over 19 years of WordPress experience under our belts, we’ve helped numerous clients adopt the headless approach, transforming their online presence and unlocking new possibilities for growth and innovation.

Ready to take your website to the next level with headless WordPress? Reach out to discuss how we can bring your project to life.

Volodymyr Shpak

Introducing our Chief Marketing Officer Volodymyr Shpak, a passionate book enthusiast with an insatiable curiosity for all things marketing. With a keen eye for strategy and a love for the written word, he brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity to our team, driving GetDevDone to new heights.

For more professional insights from Volodymyr, connect with him on LinkedIn.