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What is a Headless WordPress Site?

Darko Svetolikovic
September 14, 2022

If you heard about the new headless WordPress trend, but you are not exactly sure what it is, you’re not the only one. After all, it’s not so easy to understand this concept if you are not a professional developer.

With that in mind, we will explain to you in detail what is a headless WordPress, what are its advantages and disadvantages, and why you should (or shouldn’t) use it on your website.

What Is a Headless WordPress Site?

A headless WordPress site is a WordPress website without its frontend, used only as a CMS.

That means that instead of the frontend that’s connected to the backend, a headless WordPress site uses an Application Programming Interface (API) to send information from your WordPress CMS.

This is not exclusive to WordPress – other Content Management Systems (CMS) can also be headless. Of course, WordPress is the most popular CMS and headless WordPress is the new way to use it, allowing you to deliver the best possible experience to your visitors without having to change the tools and the way you used to work.

Clearly, there are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. However, we should first take a closer look at the structure of a headless WordPress and how it works.

In this post, you will become more aware of the following:

How Does a Headless WordPress Site Work?

All CMS systems traditionally have a backend and a frontend, which are tied together. This is called coupled architecture. The backend is the content database, which you can use to make changes to your content. Basically, this is where you create, organize, and manage content, hence the “content management” part.

Meanwhile, the frontend is used to change the layout of the website. In a traditional CMS, these two are on the same installation, allowing both the backend and the frontend access to the database. This means that website owners can use one program to manage their entire website. So, this is a very popular option for beginners, especially when it comes to an intuitive CMS like WordPress.

On the other hand, a headless CMS uses the same backend, for example WordPress, but without the frontend. So, a headless WordPress site is managed the same way you used to, and its data are sent through an API. With the backend completely separated from the frontend, it allows you to host them on different hosts and still have it work without any issues.

This is important because it gives you more options when it comes to customizing your frontend in a way that you couldn’t even imagine before. Awesome, isn’t it?

The ability to have a completely custom frontend and improve website performances are the main reasons you should be interested in making a switch.

Traditional CMS vs. Headless CMS architecture comparison explained

Clearly, this solution is not for all WordPress sites and users. With that in mind, we’ll take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of a headless WordPress.

The Advantages of a Headless WordPress Site

Now that we know what is a headless WordPress, it’s time to look at the benefits and why you might consider using a headless WordPress site.


We mentioned this one already, but it’s worth saying it again. A headless WordPress site gives you more freedom when it comes to deciding how the frontend of your website is going to look. Simply put, you can customize as much as you want.

Of course, you need to know how to code to do this. But if you do know or you hire a professional developer, you will get a website that looks exactly as you imagined it, down to the tiniest detail.

In fact, a headless CMS system gives you flexibility in this as well since you can use different languages and technologies to code headless websites. Some of the commonly used technologies include JavaScript, PHP, JQuery, Vue, React, Angular, etc.


Another advantage of a headless WordPress is the speed. Since the backend and frontend are separated and your content is handled by an AP, a headless WordPress site will load faster compared to a WordPress site with a traditional, coupled architecture.

While this may not sound so significant to you, speed is actually very important. Many SEO parameters prove how important speed is to your website’s visitors. Meanwhile, a headless WordPress can reduce the loading speed of your site by half.

That alone can improve your conversion rate, which is key for any online business. However, this is especially important for eCommerce and similar websites. In fact, a headless CMS system is best utilized on these websites since you can clearly measure how the speed affects the conversions.


A headless CMS is much safer than a traditional one for a few reasons.

  • The key reason why a headless CMS system is more secure than a traditional one lies in the fact that the backend and the frontend are separated.
  • You can use multiple code layers to make your website less vulnerable.
  • The content delivered through an API is often read-only, which adds another layer of security.
  • You can limit access to the backend and only authorized authentication can access data and API.
  • You can host the frontend and backend on entirely different hosts. So, data isn’t all stored in one place, and security issues that might appear in one won’t affect the other side of the site since you can only access the backend with token authentication, making it a lot harder to get the access.

Omnichannel Experience

Omnichannel Experience with Headless WordPress CMS

One of the main benefits of using a headless CMS is the ability to publish your content on different platforms from one centralized system. This is known as an omnichannel experience, which is a great way to promote your business. Omnichannel experience can include mobile apps, websites, social media platforms, and more.

All that you need to do is connect your headless website through automation so you can manage your content through it. This saves a lot of time and allows you to cover various platforms.

Other Benefits of a Headless CMS

  • Scalability – A headless WordPress site is designed from the ground up with scalability in mind. This is especially useful if you need to scale up your website to create an eCommerce store. At this point, the limitations of a traditional CMS become apparent and you need the flexibility provided by a headless CMS.
  • User Experience – Being able to create the frontend that you like allows you to focus on user experience. You can see what your users want and provide it to them since you have the option to adjust the frontend at any time.
  • SEO Performances – In addition to the speed of the site, which we mentioned earlier, there are other SEO benefits that come with having a headless website since a headless CMS allows you to have better control over the data sent to Google and overcomes the limitations of a traditional CMS when it comes to customizations that are key for good SEO performances.

The Disadvantages of a Headless WordPress Site

So, we saw what are the benefits of using a headless CMS system and you are probably wondering what is the disadvantage of a headless CMS. Clearly, there are a few of them:


When it comes to ease of use, nothing beats a traditional CMS, especially WordPress. So, the main disadvantage of a headless CMS system is the complexity. You can’t control everything in one place since the backend and frontend are separated. So, you can’t add new pages or content to the frontend as easily as you would with a traditional CMS.

After all, you need to be adept at coding if you want to use a headless WordPress site. Otherwise, you will have to hire a professional developer for this purpose. Depending on your needs, this might be the right solution. However, if you just want to serve content on the Internet and you are not worried about conversions as much, i.e. you don’t have an online shop, you might be better off with a traditional WordPress site.


In addition to the necessary expertise in setting a headless WordPress site up, maintaining the site also requires a lot of knowledge, effort, and time. Remember, with a headless CMS, you have two systems to maintain instead of one.

A headless WordPress site means regular maintenance of a large infrastructure, spread across various servers, databases, and environments. That’s why this option is more suitable for businesses that have a lot of content to publish and resources to justify the cost of maintaining such a large system.

Requires More Development Support

This is similar to the last two disadvantages we mentioned, but it builds on them. Depending on the scale of your website and your desire to utilize all the possibilities of a headless WordPress site, you may need a team of developers to build and maintain your website.

Professional developers usually specialize in one programming language, so you may need a few of them to take full advantage of the new technologies and features that are available with a headless CMS system.

Headless WordPress Pros and Cons of Headless CMS

How to Create a Headless WordPress Site

If you decide that a headless WordPress website is right for you, you’ll have a few different options to choose from when it comes to setting this type of website up. In fact, there are many different routes you can go, so we can’t cover all of them here.

On the most basic level, you can either use a plug-in or code it yourself. The first option is the easier one – WordPress has a plug-in that allows you to set up a headless site. Of course, there are many other plug-ins you can use to create a headless WordPress site.

However, the second option is the one that offers more flexibility and control of the entire process. Of course, you need to know how to code or hire professional developers to do this for you.

Whatever option you choose, it’s good to get familiar with REST API, which is the API developed by WordPress.

Is WordPress Good as Headless?

So, now we know what is a headless WordPress and how to create one. However, you may wonder how good WordPress as a headless option is.

Well, a headless WordPress website can certainly be great, if utilized properly. First of all, you need to make sure that you actually need a headless WordPress site.

Then, you need to make sure that you know how to use it the right way so you can take advantage of all the benefits it offers.

Should I Use Headless WordPress?

The answer to this question depends on your needs. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS systems in the world for a reason, one of them being its ease of use. Basically, even beginners can learn how to use WordPress to create and maintain their websites or publish and organize their content.

However, that is not true for headless WordPress. This is the more complex version of the website that separates the backend and the frontend. It also requires some programming skills in most cases, so it’s not something to take on lightly.

The main question to ask yourself is “Do I need to scale my website?”. The headless option is more suitable for websites that have a lot of content, which they upload regularly. It’s also suitable if you have a presence on different platforms online because it allows you to control them all from one place.

Another reason why you should use a headless WordPress site is if you want to build an online shop for your business, whether it’s eCommerce or another one.

Lastly, if you want to create a truly custom experience for your visitors on all devices, a headless WordPress is the way to go.


A headless WordPress site or any other headless CMS can be a powerful tool in the right hands. It is a great option that provides the flexibility necessary to fully customize your website.

However, it also requires some coding knowledge and a lot of resources. So, if you decide to go down this route, you will probably need some help.

Luckily for you, you won’t have to look for a long time. We can help you out with all of your WordPress development needs, so check our services right here.

If you heard about the new headless WordPress trend, but you are not exactly sure what it is, you’re not the only one. After all, it’s not so easy to understand this concept if you are not a professional developer.

With that in mind, we will explain to you in detail what is a headless WordPress, what are its advantages and disadvantages, and why you should (or shouldn’t) use it on your website.