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Developing a Headless WordPress Website

Developing A Headless Wordpress Site

Wordpress app on the app store, photo by Souvik Banerjee
The Why

WordPress is one of the most popular websites, for easy content management, development friendliness, and SEO standards it provides.

Problem comes with the page load time for websites requiring maximum performance to display and render their content. While some SEO cachings anc CDN standards solve these concerns partially, the need for Static Site Generation (SSG) and Server Side Rendering (SSR) is evident for processing data intensive pages that rely on both database connectivity.

Modularity

Both Next.js and Nuxt.js have established great frontend capabilities to enable the SSR. Developing a WordPress site with this framework, also means we require an API-driven backend to work with our frontend application. This is where Headless WordPress comes to play.

Scalability

Headless WP means we will use the backend, admin and ease of database setup and content management of WordPress, then use WordPress to establish APIs to connect to our frontend application, which may also be hosted on a different hosting and domain. This also gains a huge advantage to develop separate frontend vendors like mobile native apps that work with the same database and backend.

Server Cost Benefits

Another advantage is the reduction of server costs, especially for larger websites. Using the SSR and GSR coupled with CDN could dramatically reduce the pings for server processing at every client request made on the website while these technologies ensure the latest version of the website is cached and made globally available.

Wordpress dashboard screen, photo by Stephen Phillips
The What

What can be done with a Headless WP solution?

Almost any WordPress website could be converted to a Headless structure to advance the loading time. The early adopters of Headless Wordpress are websites with higher frontend requirement, the advancement of frontend frameworks resulted in the need for more efficient ways to manage content while still leveraging WordPress's robust backend capabilities.

Wordpress text editor screen, photo by Justin Morgan
How

Developing a Headless Wordpress website requires similar experiences for developing custom wordpress websites in backend, but advancing those with a frontend framework to build separately and preferably outside the WordPress structure.

Separating the backend and frontend applications gain many benefits in scalability and continuation of a robust development and code maintenance.

To Architect a new or existing WordPress website, we would follow the following structure:

Pre-processing steps before development:

Developing the sitemap of the website (Excel file template)

Finalizing site content – Word documents to have the latest version of each page content

Information Architecture – Getting the objectives of the website in order

User Experience Research, Design and Strategies

UI Design: iterative process to arrive to final hi-resolution designs for the website

While most of the above steps are before starting to touch the WordPress site or any code, from our experience, getting this information and documentation ready is essential for our ability to get the best and most efficient results.

The next step is setting up a WordPress website. We recommend WPEngine to all our clients for their reputable support for more than a decade with great backup and all that a WordPress website needs.