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A Step-by-Step Guide on Using WordPress as Headless CMS

WordPress as a Conventional CMS 

WordPress is one of the most popular domains in the world today. According to a survey, more than 40% of websites use WordPress for their tasks. Anybody who uses WordPress is familiar with its numerous functions and plugins.  

Developers and users often make use of these themes, functionalities, and plugins to create content. It is one of the most trusted technologies in the world and has exceptional security. It offers flexibility and scalability to dynamic sites. Moreover, it has a robust and modern development framework which offers powerful front-end hosting services. 

Imagine a company that uses both web and mobile applications to deliver services to its customers. These platforms utilize the data (content/resources) that are common. The company has to update the data on individual platforms whenever there is a need to update the data (content/resources). 

This leads to several problems, such as: 

  • Data/Content is not centralized, which leads to the wastage of time and resources as we must update data/content on each platform.
  • Difficult to push and update content to all the devices or Omni marketing channels.
  • Challenging to manage multi-content updating points/CMS.
  • IoT devices mess.

 

WordPress as Headless CMS 

The most effective solution we can propose is the use of a headless CMS. WordPress as headless CMS has no front-end. As such, it includes just the API and the back-end required to store and manage content, organize data and handle the workflow—for example, in the case of mobile application development.

A headless CMS uses APIs to push content to any system. Similarly, you can use different frameworks in your apps and rely on a headless CMS architecture for pushing content to various platforms. 

However, if you don’t know what headless means, here is a little something for you. A headless WordPress allows content authors to create, format, schedule, and publish content.  

But the publishing interface (i.e., where the content is published) is usually optional. The way a headless WordPress publishes content is by having a REST API that the clients (really, all external applications which can speak REST) can use to pull content from.

Use of Rest API with WordPress as Headless CMS

 

How it works 

By default, WordPress is not a headless CMS. There are some steps that need to be performed in order to decouple WordPress and make it a true headless CMS. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use WordPress as a headless CMS. 

Step 1: Decoupled WordPress (Enable Blank Theme) 

When you are working with WordPress, you need to add an index.php along with style.css which carries the theme name, author info, etc.  

Step 2: Install Plugins

In order to start using WordPress’ API and the basic authentication security scheme, you’ll need to install a couple of plugins: 

  • WordPress’ REST API plugin (version 2) 
  • WP-API Basic Authentication handler 

Both have easy installation and do not need configuration. 

Step 3: Working with WordPress REST API

By default, WordPress Provides the following Rest APIs or Endpoints which can be used to pull the data from the headless CMS and deliver it to the respective channels 

Working with WordPress REST API

You can also register additional Endpoints or REST APIs depending on your need. 

(Example: create a new API for smart devices) 

Step 4: Customization of Back-end (Optional)

This further involves the following steps depending on your needs:

  • Switch to Default Editor Customization to remove HTML added by the editor as default and serve pure content 
  • You can create Custom data fields as per your requirements  

Architect/Flow diagram 

Architect Flow diagram of wordPress as Headless CMS

Web Development and the Importance of Headless WordPress 

For starters, the headless technology or headless WordPress does not signify a WordPress front-end. There are numerous companies that use headless solutions, though. The headless solution is capable of hosting an individual JavaScript-based (React, Angular) front-end applications 

When you switch to a headless mode, a specific volume of WordPress data will come through the APIs. Headless technology translates into ultimate freedom and flexibility for the developers through the right technology and functionality. 

It also seamlessly integrates with different software and apps. The future-proof and excellent content management infrastructure of the headless WordPress promises a bright future for the platform. 

It not only caters to the developers but to the marketers as well. Moreover, a headless WordPress is also an ideal choice for most marketers because of the level of control it offers them over their content. It helps in predicting new channels and means of service to publish their content more broadly.  

Summing it up 

Here are some reasons why you should migrate to a headless WordPress CMS: 

  • Full Control  

You have the full power of the REST API at your disposal. 

  • Maximum Flexibility 

WordPress is an open-source system. Therefore, it offers amazing flexibility to developers. It allows them to create content and websites of every kind according to their needs.  

  • Easy to manage   

You can log in anytime to manage your content according to your desire. It is very easy to handle and user-friendly. An innovative and intuitive user interface design makes it easier for users to operate according to their needs and regulate or manage the content seamlessly.   

  • Adaptability  

Along with new trends, new devices surface, too. These devices can connect to the internet and display multimedia content in very different ways. Moreover, it can easily adopt your REST API architecture.  

  • WordPress Market 

By operating WordPress as a headless CMS, you still have the option to use some plugins that are freely available. Such as the “Activity Log” of users to track the updates made by content creators or editors.  

  • Save Time and Resources  

A CMS such as WordPress comes with a wide range of features to manage content, user roles and a lot of other features that can save us money and resources.   

In the end, the choice of enterprise web presence platform is up to you. You can pick any platform depending on your personal needs and technical skill set. Headless systems have numerous options which are mostly compatible with your tech stack. The non-compatible options require a little extra work before they can be used.

If you need further help with transforming your WordPress to a headless CMS, feel free to contact us at info@xavor.com.

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Hamza Jabbar

Hamza is a Senior Full Stack Developer at Xavor Corporation having diverse experience of working in both frontend and backend technologies. He's very passionate about developing high performance scalable and efficient web applications using modern web architecture.