Because of the recent developments of Next.JS and WPEngine Atlas, this year is now the best time to get started. This article intends to help those who may not be full-time WordPress developers better understand what Headless WordPress means and if it’s a right fit for your organization.
If you’re wanting to get a little nerdy, I’ve already written a few other articles about Headless WordPress centered for developers: Headless WordPress: Making Your Own API Endpoints and Headless WordPress: Deeper Dive API Primer and How to Post to Other Platforms.
Let’s get started!
1. What is Headless WordPress?
Before you even consider committing to a Headless WordPress website, it would help to start with what makes a headless site any different from a normal WordPress site. Nearly all modern websites comprise two elements: what you see (the frontend) and what you don’t see (the backend).
When we choose to go headless, we only use WordPress for the backend to easily store and edit our content while allowing a faster frontend framework, such as Next.js, to act as our frontend. The whole definition of a headless website is taking off the part that people see.
Note: If you would like to know more about Headless WordPress, check out my post on Headless WordPress: Taking Posts Anywhere.
2. Where is headless going?
Going headless is here to stay, but what are the current emerging changes to this space to be aware of? The two biggest areas where changes are happening are in the frontend space and the hosting space.
Frontend – NextJS
All the data in the world is useless unless users can see it. There are many great frontend frameworks to choose from, such as React, Angular, Vue.js, and more. If you pick any of these, you’ll have great support and documentation to get the job done. However, if you are not already sold on the framework, consider your next site build using Next.js. This framework is React but with so much more out of the box. Next.js provides tools such as internationalization to support multiple languages, hybrid rendering for faster load times, and so much more with little configuration required.
Backend – Atlas
A website is only as good as its hosting. Announced this Spring 2021, WPEngine has launched Atlas, “The complete Headless WordPress Platform for absurdly fast dynamic sites.”
Atlas, in a nutshell, is a new architecture used to develop your website. It’s designed to be fast, secure, and scalable. This means fast load times for your users, secure protection of your users’ data, and scalability, knowing that your site won’t go down as your business grows.
3. Headless WordPress Example
The Bill of Rights Institute provides thousands of resources about American history and government to classrooms around the nation. The site features a large user base and a vast library of content.
To achieve fast loading times, BillOfRightsInstitute.org is developed using a Headless WordPress installation and a Next.js frontend. These two framework choices allow for the website’s vast content to be easily managed in the WordPress dashboard while leveraging the speed benefits of a modern frontend framework.
4. Is it right for you?
WordPress is an infinitely flexible framework to build out your next big idea, from a simple blog to a multi-million dollar publisher and eCommerce platform. With its flexibility, you have thousands of pre-made site themes and plugins that allow you to make your dream with no coding required.
Unfortunately, at this time, there is no viable way to build a Headless WordPress without getting headless experts involved. That said, if you’re just getting started with your idea, or just need a simple website, Headless WordPress might not be for you. But, if your project vision is grand and requires the benefits of a decoupled frontend, Headless WordPress is a great way to go. When you need help, our WordPress agency can get you started!