Article

Kunal Khullar
Kunal Khullar 12 February 2020

Headless Wordpress - Designing A Wordpress Site Without A Theme

With a headless Wordpress site, your website can support more devices with highly intuitive functions. Above all, the numerous functions don't burden your Wordpress back. This blog talks about headless Wordpress sites and the technologies that can help you implement one.

Wordpress has always been the go-to solution for most businesses that look out for a digital presence. The leading CMS platform excels at offering a simple yet feature-rich backend. A large community out there is always ready to lend a helping hand, mostly for free, making it easier for the admins to handle their websites more conveniently.

At the frontend, there are numerous third-party agencies that design business-specific themes that are fulfilling in all aspects. They have pre-designed icons, colour schemes, font styles, banners and other media files that let you publish a full-fledged website in a shorter time frame. 

On the other side of the coin, these pre-designed themes are often loaded with redundant functions and scripts that only add to the loading speed of your website.

How ready-made themes harm your website:

  • Highly dependent on the Wordpress backend
  • Slow loading speed
  • Loading functions and scripts that add no value to the website
  • Bad impact on the SEO parameters
  • Rigid with further customisations

A probable solution: headless Wordpress. 

This is the new buzz for Wordpress developers across the globe. Not only users have suffered the repercussions of the lethargic heavy themes, but the admins have also realised the need for lighter and more customisable frontend solutions that can make their websites faster without compromising the functions and the UX ready-made themes have been offering for years.

What is Headless?

In a layman’s term, a website can be divided into two parts - the head and the main body. The head comprises the user interface and the functions that are visible to the user. It comprises parts that help the user interact with the core of the website. 

  • The frontend and the backend of the website share no dependency on the other. 
  • The frontend and the backend are managed separately.
  • Any change in the frontend doesn’t affect the core functionality of the backend

Also read: Headless Commerce

How is it different from conventional themes?

Incorporating headless implies that the website front can’t call the backend directly. It is totally decoupled from the core functions and can only connect with them via APIs. That being said, the functioning of themes sounds way similar as they are again detachable and communicate via similar channels.

However, deep down the architecture is way different for both the frontend development platforms. Themes are way more sticky and collaborate with the backend for nearly every function they come across. As a result, the website is likely to request the servers more frequently burdening the overall performance of the website.

Javascript based headless templates make things easier.

Advantages for the website:

  • Only add those functions that have some value

With a headless approach, the developers have the option to limit the functions. They can add optimised CTAs wherever needed. Thus, the website is saved from loading unnecessary scripts thereby keeping it lighter and faster to perform.

  • Infinite customisations with Javascript components

The headless template is mostly designed with JavaScript rendering the developers with plenty of room for a uniform UI development. The developers can create frontend designs endlessly leaving the users with a unique brand impression and a customer experience like never before.

  • Specially designed to serve multi-channel content sharing

Enhanced visibility is the sole reason for all our marketing strategies. With every platform, the content format tends to vary and the marketers are more likely to recreate the same content, based as per the platform requirements. Headless makes things easier. The approach adds data in a more organised pattern making it easier for the platform to browse the results.

The best example is explained here: Make content work harder in a multichannel world.

The recipe of victoria sponge is treated as a map of information instead of a webpage. In fact, Alexa reads the data precisely which explains the capabilities of a headless template. You heard that right; Alexa reads out the section more like information than a regular page.

Headless scripts are flexible and platform-agnostic that helps the content to be served across all the media platforms with zero restraints. 

How to design a Headless template for Wordpress

The demand for intuitive and highly responding UI is on a rise. So are the frameworks that support their development. We have seen a significant rise in demand for the likes of React and Vue. Google Trends is here to support our view:

React vs Vue

Both the Javascript libraries help the developers design robust headless Wordpress fronts. Let’s delve deeper into the technologies. 

React

Back in 2013, Facebook started analyzing loopholes with existing technologies. That was the time, the social media giant felt the need for a lighter platform that can handle thousands of new registrations every hour without burdening the servers. This was the time, the developers came up with a rather decoupled JavaScript library - React. Later, Facebook released the library as an opensource for the developers across the globe to help them design more intuitive fronts and decoupling the UI from the backend. We have explained it in one of our blogs: Implementing Headless Wordpress with React.

React.js

React is Component-Based

React libraries are filled with components or functions that can be easily reused. The developers can analyze the errors and rectify them more easily saving them time at delivering the template.

One Way Data Binding

React follows one-way data binding. As a result, only the data can result in changes in UI. The reverse is not possible. That makes it easier for the developers to trace the error which results in easier debugging in React.

Using Pure Functions

React allows pure functions which eventually makes it easier to read and maintain. Testers can save their valuable time for more crucial jobs.

Client rendering library

React offers client rendering UI resulting in faster page loading speed. The libraries are dependent on the user more than the server eventually enhancing the SEO parameters of the website.

Disadvantages:

  • It is a mere library. You might need other technologies along with it.
  • The learning curve is steep.

Vue

VueJS is an open-source MVVM JavaScript framework developed by an ex-Google employee Evan You. The framework is comparatively newer but has gained serious attention from the developers and site owners alike.

Vue.js

The rumor has it that the framework was initially designed keeping in the eye of the demerits of Angular (SPA framework developed and maintained by Google). Vue barely weighs a 100kB and is lightning fast with its performance. A reason why the likes of Alibaba have placed their faith in the JS framework.

Lightweight

Vue is one of the lightest frameworks for UI development. The framework isn’t overloaded with inbuilt features, however, it supports third-party extensions to expand the functionalities.

MVC framework

Vue is built over the MVC framework which allows the developers to write more structured code. It reduces the complexities and makes it easier to add features and make changes.

Easy learning curve

VueJS is well documented allowing the beginners to get started with it easily. The documentation defines VueJS to the core, making it the easiest of all to learn.

Disadvantages:

  • Being comparatively less popular, the framework doesn’t have many support communities out there.

How to get the right resources

Wordpress developers mostly excel in PHP, CSS, and HTML. advanced JavaScripts are something that might seem a bit alienated. You can hire third-party agencies that excel in Headless Wordpress implementations.

Or, you can hire React or Vue developers who are ready to learn theme development and play around with APIs.

Final Words

Wordpress is as exciting as it can be. Its popularity can only see the peaks. The CMS giant opens itself for Headless approach and the businesses across the globe should make the best out of it by delivering light-weighted, yet feature-rich websites for their audience.

As of the conventional themes, you can still stay with the age-old technologies only to render cluttered UIs.

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