Headless sites built off of WordPress are a growing presence on the web, used for their ability to take the best parts of two different technologies. They allow for complete flexibility of design and interface on the front end, while also capitalizing on the ease of use and stability of WordPress for the editing and back end experience.

What is a Headless WordPress Site?

Simply put, a headless WordPress site uses WordPress for managing content and a custom frontend stack to display content. Headless WordPress empowers content writers to use a familiar interface while giving web developers the versatility to utilize any frontend technology stack.

Here are some interesting headless WordPress sites from around the web, with a number of valuable features created by their decoupled nature.

  1. Aleteia is the most popular Catholic website in the world, and was built with Frontity. Their headless WordPress implementation allowed for vast increases in site speed, along with a flexible front end that can handle 7 different editions – and multiple languages – of their WordPress content. You can read more about it in Frontity’s case study of the project.
  2. Colorado Public Radio has improved its audio player allowing users to continuously play music as they flip through pages. As with Aleteia, multiple different radio stations and sites are powered through the same system, giving each a totally different look and feel while still benefiting from shared infrastructure. Learn more in our own case study of the rollout.
  3. Defector is an employee-owned, subscription-based sports and culture website that serves more than 39,000 members around the globe. They’re currently using the Lede platform to run their site, which is a large-scale headless WordPress implementation software service for community-driven journalism. Lede allows for all the benefits of headless architecture, with minimal overhead or developer experience required.
  4. Metcash is Australia’s leading wholesale distributor. They have a headless WordPress configuration that allowed them to provide vital services for contactless delivery and essential products during the pandemic. The incredible speed at which they launched this site was aided by their ability to fully separate back end from front end development as well as the opportunity to use technologies that they knew well. You can read more about the launch in WPEngine’s case study of the project.
  5. Roll Call has seen great results from its headless replatform. Load time has reduced by 40%, and the number of requests on a repeat view dropped to only 13% of the original number. Using Google’s automated Lighthouse tool, the site now scores in the top 10% for accessibility, best practices, and SEO, due to adjustments and improvements that were easy to make due to the headless implementation. It also allowed them to take advantage of an early version of cutting-edge responsive design technology – container queries – which allow for greater design flexibility. You can learn more about the open-source headless WordPress framework used, Irving, in our launch announcement.

These sites are just a few examples of the new ways decoupled sites on WordPress give the developer greater control and flexibility to build exactly what they want to build, using the tools that they’re used to. You can also learn more about headless and how it might work for you in this webinar from our archives – Choose your own adventure : an overview of decoupled solutions in WordPress. Reach out on Twitter with any questions; if headless WordPress might be a good fit for your next product, we’d love to help you build it!

Interested in learning more about headless? Check out our free webinar on decoupled WordPress – Choose your own adventure : an overview of decoupled solutions in WordPress. – from Christina Deemer and James Burke.

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