Headless CMS

WordPress versus a headless CMS

When it comes to deciding on a new CMS for your next website, we’re spoilt for choice. On the one hand, there’s WordPress, the world’s most popular and straightforward CMS. On the other hand, there are headless solutions, offering high speed and versatility. Both WordPress and headless CMSs are a great way to build websites, but how do you know which type of CMS is best for you?

WordPress

WordPress is arguably the world's most popular CMS, powering 43.3% of all websites on the internet. Originally, WordPress was used to create blogs, but nowadays it’s the engine behind a wide array of business websites, portfolios, and e-commerce stores.

A regular WordPress website consists of two ends: the frontend of the website and the backend. The front is the presentation layer that visitors get to see. The backend is the database and user interface, used to create and publish content. This setup is ideal for building and managing web-based platforms and straightforward websites.

WordPress Pros & Cons

👍 User-friendly

👍 Ideal for single-solution platforms    

👍 Easy to install

👍 Fast time-to-market

👎 Creative limitations

👎 Prone to security breaches

We’ll get into the details below.

Headless CMSs

Aside from desktop websites, we also consume content through mobile sites, applications, and digital displays. This requires a more flexible CMS: and as a result, headless CMSs emerged. While there are ways to turn WordPress websites into advanced platforms, we’ll focus on comparing regular WordPress to headless-built platforms in this blog. 

A headless CMS is a solution that disconnects the frontend and backend of a digital platform. This allows users to easily share their content across devices. A headless CMS makes content available on all desired platforms through an API. Content automatically adapts itself to its publishing environment and presents itself optimally for its destination.  

Headless Pros & Cons

👍 Secure & Reliable

👍 Scalable, ideal for omnichannel platforms

👍 Endless creative freedom

👍 No technical limitations

👎 Requires more groundwork

The comparison

Both WordPress and headless CMSs have their benefits. To help you make a sound decision, we’ve compared both solutions in terms of flexibility, user-friendliness, time-to-market, security, and pricing.

User-friendliness

WordPress is loved by so many because of its user-friendly interface. When building your website, all you have to do is download a theme and add the design to your website. No coding skills required. To add functionalities or features, you can install plugins: software pieces that allow you to include contact forms, video players, or photo sliders on your pages. 

Setting up a headless CMS is more complex and building your websites does require an experienced developer. The backend itself is as user-friendly as your average CMS and creating, publishing, and managing content is a piece of cake. 

🏆 Which solution does it best? WordPress

Flexibility

WordPress is a popular platform when it comes to building straightforward websites, mainly thanks to its templating structure. But when it comes to creating content and delivering it to multiple channels or devices, WordPress’s structure has its limitations. Content is made available as HTML and relies on a predefined document structure. For most developers, this approach isn’t ideal. 

A headless CMS offers more flexibility. Developers can build any platform they want and use all frameworks to bring content experiences to life on any modern platform without being locked into a specific setup or coding language.

🏆 Which solution does it best? Headless CMS

Security

As mentioned earlier, WordPress uses plugins to add features and functionalities to a platform. Plugins are one-size-fits-all software packages based on open-source solutions. While using plugins makes enhancing your WordPress website a lot easier, it comes with a downside: security breaches. When using plugins, many WordPress users forget to update their software or opt for "unreliable" versions. This is how hackers discover vulnerabilities,and try to make their way into the backend of your website. Headless CMSs, however, don’t use plugins like WordPress does, assuring you of trustworthy coding. As headless CMS also effectively decouples the front end from the backend, these platforms are more difficult for hackers to breach.  

🏆 Which solution does it best? Headless CMS

Did you know…

In January 2022, hackers planted malicious code in several WordPress plugins and templates belonging to AccessPress Themes. The hackers gained control over at least 360,000 websites at once.

Time-to-market

WordPress websites can be built in a day. There, we’ve said it. By using a standardized template, WordPress websites have a significantly shorter time to market than your average headless CMS. Even though WordPress websites can also be designed from scratch, headless CMSs require more groundwork, including a custom-built design and more extensive development.

🏆 Which solution does it best? WordPress

Creative freedom

This is also where creativity comes in. The average WordPress website is built with user-friendly templates and enhanced with plugins. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, but it does result in a more generic look and feel. A headless CMS allows you to build exactly the website you have in mind (yet it takes a bit longer to launch).

🏆 Which solution does it best? Headless CMS

Pricing

When building a website, pricing is one of the things to keep in mind. Starting out with a WordPress platform is free, as are many of its plugins. At the very least, you’ll spend money on hosting and a domain. However, if you want to create an advanced WordPress website, the costs are rising quickly. The more complex your WordPress website is, the more expensive it becomes. This also affects the costs of its yearly upkeep.

A headless CMS also comes with its costs. Depending on the desired solution, headless CMSs require paid plans. It also requires a designer, a developer, hosting, and a domain. Generally, headless platforms are more complex and therefore more expensive than the average WordPress website.  

🏆 Which solution does it best? WordPress   

The scoreboard

When comparing headless CMSs with WordPress, we believe both solutions have their pros and cons. It depends on your demands whether you go for a more straightforward approach or opt for more flexibility and reliability. Ask yourself: “Which solution meets the specific needs of the platform that I’m creating?”

We believe that when you’re a small business, and you’re looking to build a user-friendly website without spending too much on design or development, WordPress is your best choice. But if you’re an enterprise, looking to create a unique, omnichannel platform that helps you create an outstanding user experience: headless does the trick. In which category do you see yourself?

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