Build Digital Destinations with WordPress as a Headless CMS

WordPress delivers a world-leading content platform that empowers brands to shape immersive digital journeys for customers. Explore further how its robust CMS, extensive resources and thriving ecosystem can drive your brand's digital experiences forward.


CMS Type







Yes (but not by default)

Technology / Build Digital Destinations with WordPress as a Hea

Can WordPress be a Headless CMS? Should You Use it as Your Modern Content Management System?

Over 60 million websites are powered by WordPress, making it one of the world's most popular CMS (Content Management System). Created in 2003 as a blogging platform, WordPress has evolved into a flexible and powerful open-source CMS capable of managing all types of content.

While it's often used as a traditional WordPress where the backend and frontend are tightly coupled, it can also be configured to function as a headless setup.

Using headless WordPress provides a rock-solid foundation along with the freedom and flexibility to customize the presentation layer. You can leverage the user-friendly WordPress dashboard for managing content, users, permissions, and more while having full control over the frontend with a choice of JavaScript frameworks.

With years of development and an enormous ecosystem of themes, plugins, community, and integrations, WordPress offers battle-tested content management for developers. Its extensible REST API and developer-friendly architecture make it easy for teams to create a headless digital experience.

For organizations with an established WordPress site, migrating to a headless architecture is smooth since the existing content repository and workflows can be retained. The headless approach unlocks modern digital experience capabilities while utilizing a CMS that content teams are already familiar with.

Key Benefits of Headless WordPress. Should You Use it?

Intuitive Dashboard for Content Management 

The WordPress admin dashboard provides an intuitive way for content creators and editors to manage posts, pages, media, comments, and users. Editors prefer to use it and can easily create, review, publish, and update content without needing technical skills.

Custom Post Types, Taxonomies, Metadata 

In addition to default posts and pages, WordPress allows you to create custom post types for specialized content like projects, events, products, etc. You can customize the fields, metadata, and taxonomy for each post type. This provides structured content to go headless.

Fine-grained User Roles and Permissions

Users can be assigned granular roles like Editor, Author, Contributor, etc. Permissions can be customized to restrict access to certain posts, pages, media, etc. This allows content management responsibilities to be distributed among multiple users.

Media Library for Images, Videos, Documents 

The built-in media library organizes your uploads into an easily accessible central repository. Media files can be reused across content. Headless apps can leverage the media library via the WordPress REST API.

Built-in SEO and Analytics 

WordPress has great on-page SEO with customizable titles, meta descriptions, URLs, and more. SEO plugins extend capabilities further. Analytics track site traffic and engagement. This data informs content strategy.

Accepts all Content Formats

WordPress is content-agnostic, capable of managing everything from blog posts and press releases to ebooks and whitepapers. The REST API delivers flexible content to the headless frontend.

Flexible WordPress Categories and Tags

Content can be organized with hierarchical categories and keyword tags, enabling powerful content filtering, aggregation, and discovery. Tags are exposed in the API for frontend(s) to leverage.

Robust Developer Framework and Hooks

WordPress is developer-friendly with hooks, filters, and an extensive API to customize and extend functionality. Developers can integrate headless features through WordPress plugins.

Content Modeling with a Headless WordPress Website

Default Content Types

By default, WordPress provides two main content types:

  • Posts - Used for blog or news content. Can add various categories, tags, featured images, etc.
  • Pages - Used for more static page-type content. Can organize pages hierarchically.

Both posts and pages have a set of common fields like title, content, excerpt, author, etc.

Custom Post Types

WordPress allows you to create custom post types with their content fields and properties for more complex sites. Some examples:

  • Products - For an e-commerce site
  • Events - For an events calendar
  • Portfolio - For project/portfolio management
  • Videos - For a media site

You register custom post types in WordPress and customize their submit and archive screens in the admin.

Custom Fields

Additional content fields can be added to default and custom post types using custom fields. These allow you to tailor your content structure. Common examples:

  • Price - For products
  • Event Date - For events
  • Project URL - For portfolio

These custom fields are then exposed via the REST API for consumption.


You can categorize and group content in WordPress using taxonomies like Categories, Tags, Format, etc. Custom taxonomies can also be registered.

Media Management

The media library handles uploading and organizing images, documents, videos, etc. These files can be attached/linked to content.

Working with WordPress: Editing and Collaboration

User Roles & Permissions

Granular user roles allow you to allocate separate access for content editors and API developers. Editors manage content while developers consume it.


Full revision history enables rolling back changes if content delivery is impacted downstream. Provides an audit trail.


Reader comments on content can inform editors of updates needed, fostering collaboration.


For large organizations, multisite allows individual sites per department using one CMS. Facilitates internal collaboration.


Keep content and development teams in sync via notifications on content changes that could impact headless delivery.

Post Status

Editorial workflow of draft/review/publish ensures content is ready before going live to the headless frontend.


Editor profiles give context on who created content that developers are consuming via API which aids troubleshooting.


Editors can use templates with predefined components that speed up content creation for reuse in headless apps.

Integrations & APIs

WordPress REST API

WordPress includes a robust REST API that exposes all site data including posts, pages, custom post types, taxonomies, metadata, media, etc. The API uses common frameworks like WP-API and WP-REST and returns JSON responses.

Frontend Framework Integration

The WordPress REST API is frontend agnostic. It can be consumed by any JavaScript framework like React, Vue, Angular, and more to build the presentation layer. WordPress handles the backend CMS functionality.

SDKs for Custom Apps

In addition to the REST API, WordPress offers software developer kits (SDKs) for languages like PHP, JavaScript, Python, and Java. These make it easier to integrate WordPress data into custom web and mobile apps.

Plugin API Extensions

Developers can use WordPress hooks like register_rest_route to create custom API endpoints via plugins. This allows the REST API to be extended and tailored for specific headless use cases.

Caching plugins

Caching plugins like WP Rocket allow REST API performance to be optimized by caching requests. This reduces the load for public-facing applications.

OAuth authentication

The WordPress REST API includes OAuth 1a and OAuth 2 support for secure authentication when accessing API endpoints from external applications.

Block editor

The new WordPress block editor has a blocks API which creates reusable blocks of content that can be managed by the CMS and consumed by headless apps.

Media management

The media REST API endpoints allow headless applications to leverage the WordPress media library. Images, videos, and docs can be uploaded/managed in WordPress and delivered via API.

Why Use WordPress as a Headless CMS?

Leverage Powerful WordPress Backend

With WordPress already powering over 40% of all websites, you can tap into its robust core CMS features like intuitive content management, permissions, media management, metadata, taxonomy, and more.

Keep Existing Site Migration Easy

For existing WordPress sites, switching to headless architecture is simplified since the CMS data model and workflows can remain largely the same. This reduces disruptions.

Huge Ecosystem of Plugins and Integrations

WordPress has a vast library of plugins and integrations enabling you to easily extend headless capabilities via established solutions.

Battle-tested CMS with Years of Development

With almost 20 years of ongoing development and optimization, WordPress offers a reliable, battle-hardened backend for headless implementations.

Utilize Existing WordPress Developer Skills

The large community of WordPress developers can easily transfer their skills to extend WordPress using core concepts and APIs.

Rapidly Build Modern Frontend Experiences

Developers can communicate with WordPress via APIs to use modern JavaScript frameworks to prototype and iterate on frontend experiences rapidly.

Ideal for web/mobile apps, progressive web apps

The decoupled architecture lends itself well to building mobile and progressive web apps that leverage WordPress content from the backend.

Reduce Vendor Lock-in

Since data is accessible via API, you retain the flexibility to switch presentation layers without impacting the underlying CMS architecture.

Brands Using WordPress as Headless CMS

The New Yorker - This iconic magazine uses WordPress to power its main site. With frequent publishing needs, WordPress provides an agile CMS for its content workflow. Its flexibility allows customization for the brand.

TechCrunch - The popular tech news site leverages WordPress as a publishing platform for its many contributors to rapidly produce breaking tech articles. WordPress handles and fuels its content velocity.

BBC America - For their flagship site, BBC tapped into WordPress as a cost-effective enterprise CMS capable of handling their complex content and scale.

Facebook - For its Newsroom blog presence, Facebook uses WordPress to manage press releases and announcements. WordPress efficiently supports their frequent blogging.

Sony - The global electronics firm powers some regional sites with WordPress multisite. This allows individual Sony branches to have autonomy over their content.

Microsoft - The Microsoft Azure documentation site is built with WordPress. It provides an optimized CMS for the technical documentation that Azure publishes.

Headless WordPress CMS Vs Other Headless CMSs?

Popularity and maturity

WordPress has a much larger market share than most dedicated headless CMSs. Its longevity means it is more battle-tested and mature. There is an established ecosystem and community. This makes WordPress headless intuitive and easy with numerous support and documentation available.

Familiar admin UX

The WordPress admin dashboard offers a familiar and fluid content management UX for users who are already comfortable with WordPress. Thus, lowering training needs. Moreover, it's interactive and fairly easy to learn even for a new team(s) as compared to other CMSs.


WordPress is open-source and free to use. Many proprietary headless CMS platforms have monthly licensing fees that add up. Moreover, WordPress hosting is available in multiple choices to provide the best one that fits your brand's unique needs.

No vendor lock-in

WordPress offers freedom from being locked into a single vendor's platform since the content is accessible using Rest API.

Content portability

Migrating CMS content out of WordPress is straightforward due to readily available data export options and the unified API.

Speed to market

Developers can create a fast and lightweight headless CMS with WordPress, leveraging its mature core, established plugins, and developer experience.

Frontend flexibility

Built-in WordPress REST APIs provide content flexibility and freedom to build any frontend presentation layer.

Proven scalability

With proper caching and infrastructure, WordPress can readily scale to enterprise-grade traffic volumes in a headless architecture.

Parting Notes

For organizations seeking a proven, flexible, and highly extensible headless content management system. WordPress offers a compelling option. With its REST API for decoupled content delivery and frontend-agnostic architecture, WordPress provides developers with the freedom to build customized digital experiences using the latest web technologies.

At the same time, editors can leverage the familiar WordPress admin dashboard and content workflows to efficiently manage content creation and organization. The extensive plugin ecosystem further extends headless capabilities while WordPress' maturity provides reliability at scale.

Transitioning existing WordPress sites to a headless model is also straightforward, maximizing returns on prior CMS investments. For many, WordPress strikes the right balance of power, customization, and ease of use as a headless CMS serving content to diverse applications via its field-tested REST API. With thoughtful headless architecture and development choices, WordPress can be the ideal backend for driving innovative experiences.


Brands with a Modern Edge

Discover how brands are fueling success with a MACH-based digital architecture.

Produce More than Results. Put your Success on Steroids