Never Use WordPress As A Headless CMS

Mikołaj Sykuła
Mikołaj Sykuła
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Jun 15, 2024
Never Use WordPress As A Headless CMS

WordPress is undeniably the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, powering over 40% of all websites. Its extensive community, vast array of plugins, and ease of use make it an attractive choice for quickly deploying a blog or website. With countless free and premium templates and plugins, you can create a visually appealing and functional site with minimal effort and cost.

However, when it comes to using WordPress as a headless CMS, it is one of the worst options available. This article will explore the numerous drawbacks of leveraging WordPress in a headless architecture and provide insights into better alternatives.

Why WordPress Fails as a Headless CMS

Definition and Purpose of Headless CMS

A headless CMS decouples the back-end content repository (the "body") from the front-end presentation layer (the "head"). This allows developers to use modern front-end frameworks and technologies to create dynamic and responsive user experiences. A headless CMS provides content via APIs, enabling developers to choose any technology stack for the front end, such as React, Vue.js, or Angular.

Drawbacks of Using WordPress in a Headless Architecture

When considering WordPress as a headless CMS, the inherent drawbacks become apparent:

  1. Security Concerns: WordPress is the most targeted CMS due to its popularity, making it a prime target for hackers.
  2. Performance Issues: WordPress was not designed to handle the demands of a headless architecture, leading to performance bottlenecks.
  3. Maintenance Overhead: Frequent updates and poorly written plugins require constant attention and can disrupt service.

Security Concerns with WordPress

One of the most significant issues with WordPress is its security vulnerabilities. These can be attributed to several factors:

Popularity and Vulnerability Exploitation

WordPress's widespread use makes it a lucrative target for hackers. Every vulnerability discovered in WordPress is quickly exploited. The more popular a platform, the more attractive it becomes for malicious actors looking to exploit weaknesses. WordPress's massive user base means that any security flaw will likely be targeted and attacked almost immediately.

Poorly Written Plugins

The WordPress plugin ecosystem is vast, with thousands of plugins available for various functionalities. However, many of these plugins are not developed following best security practices, leading to numerous security flaws. A poorly maintained or coded plugin can introduce significant vulnerabilities to your site.

Frequent Updates and Maintenance Mode

WordPress frequently releases updates to patch security vulnerabilities and introduce new features. While these updates are essential, they often cause downtime or put the site in "Maintenance Mode," affecting user experience. In a headless setup, this becomes even more problematic as any downtime can disrupt the content delivery to the front end.

Real-World Security Incidents

Personal Experience with NagrywajFilmy.pl

When I was a teenager, I ran a blog called NagrywajFilmy.pl. One day, I received an email from CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) informing me that my site had been compromised, and malware was being distributed from my server. Despite my best efforts, I never figured out how the malware was uploaded. This incident highlighted the challenge for non-technical users to ensure their sites' security. The experience was a harsh lesson in the importance of robust security practices, which WordPress, unfortunately, lacks.

Company Incident Involving WordPress Vulnerability

In a previous company in another department, a bot exploited a vulnerability in a WordPress plugin, forcing us to take down the site for several days. Despite having backups, we struggled to determine the exact point to revert to, and the incident eroded customer trust. This situation underscored the fragility of relying on WordPress for critical business operations, especially in a headless setup where uptime is crucial.

Performance Issues

WordPress can become sluggish as the content volume grows, making it unsuitable for large-scale applications. Performance issues arise from several factors:

Scalability Challenges with WordPress

WordPress was initially designed as a blogging platform, and although it has evolved, it still faces scalability challenges. As the amount of content and the number of users grow, WordPress can struggle to maintain performance. This is particularly problematic in a headless setup where the back end must serve content quickly and efficiently to the front end.

Impact on Performance with Increasing Content Volume

With thousands of blog posts, products, or other content types, WordPress's performance can degrade significantly. The database queries become slower, and the overall responsiveness of the site diminishes. This can lead to a poor user experience and longer load times, which are unacceptable in today's fast-paced web environment.

Comparison with Other Headless CMS Solutions

Modern headless CMS solutions are built with scalability and performance in mind. They are designed to handle large datasets efficiently, ensuring fast and responsive performance. By contrast, WordPress's monolithic architecture is a hindrance when scaling to meet the demands of a large-scale headless implementation.

Better Alternatives to WordPress as a Headless CMS

Several headless CMS options offer better security, performance, and customization capabilities:


Strapi is an open-source headless CMS that integrates seamlessly with modern front-end frameworks. It provides a robust set of features and a flexible content management interface. Strapi's API-first approach makes it an excellent choice for developers looking to build dynamic and scalable applications.


ButterCMS is a flexible and user-friendly headless CMS with robust API integrations. It offers a simple and intuitive interface for managing content and provides powerful APIs for delivering content to any front-end framework. ButterCMS is a great choice for developers who need a reliable and performant headless CMS.

These alternatives offer superior security, better performance, and extensive customization options through APIs and GraphQL.


While WordPress is a powerful and versatile CMS for traditional websites, it falls short as a headless CMS due to its security vulnerabilities, performance issues, and maintenance overhead. Developers looking for a robust and scalable headless CMS should consider alternatives like Strapi and ButterCMS, which offer better integration capabilities, enhanced security, and greater customization.

By choosing the right tool for the job, you can avoid the pitfalls of using WordPress as a headless CMS and build a secure, high-performing, and scalable application. Modern headless CMS solutions provide the flexibility and reliability needed to deliver exceptional user experiences without the drawbacks associated with WordPress.

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