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How to build a headless WordPress with React

May 24, 2022 by Rich Kurtzman, Brand Communications @ Fathym

WordPress is widely regarded as one of the most popular content management systems in the world.

In fact, as of late 2021, WordPress powered 35% of the top 1 million websites in the world. And around 25% of all websites, period.

Why is it so popular?

First, it’s free to download and use. However, if you want to customize it, WordPress does charge a fee for some of their templates and plug-ins. Especially the best ones.

Beyond being free, WordPress’s ubiquity means if you’re a content creator on the internet, you’ve probably used it before.

And if you haven’t, that’s no problem because it’s extremely user-friendly. Plus, it’s versatile enough to not only work as a great as a blog, but for many different possible projects.

Downsides to WordPress

However, there are serious downsides to using WordPress.

One is security simply because it’s so popular. The logic used by hackers is, if it’s popular, it makes more sense to figure out how to hack inside. Then, once discovered, the process can be repeated.

Another downside is that WordPress sites have slow download times. That means the audience is waiting for the site to load and could become disinterested and leave. Their use of redundant code and heavy themes certainly hurt their sites’ speeds.

Finally, the necessity of plugins is a third drawback. Using many plugins at once will result in lethargic loading times. On top of that, many crucial plugins are only accessible by paying a yearly subscription fee. That means your “free” site is now much more to operate a year.

Solution: Headless WordPress with React and deploy with Fathym

Here at Fathym, we’re not only a web host, but we offer a micro frontends platform, too.

That means we offer developers the freedom to choose whichever JavaScript framework they want to use for building sites with us. And in this case, we’re using React as the example.

React history

React was created in 2013 by Facebook and is used by their Instagram as well as Netflix and Dropbox, among others.  

React’s learning curve is much less steep than say Angular, partly because it’s not as robust as Angular. 

It takes a little bit longer to set up than Angular does but React can help deliver a finished product more quickly than the competitor. It also offers out-of-the-box tools and vast libraries for developers to work with. React is best used for single-page applications and when there’s a quick turnaround time for the final product. It’s best known for not only its flexibility, but for richer user interfaces, fast rendering and overall can save time vs. Angular. 

Build with React, display your content uniquely

A headless WordPress means, basically, the user still creates content (blogs, photo galleries etc) in WordPress’s back end, but by using APIs, that content is displayed on the frontend, built by React.

Why use React?


Within WordPress, creators are limited. They’re boxed into whatever plugins the CMS has already built.

Instead, developers have the ability to create new and unique design layouts. You can decide how best to display your content, and how your end-users interact with that content.

Let’s say you’re a fashion company. You can have a gallery of the latest T-shirts you’ve designed. But, when the user clicks the picture, they’re taken to a new page, which is a video of the model walking through the streets in that shirt.

The options are basically limitless!


A framework’s (or JavaScript library, as React is) popularity is important because it’s an indicator of how well is actually works.

According to StackOverflow’s 2021 survey of developers, React was the fourth-most popular JavaScript framework to use last year. In fact, 69.28% of respondents said they “love” to use it, with 30% saying they dread using React.

Popularity is also important because there’s a robust community out there which can answer questions if you run into issues.

Improved user experience

Because of React’s app size, websites built with it will load somewhat faster than they would on WordPress. That’s a big deal because, in 2022, when sites load slowly, sometimes users get disinterested and back out. Not only that, but load times can be indicative of professionalism, and for users with slower internet connections, the smaller size is needed, not just an added benefit.

The user experience continues to improve with better security than Wordpress, too. Because WordPress sites are so common, hackers have spent time to get into them, sometimes with DDoS attacks. When using a headless WordPress option, because the front end is decoupled from the back end (where all the information is stored), it’s almost impossible for hackers to get to that info.

Also, the user experience will be improved due to React’s ability to make really interesting, robust, well-functioning user interfaces. Some WordPress plugins can be a bit slow or glitchy, but a strong React developer can help create something wonderful.

Let Fathym host

Finally, bring that new headless WordPress site over to Fathym for your hosting needs. We utilize Microsoft Azure, have a free-to-start plan, and offer unique advantages like the Social UI for developers.

Fathym is free to try, it’s extremely easy to use and it’s secure.

Join Fathym today!

Further reading: Ranking CMS by popularity for 2022