What Is A Headless Website?

What is a headless website and what makes it different from a traditional CMS

Astronauts discussing what a headless website is

A headless website is constructed with the frontend (the part of the website that the user sees and interacts with) decoupled from the backend (the part of the website that stores and retrieves data). A traditional content management system (CMS) such as Wordpress, Squarespace or Shopify combine the frontend and the backend into a single platform. This makes it theoretically friendlier on a non-technical user to create, manage and update the website however it also makes the website more vulnerable, heavier and slower. A headless website, on the contrary, uses and API (application programming interface) to send and retreive data from the backend to the frontend and vice versa.

There are several noteworthy components of a headless website:

  1. Flexibility: Because the front end and back end are decoupled, it's easier to make changes to one without affecting the other. This means that you can use any front-end technology you want (e.g. React, Vue.js, Angular, Gatsby) and any back-end technology you want (e.g. Node.js, Ruby on Rails, Python) without being limited by the capabilities of a traditional CMS.
    1. For more information on our headless websites customized CMS using Sanity, read here for a full explanation and video showcasing a client backend.
  2. Performance: A headless website is generally faster and more scalable than a traditional CMS, because the back end is optimized for data retrieval and the front end is optimized for display. This is especially useful for websites with a large volume of traffic or complex data structures, or in situations having a light website will allow low-network users to engage properly with the website.
    1. To read more about speed performance and how it can affect conversion and SEO, click here (we also show the speed results for this very website!).
  3. Integration: Headless websites can be easily integrated with other systems and platforms using APIs, allowing you to build a seamless user experience across multiple channels (as well as a seamless site management experience).
    1. Read more about APIs and their role in headless development (and what that means for your company's automation opportunities).
  4. Security: Unlike traditional websites, headless websites are not dependent on a single technology stack. A traditional website, such as one built on WordPress, is reliant on a single technology stack. This means that if there is a security vulnerability in that technology stack, the entire website is at risk.
    1. Learn how your current site may be at risk here and if you want a list of free tools to scan your site for vulnerability, click here.

Overall, a headless website is a good choice if you want a flexible, scalable, and integrable platform for building a website. It may require more development effort upfront, but the benefits are significant in the long run.

That said, luckily here at LA Web Design, you can have your cake and eat it too. Our Pre-Builds provide blazing fast performance, SEO scalability, A/B testing, and more. This site is itself a headless Pre-Build that is available for customization through our 5 days to Go-Live program.

To speak with a specialist about your situation, reach out to us here and we'll dive in to your situation.

TJ Sullivan