On March 4th the GMD dev team attended the DeCode virtual conference put on by the WordPress hosting company, WP Engine. In addition to keynotes from the founder of WP Engine, CEO of Yoast and one of the Co-creators of WordPress, attendees had the choice of several paths: setup, build, launch and optimize. While these tracks were all primarily dev focused and featured sessions on local development, headless WordPress, optimization, CI/CD (continuous integration, continuous delivery) and security there were also sessions throughout the day that were of interest to marketers and publishers. These sessions included talks on usability testing, Amazon & WooCommerce, SEO and analytics.

Each of us on the dev team attended different sessions throughout the day and have put together our top takeaways from the conference.

Key Takeaways:


  • Headless WordPress (WP) using Atlas allows static loading across pages which delivers faster page speed–a key performance indicator in SEO.
  • Headless WP allows developers who are not well-versed in WordPress/PHP to work efficiently inside the WP environment.
  • Vice-versa, headless allows traditional WordPress developers to expand their knowledge base and delve into working with and building React applications.


  • Headless makes website performance super fast–dynamic with the speed of static.
  • Websites are usually investments with a lifespan and headless helps to extend that by future-proofing sites with more flexibility, and ability to integrate modern technologies such as voice control, virtual reality, or creating a mobile app.
  • Headless allows devs to choose the right tools for a project and can implement the flexibility of component based building which means more explicit code = more clarity for “Devs down the road” and hopefully better maintenance cost on custom projects.
  • Headless WP is more secure because the back-end can’t be accessed as easily as standard WordPress.


  • Atlas will optimize loading speed and is supposed to show faster than other headless stacks.
  • Atlas makes it easier to integrate WP as a backend with front end framework.
  • Graph QL makes data handling easier.
  • CI/CD still needs manual check lists.


  • Headless is here. No longer something that is coming in the future, developers and clients are building apps using Headless WordPress and are reaping the benefits, with faster sites, and better conversion rates.
  • We are moving towards a dev landscape where WP & Javascript devs are no longer silo’d and can use the same infrastructure to build exciting web applications with a first-in-class CMS (WordPress)
  • WP Engine’s Atlas hosting platform is a huge investment in Headless technology. This indicates that Headless is something that agencies and customers have been asking for. The path to scaling a WordPress website into a Headless web application is now within grasp of many customers.
  • If WP Engine is on board with Headless then it is only a matter of time before other hosts, agencies and service providers follow suit and offer tailored services for Headless WP.



Headless, Headless, Headless!

As you may have already guessed from all of our notes, Headless WordPress was the catchphrase of the day.

What is Headless?

Headless WordPress is a method of creating a web application using WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS) and a Javascript framework such as React or Vue to create a front end application using the data stored in the WordPress CMS. In practical terms this can mean simple applications that create static web pages which load blazingly fast, create dynamic web pages using location and other user info to best tailor content and content placement to best suit that user or to create mash ups with other data sets or data streams.

Why should I care?

First off, Headless WordPress sites and in particular those on the WP Engine’s Atlas platform are fast, like blink of the eye fast. Loading pages quickly is a huge factor in online campaign success, and a Headless app can potentially load your site much more quickly than a traditional theme while still allowing for SEO friendly content and unique features. These unique page features are where we as designers and devs get to stretch our creative muscles for you. One great example of this is the Houzz app that was developed using a Headless architecture that allowed users to see furniture in their homes via a Headless WordPress Augmented Reality App. This app was able to increase conversions more than 11x times following its roll out. Finally, there is scalability. While your business might not be ready for a Headless WordPress application yet, you can comfortably invest in a WordPress website knowing that in the future all of the data that have accumulated in the WordPress CMS can scale along with your business. For us this is just one more reason to choose WordPress when deciding on a CMS for your new website.