• Author
    Hugues Lismonde
  • Date
  • Reading time
    3 min
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    Technical case

Headless & Wordpress

Understand our infrastructure


EPIC uses WordPress to manage the content of the websites it produces, and has been doing so in ‘headless’ mode for several years now. This approach allows development to be decoupled, but is not without precautions.

Why WordPress?

WordPress is still the most widely used CMS in the world, benefiting from a large community that ensures its constant evolution. Numerous commercial and free plugins are available, covering a wide range of functionalities (unfortunately not always headless-aware, as we will come back to…). The administrator experience remains one of the best compared to any established CMS.

All in all, WordPress remains the optimal solution for EPIC in managing content both ergonomically and efficiently.

Why headless ?

A headless CMS separates the presentation layer (frontend) from the content management layer (backend). This division enables content to be managed on one side and exploited across different digital channels on the other. Such separation facilitates the work of developers, who can focus on their respective areas of expertise and speed up development. Unlike in monolithic CMS, where content is integrated into templates, in headless CMS, content is structured, making it reusable in a multitude of ways. This approach opens up to many possibilities that were previously unattainable

In terms of performance, this separation facilitates the introduction of numerous optimization techniques at different levels, enabling much more dynamic scalability.


Considering that WordPress was originally not designed as a headless CMS and that new offerings regularly appear on the market, why choose WordPress? Unfortunately, most of these alternatives have major shortcomings, making them unsuitable for EPIC.

  • Immaturity: many of these CMS are very (too) recent and not yet sufficiently stable. The community behind them, though dynamic, remains too small and offers no guarantee of the tool’s longevity.
  • i18n: in Belgium, and very often in Europe, it is absolutely essential for a CMS to effectively manage content translations to offer a multilingual site. Most natively headless CMS are either monolingual or offer a translation management system that is too simplistic to be fully exploitable. WordPress, with Polylang Pro, is a powerful and flexible solution that meets virtually all of these requirements.
  • Price and openness: many of these headless CMS are either completely proprietary or “open-core”, offering a limited set of features for free and keeping most of the advanced functionality behind a subscription. Some require several thousand or even tens of thousands of euros per year to use.


Since EPIC chose WordPress, which is not natively headless, we had to tailor the solution to meet our needs.

What we didn’t do 

WordPress offers a Rest API that, theoretically, exposes content automatically. The problem with this API is that it doesn’t “know” the ACF fields we use to structure content (a topic for another article), which severely reduces its usefulness.


So we developed our own MVC (Model-View-Controller) on WordPress. Controllers expose data in JSON via “decorators”, a development pattern that wraps an object to enhance its capabilities without directly modifying it. In our case, this pattern mixes native WordPress posts with ACF fields and transforms the whole thing into JSON that can be consumed by the frontend.

EPIC’s objective is to provide a first-rate user and developer experience, while always keeping site performance and security in mind. To achieve this, it was very important for us to never modify the core of WordPress but rather to exploit native functionality to the full extent. This ensures that we can update as frequently as possible and install useful compatible plugins without adaptation.


Obviously, none of this is “free”. Since WordPress wasn’t originally designed for headless operation, certain difficulties had to be overcome.


This has less to do with headlessness than with the extensive use of ACF fields, but particular attention had to be given to the way content is constructed to avoid exponential queries generation. Once all the performance tricks are implemented, our internal cache plugin pulls the average performance of our sites under 50ms.


As WordPress is not a natively headless CMS, most plugins offering front-end functionality don’t work as is. Research is therefore critical to determine their usability. “Admin” plugins, on the other hand, are usually much easier to integrate. EPIC has in its toolbox a series of indispensable plugins such as Polylang Pro, ACF Pro, iThemes Security, etc., which make our day-to-day work easier.


WordPress is a mature CMS with a very large community, and despite its “age”, it remains modern and high-performance. While EPIC is constantly on the lookout for the “next generation” solutions, at the moment there is nothing that can effectively replace this venerable CMS.

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