WordPress is an incredibly powerful and flexible platform with tens of thousands of plugins for adding and customizing features. Even so, sometimes there’s a different service that makes more sense to use for an aspect of your business’s online presence. It’s not uncommon for a business to want to integrate a 3rd-party platform or service that excels in a particular area with their WordPress site, and retain the benefits of both.
If you think about it, there’s a good chance you already have a plugin on your site interacting with a separate service. If you have a spot on your WordPress site where visitors can sign up for your newsletter on MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc., then that’s an example of WordPress sending data to another service. Or you might have a plugin that displays your latest Tweet, and that’s an example of WordPress retrieving data from another service. But those examples are just the “tip of the iceberg” as far as what’s possible.
WordPress Plugin for Integration with Headless Content Management System
Recently we had a client who decided they wanted to move all of their content creation and storage to a headless content management system. A headless CMS is a platform that lets you edit, manage, and store your content, but doesn’t provide any sort of display, or “front end” for the content. It’s like the admin section of WordPress, but without the actual website. A headless CMS simply provides the content to your other services or platforms, which can then display it. This client decided that they wanted to manage all of their content in the headless CMS. And then their websites, mobile apps, databases, and internal tools would all use the content from that same up-to-date source.
The new setup meant that their existing WordPress sites, that already had hundreds of posts added through the standard WordPress content editing tools, needed to be converted to use the content that had been added to the headless CMS instead. And, going forward, the WordPress sites would need to stay synchronized with any content changes that were ever made on the headless CMS.
We were able to build a custom plugin for them to retrieve the data from the new source, post it on the site, and continually monitor the external source for content changes and updates.
Thanks to the tools that WordPress has for programatically adding and editing content, we were able to build a custom plugin for them to retrieve the data from the new source, post it on the site, and continually monitor the external source for content changes and updates.
If you logged into one of these sites, you would find a normal WordPress installation, with normal WordPress posts. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the posts that are being retrieved externally and the original posts that used to be there. But, behind the scenes, every five minutes, the custom plugin securely checks with the headless CMS and makes any necessary updates to the content. The client can even control the promotional sliders on their websites, without ever logging into WordPress.
WordPress does many things very well, but sometimes it’s a good idea to make use of a service that focuses on doing just one thing well
WordPress does many things very well, but sometimes it’s a good idea to make use of a service that focuses on doing just one thing well, for the extra benefits that it can provide. In this case, the website itself was the not core business for the client. It was a place where they wanted to display information, but not where they wanted to actually manage the details. WordPress still provides them with an attractive, customized website, with excellent SEO and security tools, contact forms, etc. But they can manage the content in one centralized place, without needing to worry about manually updating the website to match what they are doing elsewhere.
We have done similar things for other clients, some simpler, some far more complex. The important thing to be aware of, is that the tools for accomplishing these types of integrations exist in WordPress. If you’re finding yourself updating the same content in multiple systems or if you’re using a separate service that you’d really like to integrate into your website somehow, then it might be time to investigate the options for pulling that information into your site automatically. If you have any questions or a similar need, drop us a line, and we’d be happy to explore the options with you.