Imagine having a website that’s sleek and modern, engages your visitors, and leaves a lasting impression on them. According to research carried out by Portent in 2022, your website’s speed and agility impact your site’s conversion and revenue rates. In this article, we’ll look at combining the flexibility of React with the robustness of WordPress. This potent and powerful duo can offer you a dynamic, scalable, and user-friendly website that will ensure your website’s visitors have a smooth experience. We’ll also explain what React is and the benefits of integrating it with your WordPress site. Additionally, we’ll guide you on how you can start with ReactJS to unlock the full potential of your online presence.
What is React?
- Component-based Architecture:
ReactJS works by breaking the UI down into smaller, reusable components. These components are the building blocks of your website’s front-end. They define the layout and behavior of your site. React’s components encourage code reusability, which ultimately leads to a more maintainable and scalable website. Moreover, they can be easily tested individually, making identifying and fixing bugs easier.
- Virtual React DOM:
The DOM (Document Object Model) provides a way for developers to manipulate the HTML elements on a web page. For example, you can use the DOM to add, delete or modify elements, change their styles, or respond to user interactions like clicks or keypresses. React’s most notable feature is that it uses a virtual DOM. The virtual React DOM is an in-memory representation of the actual DOM, which allows React to make efficient updates to the web page. This is especially beneficial if you have a lot of dynamic elements on your website. When changes are made to your website, React updates the virtual DOM and then compares it to the actual DOM using a process called reconciliation. This results in minimal updates to the actual DOM, dramatically improving your site’s performance and rendering times.
- Unidirectional Data Flow:
React’s unidirectional data flow ensures data is passed down from parent to child components through props. Props are a way to pass data from one component to another, usually from parent components to child components. This makes it easier to trace and manage the flow of data within the application, reducing the likelihood of errors and simplifying debugging.
There is a wide variety of third-party libraries and tools in React’s ecosystem. This will enable you to extend your website’s functionality and streamline your development process.
Benefits of using React with your WordPress website
Integrating React into your WordPress site has a variety of advantages. Moreover, you’ll find that React’s rich ecosystem of tools will come in handy for taking your site to the next level. Here are the key benefits of incorporating React with your WordPress site:
- Improved Performance
ReactJS will enable you to create a fast, efficient, and highly performant interface for your site through its virtual DOM implementation. This allows React to update only the components that need to be changed. This will result in a faster and more efficient rendering process of your website’s dynamic content.
- Reusable Components
When you use ReactJS for its reusable components and modularity, your website will be easier to maintain and scale. Additionally, implementing any design changes to your site’s front-end will be quick.
- Improved User Experience
React’s efficient rendering and ability to build interactive UI components can significantly enhance the user experience of your WordPress site. You can easily incorporate animations, transitions, and real-time updates into your website.
- Future-proofing Your Website
React is regularly getting updated and improved. Therefore, utilizing React will ensure that your website stays up-to-date with the latest advancements in web development.
How you can typically use React with WordPress
There are several ways you can integrate React into a WordPress website. Choosing from the following top approaches will depend on your goals and preferences for your WordPress website.
Create a custom WP theme using React
Creating a custom theme with React is a great way to give your WordPress site a unique look and feel. Moreover, you’ll be able to tailor it exactly to your specific needs and preferences. With some knowledge and creativity, you can use React to create a custom user experience for your website visitors. To get started, you must create a custom WordPress theme incorporating React as the primary front-end library. To do this, you’ll need to:
- Set up your development environment
npx create-react-app my-react-app
Your output should look like this:
Now, run the following commands that npm suggested once it is created your React app:
- Develop your React components and your WordPress theme’s folder structure
You’re going to need a strong understanding of the WordPress folder structure to be able to create the required WordPress theme files, such as index.php, functions.php, and style.css. Furthermore, you’ll need to know how to code with React and work with its components and props, and also PHP. If you are already a seasoned developer, create an src folder within your React project to store your custom components in. Then, design your custom theme by developing your custom React components. You’ll also need to use React Router to handle page navigation and the WordPress REST API to fetch data from your WordPress site.
- Set up your custom WordPress React theme
Now, you’ll need to drop your custom WP React theme into your WordPress main directory > wp-content > themes. Ensure that you’ve created a new folder in your themes directory with the name of your theme. Then, you will need to enqueue your WP React theme from inside your functions.php file using the wp_enqueue_script function. Enqeuing, here, means that you are properly including your React project files in your WordPress theme. This ensures that your React files are loaded in the correct order and don’t conflict with your plugins or core WordPress functionality. Lastly, in your index.php file, create a div and a unique ID to initialize and render your React theme. Your div should look something like this: <div id=”my-new-react-app”></div>. In addition, if you check your active themes from your WordPress dashboard > Appearance, you’ll find your custom React UI there.
Create Custom Gutenberg Blocks Using React
Gutenberg is the default block-based editor in WordPress, and it’s also built with React. It allows you to create content on your WordPress website using easy-to-use editing blocks. You can create your own custom Gutenberg blocks using React, which you can then add to your WordPress pages easily via the Gutenberg editor. There are a couple of methods for creating custom Gutenberg blocks, but for this tutorial, we are going to be using the following approach:
- You’ll need to use the create-guten-block toolkit. This toolkit will set up a code template, referred to as a boilerplate, with all the necessary configurations you’ll need. Go to your WordPress \wp-content\plugins\ directory and execute the following commands:
npm install -g create-guten-blockcd my-new-custom-blocknpx create-guten-block my-new-custom-block
This will create a new folder with the name my-new-custom-block and the necessary files for your custom block. In the newly created src folder of your React block project, you will find three subfolders: block, editor, and style. The block folder contains the main code of your custom Gutenberg block that will make it function. On the other hand, the editor and style folders hold the CSS and front-end elements.
Open the block.js file under the path \plugins\my-new-custom-block\src\block\. You’ll find a function called edit. This function is essentially where you will be coding your custom React components for your Gutenberg block’s editing interface. You can also use ready-made components from the @wordpress/components package. To make sure you have all the dependencies you might need set up, run the following command:
npm install @wordpress/scripts @wordpress/block-editor @wordpress/blocks @wordpress/components @wordpress/element
Lastly, run the following command:
npm run build
Your custom block is now ready to be used by you from the WordPress Gutenberg editor.
Create a headless WordPress Site with React as the front-end
Usually, WordPress is used as an all-in-one platform that combines both the back-end and the front-end development and management of your website. However, combining WordPress as a headless CMS with a React front-end can enable you to build a powerful, flexible, and scalable website. Even if you are working on an online store, a headless WooCommerce website will provide your customers with a dynamic and modern user experience. Essentially, a headless WordPress setup refers to using WordPress only as a content management system and data source, but not for rendering the front-end. You would then use React as the front-end and UI of your website as a separate application.
What tools do you need to build a web app with React and WordPress?
Using React and WordPress to create your website requires a few tools to help you streamline your development process and build a performant, scalable application. If you’re a business owner with an in-house development team, you may have the resources to power through this tutorial. However, if you’re a solo entrepreneur or a smaller business and you’re looking for the assistance of technical experts in the field, you will find submitting your project to Codeable and hiring an expert an excellent choice. We provide access to a network of skilled WordPress developers adept in web development with the following tools. They’ll even help you with everything from plugin creation to website design and development.
On the other hand, if you are interested in learning more about what it takes to build your website with WP and React, here are the tools you’ll need and why you’ll need them:
- WordPress Install, WordPress REST API, and WP REST API Controller
WordPress, by default, includes the WordPress REST API as a standard feature in all up-to-date versions. This will allow you to integrate React with your WordPress website seamlessly. Moreover, plugins like WP REST API Controller can manage API endpoints through a user interface. This will make it easier for your to develop your WordPress website using React.
- Local Development Environment (LDE)
Localhost tools, such as XAMPP or MAMP, will enable you to create and test your website on your computer. These tools will help you create a local WordPress environment to develop, test, and debug your application without affecting your live site. Once you are happy with the changes, you can deploy the website to your live server for others to see.
- Code Editor and Version Control
Visual Studio Code or Atom are powerful text editors that make writing and editing code more efficient. They provide syntax highlighting, autocompletion, and extension support, which are useful features you’ll need when coding with React. Additionally, a version control like GitHub will keep your code and its versions organized.
- Node.js, npm, and the create-react-app
- The Axios Library
The Axios library facilitates making HTTP requests from your React app to your WordPress website. This is particularly useful if you’re using the WP REST API.
- React Frameworks and Boilerplates
These play a crucial role in developing your React app because they will provide you with ready-to-use tools, standards, and templates that will facilitate your development process. Some popular React frameworks include Frontity, Faust, Gatsby, and Next. Furthermore, Gatsby and Next.js are React frameworks specifically designed for generating static sites and rendering content on your server side. On the other hand, Frontity and Faust are designed to work with WordPress and have pre-built components and libraries that can help you create your modern and responsive headless CMS site quickly and easily.
Considerations when building your web app with React and WP
When considering integrating React into a WordPress site, it’s important to choose the approach that will be efficient for your website needs based on the following aspects:
- Existing Infrastructure
The compatibility, scalability, and development time, and cost can be affected by the infrastructure you have in place. Choosing an approach that is compatible with your existing infrastructure can help ensure a smoother and more efficient development process. For example, a headless setup may be more efficient for your website needs. However, it needs more development effort, backend changes, expertise, and resources.
- Maintenance and Updates
Regular maintenance and updates are crucial aspects when using React with WordPress to develop a website. Regular maintenance and updates benefit your website’s performance, security, and stability. Compatibility issues and security vulnerabilities may arise without regular updates without, resulting in a poor user experience and potential site crashes. The headless setup simplifies updates, as frontend and backend updates are separate.
- Developer Skillset
- SEO Considerations
SEO is important for your website’s discoverability and ranking in search results in order to increase your conversion rates and profit. When using React with WordPress, it’s important to consider how it will affect SEO, such as how search engines will crawl and index your content. Moreover, a headless setup may require extra effort to implement SEO best practices for effective search engine optimization.
Best practices when configuring react
Configuring React to work with your WordPress requires careful attention to several key aspects. In this sectiolar code improves code organization, maintainability, reusability, scalability, and testability tell you about the best practices you’ll need to implement in your project. These best practices are provided by Codeable expert Robert Meszaros, whose areas of specialization include site migration and custom API integration.
- Write Modular Code
Writing modular code. By breaking your code into smaller, self-contained modules, you can manage and reuse it, ensuring that it works as expected more easily. Therefore, it’s best to write reusable, modular React components to keep your codebase organized and maintainable.
- Use a State Management Library
Using a state management library provides a centralized way of managing the state of your application, making it easier to build and maintain larger and more complex applications. Additionally, it can simplify managing and updating your website while providing modularity and testability benefits. If you’re developing a complex website, consider using a state management library like Redux to manage the application efficiently and predictably.
- Optimize Performance
Optimizing performance improves the user experience by reducing load time and response time. To optimize performance, you should consider features such as caching static assets, code splitting, and using lazy loading. These best practices will improve the site’s speed and user experience.
- Implement a Consistent API
Using a consistent and well-documented API like WordPress REST API or GraphQL simplifies the data fetching between your React app and WordPress website. It ensures seamless integration and reliable performance. When choosing the API you’ll work with, consider that there are certain principles and constraints that define RESTful architecture. This is because no official standards or specifications define how a RESTful API should be designed or implemented. GraphQL APIs, on the other hand, tend to follow a more consistent and predictable pattern. The functions of a GraphQL API will depend on how it is designed and implemented by its developer. This is an excellent guide that compares GraphQL APIs with RESTful APIs.
- Plan for Extensibility
Designing your website’s architecture with extensibility in mind allows for more flexibility, scalability, modularization, and reusability in the long run. It future-proofs your website and enables you to easily add new features or changes without affecting your existing codebase.
- Automated Testing
Automated testing saves time and ensures consistency, scalability, reliability, and stability. It will help you to identify errors early on and prevent issues from frustrating your website’s visitors.
If you’re seeking to build your website using WordPress and React through a skilled developer who will follow best practices, hiring Robert Meszaros will be a smart choice. He has extensive experience in clean code architecture, version control, and testing. He’s also dedicated to staying up-to-date with the ever-evolving industry advancements.
Build your website using WP and React with the Help of Codeable
All in all, using React alongside WordPress is a powerful way to create a flexible, scalable, and highly performant website. With WordPress as the CMS backbone, you get the benefits of its content management system while still having the ability to use React to create custom components or an entirely decoupled front-end. However, this process can be complicated and challenging if you don’t have sufficient coding experience. Fortunately, our Codeable experts are available to help you overcome this obstacle and can even be filtered by their experience in React development. With our library of experts, you can be confident that you’ll find a developer who will meet your exact technical needs. Whether you’re looking to create a new web app or optimize your existing website, just submit your project to Codeable and let our experts carry out all your technical needs.