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I'm a PHP developer creating a new site with a Wordpress backend. I'm niota Wordpress expert, I've managed to make custom page types in the old site's theme and can manage plugins etc but I'm not an expert on the core functionality of WP.

I've built a new clean HTML5/C33 template for the new site but it's pretty complicated - responsive mobile layout, multiple page types (Videos, Articles, Recipes etc) and within those pages, various layouts (a featured first article, boxes for trending and popular articles etc), lazy loading (to load more articles into a listing page). Plus the site needs to use a number of plugins like Monarch, OptinMonster, Starbox, WP Super Cache etc.

I always thought that using the Wordpress API in a site as opposed to making it a theme would result in degraded performance and reduced functionality (inability to use plugins etc).

Can using the API in the site achieve everything converting the site to a theme can, and without losing performance?

My choices are to:

  • Learn to build a Wordpress Theme and convert the site, integrate the plugins etc
  • Integrate the API into the existing site (probably this would give me more control over plugin placement, but would the plugins all still work?)
  • Hand this off to a Wordpress Theme Developer ;)

Any advice or your experiences would be appreciated :)

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I don't really know what you mean by "using the Wordpress API in a site as opposed to making it a theme" but I am assuming you mean something like "use the backend but not the front facing stuff". So, given that, yes you can, but a lot of things will not work. There are too many hooks in the WordPress core-- 'pre_get_posts' for example-- and that are expected in themes-- 'the_content', for example-- that won't fire. Some of these hooks are so ubiquitous that I'd expect a lot of plugins not to work. WordPress hooks its own functions to some of those so even some of Core won't likely work. By the time you figure out how to compensate for all of that you may as well have just learned to write a theme. So, honestly, one of these:

  1. Learn to build a Wordpress Theme and convert the site, integrate the plugins etc
  2. Hand this off to a Wordpress Theme Developer ;)

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