The World of WordPress

In the past, we’ve tended to use WordPress to create content-based websites. Why? Well, it’s the most popular CMS (Content Management System) for a reason. As a free, open source online web creation tool, it’s pretty user-friendly. Plus, the code is written in PHP, which is a common language among web developers.

While there’s no doubt that WordPress is an excellent tool, technology is evolving. What we’re seeing now is a growing popularity in apps and web apps. So, what’s the difference between traditional, content-based sites and today’s web apps?

The Key Differences

1. Problem Solving

Traditional sites supply you with information, while web apps are more functional. They exist to provide you with a solution to a problem. Need a cheap ride in a jiffy? Uber it. Need to sell something online? eBay it. There’s an app for almost everything these days.

2. User Experience

Why have platforms like Netflix and Airbnb taken off? Because they’re easy to use and they look good doing it. They’re all about creating the ultimate user experience.

3. Innovative Interface

Sites that rely on content are generally made up of static images and text. Web apps have the ability to be far more engaging because they demand user interaction. And as more users engage, they change and improve in response.

Uber, eBay, Netflix, Airbnb… we’re talking about some of the biggest players out there. And what do they all have in common? They have built their user interface using React.

Here at Distl, we recognised the extraordinary potential of React early on. In fact, we’re already using React and making the most of its innovative capabilities. So, what is React, exactly?



ReactJS (JS stands for JavaScript) was developed in 2011 by the biggest player of them all: Facebook. React is a freely available JavaScript library that can create dynamic user interfaces. Like PHP, JavaScript is also a type of coding language. It’s been around since the mid-nineties, and it’s what allows websites to be interactive. Facebook would not be the application it is today without React and it’s use of JavaScript.

Distl Gets on Board

Backed by Facebook and written from JavaScript, React is certainly not a fad or a gimmick. About 18 months ago, we began to explore using React and developed an in-house boilerplate web app called Oban (yes, like the whiskey!). Think of a boilerplate as a set of code that forms the common basis for all websites. Oban allows our web development team to efficiently code web designs using React. At the same time, it allows our clients to easily manage and update their website using the familiar set up of WordPress. In a nutshell, Distl websites use React on the front end, and WordPress in the back end.

The Best of Both Worlds

There’s a lot of perks to be had from combining the powers of React and WordPress using Oban.

1. Superior User Experience

React quite literally reacts quickly. It allows for faster page load times and a speedy browsing experience on mobile devices, leading to seamless user experience that’s in line with Google’s move to the Mobile First Index. React compares a user’s current page with the new one the user has requested, and only updates the content that has to be changed. Anything fixed, like a header or a footer, does not need to be loaded again. This also allows for smooth transitions between web pages as well as quicker page loading times.

2. Locked Down Security

React has the ability to mask and limit access to the WordPress administrative area, which helps keep hackers away. It also takes away the need to use multiple plugins for front-end functionality. With less plugins, a website is once again less prone to being hacked. Plugins can also have a detrimental effect on SEO and can interfere with one another, creating bugs and errors. So, the fewer plugins, the better!

3. Smart and Simple

Less code. Less complexity. Better results. Oban allows our web developers to build standalone, reusable modular components. This means each time a new website project comes along, there’s no need to start from scratch. What’s more, if one component is altered, it won’t impact anything else. Template-based sites are generally made up of interrelated components. So, if you change one thing, it can throw something else out of whack. React takes away this issue completely.



React is already used by some of the biggest applications in the world, and now it’s starting to catch on in the mainstream. We’re fortunate to have embraced this technology early on. By 2030, we predict it will have all but replaced PHP-based WordPress sites.

If you’re interested in developing a new website and finding out if React is right for you – talk to us.

Jelena Giglia

Web Team Lead & Senior Web Project Manager