WordPress ReactJS Website Tutorial: How to Build a Great Web Application

Over the years, WordPress has become the gold standard for blogging platforms. Its clean interface and flexibility have made it incredibly popular. If you’re looking to launch a new blog or just want to add more functionality to your existing site, you could do a lot worse than choose this platform.

React is a front-end framework created by Facebook that provides a sleek, intuitive interface to developers who want to create custom web applications. Facebook’s use of React in their engineering offices has made it clear that this is a framework that will continue to grow in popularity.

Why React for Custom Web Applications?

The best way to answer this question is to provide you with a short history lesson on front-end development. For years, web developers have used a tool called “static generators” to quickly and easily build web applications. These are applications that are always the same, meaning they don’t require users to log in or create an account to use them. Examples of this type of application include, but are not limited to:

  • Shopify’s online store builder
  • Wix’s web-building platform
  • Square’s Cash App
  • DZone’s website builder
  • Medium’s publishing platform

All of these platforms use something called “Bootstrap” which, as you may know, is a popular front-end framework. Bootstrap provides high-quality, well-designed templates that can be customised with a simple CSS workflow. It was originally built for use on the Twitter website, but has since grown to become a complete front-end framework.

If you’ve ever worked with static generators, you’ll no doubt have realised that they’re not suited for creating interactive, customized web applications. This is why developers often turn to a tool like React when they want to build a custom application:

  • It allows them to focus on the dynamic elements of their application, rather than the plumbing that keeps the website up.
  • It provides them with a simple, intuitive interface that allows for quick iteration.
  • The ability to easily reuse pieces of code across multiple projects means fewer mistakes and quicker time to market.
  • React can be customized through a plugin ecosystem, allowing for great feature parity with third-party solutions.

If these reasons sound good to you, then you might want to try out React for your next web project.

Getting Started With React

With any new technology, there’s always some confusion surrounding proper terminology and implementation. Let’s clear the air by defining a few key terms:

  • React: a JavaScript library created by Facebook that provides a view layer on top of HTML. It provides a simple, clean interface that allows for quick iteration. As a result, it has become extremely popular among web application developers.
  • ReactDOM: the React’s JavaScript UI library. Think of it as the “core” of your React application. It provides the framework that makes up your UI. When you call the ReactDOM library, you’re essentially telling React that you’re about to pop up a new window or tab on the screen.
  • HTML: the Hypertext Markup Language. Like JavaScript, HTML is also a programming language that web browsers use to display web pages. It was originally designed for creating websites, but has since been adapted to create custom applications.
  • CSS: the stylesheet language which provides styles for HTML documents and web pages. If you’re new to front-end dev, then this is the language you’ll want to familiarise yourself with. You’ll use CSS to style the widgets and elements on your site.
  • Sass: the syntax highlighter built into most modern web browsers which makes writing CSS easier. Sass allows for significantly better performance than CSS as well. If you’re not familiar with it, you might want to try it out.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. For this tutorial, we’ll be building a simple WordPress blog with the help of the free version of WordPress. You’ll be using the popular WIX platform to build out the blog’s skeleton. (WIX is a popular web-builder that provides all the tools you need to get started for free).

WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms in the world. Over 500 million people use it to create blogs and news sites. With its versatile plugin ecosystem and large community, you’re sure to find all the tools you need to build your very own blog. On that note, let’s get started by installing WordPress on your new web server.

Visit the WordPress website, click on the Get started button and follow the onscreen instructions to create your own login. You’ll now be on the WordPress dashboard. From here, you can access your site’s source code, review the comments and track the stats of your articles. It’s a very basic WordPress dashboard, but you can already start creating content.

If you find the WordPress interface a little clunky, you can opt to use one of the many third-party WordPress plugins that provide a more streamlined user experience. We’ll be using the Free version of WordPress for this tutorial, but you should consider using a premium plugin for maximum performance. In this case, we’ll be using WP Bakery, a feature-packed plugin for creating highly customised blogs.

WIX

WIX is a free website builder that provides all the tools you need to get started building your own professional-looking website in no time. With WIX, the entire process of building a blog or news site is made incredibly easy. It provides a sleek, user-friendly interface and is completely free. To give you some ideas on what you can build with WIX, here are some of our favourite website designs created using the platform:

What also makes WIX exciting is the fact that it provides you with a fully-featured blogging platform, without the need to purchase a proprietary plugin. With WIX, you don’t need to choose between a free blogging platform and a blogging platform you can buy. For this reason, we recommend giving it a go.

React

With any new technology, there’s always some confusion surrounding proper terminology and implementation. Let’s clear the air by defining a few key terms:

  • React: a JavaScript library created by Facebook that provides a view layer on top of HTML. It provides a simple, clean interface that allows for quick iteration. As a result, it has become extremely popular among web application developers.
  • ReactDOM: the React’s JavaScript UI library. Think of it as the “core” of your React application. It provides the framework that makes up your UI. When you call the ReactDOM library, you’re essentially telling React that you’re about to pop up a new window or tab on the screen.
  • HTML: the Hypertext Markup Language. Like JavaScript, HTML is also a programming language that web browsers use to display web pages. It was originally designed for creating websites, but has since been adapted to create custom applications.
  • CSS: the stylesheet language which provides styles for HTML documents and web pages. If you’re new to front-end dev, then this is the language you’ll want to familiarise yourself with. You’ll use CSS to style the widgets and elements on your site.
  • Sass: the syntax highlighter built into most modern web browsers which makes writing CSS easier. Sass allows for significantly better performance than CSS as well. If you’re not familiar with it, you might want to try it out.