How to Use Webhooks in WordPress

Written by Technology Writer

February 27, 2024
How to Use Webhooks in WordPress

If we are to get abstract for a moment, you can think of web development like a symphony. Webhooks, then, would be a conductor in this example, orchestrating seamless communication between different web applications.

For WordPress users, webhooks offer a powerful way to automate actions and streamline workflows, without the need for constant manual oversight. But how can you put them to use in a practical sense?

In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of webhooks in WordPress, guiding you through their setup, utilization, and best practices to ensure your website runs as intended.

Understanding Webhooks

Before we dive into the technicalities, let's unpack what webhooks are. And to do that, we'll start with an example.

So you know when you go to a pizza place and make an order, how sometimes you're given a device that lights up when your order is ready? Webhooks work similarly. Automated messages, sent from apps when events occur, contain a payload and are delivered to a specific URL. But they are only triggered when these events happen.

Unlike APIs, which require you to poll for updates actively, webhooks are the proactive counterparts that send you the information as it happens, in real-time. This not only makes them efficient but also significantly reduces the workload on your server.

In WordPress, webhooks can be used to trigger actions on your site or notify other applications when specific events occur. They're a key part of dynamic site behavior and can be used for anything from updating a user's data to integrating with external services like Zapier or IFTTT.


Before you start using webhooks (and get the most out of them in WordPress), there are a few things you need to know:

  • A foundational understanding of WordPress, including themes and plugins.
  • Familiarity with WordPress's hooks system, which includes actions and filters. WordPress hooks allow you to tap into the core code of WordPress, which is essential for creating or receiving webhooks.
  • A grasp of the WordPress REST API, which is often used in conjunction with webhooks for sending and receiving JSON-formatted data.

If you're new to any of these concepts, it's worth taking the time to brush up on them. The WordPress Developer Resources provide a wealth of information on hooks and the REST API, which will be invaluable as you work with webhooks.

Setting Up Webhooks in WordPress

Now, let's set the stage for webhooks in your WordPress environment. Setting up webhooks involves a few steps, which we'll cover in detail:

1. Finding Webhook Settings in WordPress: Depending on what you're trying to achieve, webhook settings can be found in different locations. For some plugins, like WooCommerce, webhook settings are built-in and can be accessed directly from the plugin settings page.

2. Creating a New Webhook: You'll learn how to create a new webhook by specifying the event that triggers the webhook and the action that should be taken in response.

3. Securing Your Webhooks: Security is a must, especially when dealing with webhooks that can modify your site's data. We'll go over some best practices to keep your webhooks secure from unauthorized access.

In the following sections, we'll delve into each of these steps, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of how to implement webhooks on your WordPress site. Whether you're looking to automate routine tasks, integrate with third-party services, or create a more dynamic and responsive user experience, webhooks are a versatile tool that can help you achieve your goals.

Using Webhooks with WordPress Plugins

Many WordPress plugins come with built-in support for webhooks, allowing you to easily automate tasks and integrate with external systems. Let's look at how you can leverage webhooks with some of the most popular WordPress plugins.

WooCommerce Webhooks

WooCommerce, the renowned eCommerce plugin, utilizes webhooks to notify other systems about events like new orders, updated products, and completed transactions.

WooCommerce Webhooks

Here’s how you can set them up:

1. Access Webhook Settings: Navigate to WooCommerce > Settings > Advanced > Webhooks.

2. Create a New Webhook: Click on Add Webhook and fill in the necessary details such as name, status (active or inactive), topic (the event that triggers the webhook), and the delivery URL (where the data will be sent).

3. Save and Test: After saving your webhook, it’s crucial to test it to ensure it's firing correctly and the receiving system is getting the data as intended.

WPForms Webhooks

WPForms is another plugin that supports webhooks, enabling you to send form submissions to other applications. Here's how to configure webhooks in WPForms:

1. Enable Webhooks Addon: Install and activate the Webhooks addon from the WPForms Addon page.

2. Configure Webhook URL: Edit your form in WPForms, go to Settings > Webhooks, and enter the Webhook URL where you want to send the form data.

3. Map Form Fields: Specify which form fields correspond to which data points are expected by the receiving system.

By configuring webhooks in these plugins, you can automate data transfer and streamline workflows, making your WordPress site more efficient and connected.

Custom Webhooks in WordPress

Sometimes, you might need to go beyond the capabilities of plugins and create custom webhooks tailored to specific needs. This section will guide you through writing your own webhook in WordPress.

Use Custom Code

You can write custom code in your theme’s functions.php file or in a custom plugin. This code will define what happens when your webhook is triggered.

add_action('init', 'custom_webhook_trigger');
function custom_webhook_trigger(){
 if( isset($_GET['my_custom_webhook']) ){
add_action('my_custom_webhook', 'my_custom_webhook_action');
function my_custom_webhook_action(){
 // Your custom code here

Test Your Webhook

Use tools like Postman or cURL to test your webhook and ensure it's working as expected.

Perform Debugging

Perform Debugging

Debugging can be done using the WordPress built-in error_log() function or by using a plugin like Query Monitor.

Advanced Webhook Integrations

Integrating third-party services with WordPress via webhooks can significantly extend the functionality of your site. Services like Zapier or Make (formerly Integromat) can connect your WordPress site to hundreds of other services, automating tasks like posting to social media, updating spreadsheets, or sending email notifications.

A couple of things you could try include:

Automating Social Media Posts

Set up a webhook to automatically post to social media whenever a new blog post is published.

Dynamic CRM Updates

Send customer data from WooCommerce to your CRM system whenever a purchase is made. This can help you keep track of customer information, order history, and more.

Real-time Email Notifications

Set up a webhook to send an email notification whenever a new user registers on your site or when a critical error occurs. This can help you stay on top of important events and take action immediately. These are just some examples, but the possibilities are endless with these integrations.

Best Practices for Using Webhooks

When using webhooks, it’s important to follow best practices to maintain the security and performance of your WordPress site. Here are three key areas to keep track of and tips related to each: security, performance, and maintenance.

Security Considerations

  • Always use HTTPS when configuring webhooks to ensure secure communication between your site and the third-party service.
  • Use authentication methods like OAuth or API keys to verify the identity of the webhook request sender.
  • Implement rate limiting to prevent overwhelming your site with too many webhook requests at once.

Performance Considerations

  • Use a dedicated webhook plugin or service instead of relying on custom code, as this can reduce the risk of errors and improve performance.
  • Be selective about the type and frequency of events that trigger webhooks to avoid unnecessary requests and potential performance issues.
  • Regularly test your webhooks to ensure they are functioning correctly and troubleshoot any errors that may arise.
  • Consider processing webhook data asynchronously to avoid slowing down your site.

Maintenance and Monitoring

  • Keep track of the webhooks you have set up and regularly review and update them as needed.
  • Monitor your webhook logs to ensure they are delivering data correctly and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
  • Consider setting up alerts or notifications for critical webhook events to stay informed at all times.


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Getting Started with Webhooks in WordPress

Webhooks offer a powerful way to automate and extend the functionality of your WordPress site. By understanding how to set up, use, and secure webhooks, you can create a more efficient and integrated web experience.

Remember to follow best practices and keep security at the forefront of your webhook implementations. And with proper setup and maintenance, webhooks can be a valuable tool in streamlining your workflow.

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