The most successful businesses in today’s fast-paced, dynamic, and competitive digital era are a testimony to the fact that being customer-centric is the only sustainable way of growing a business. And the rapidly decreasing attention spans of users are pushing businesses to dig newer and better ways of providing, seamless experiences to customers.
This is the reason why many organizations have started to build parts of their web applications using an emerging web design paradigm referred to as Single Page Application (SPA).
Gmail and Facebook, the two big giants whose apps drive your daily dose of the Internet and social media activity, are nothing but apps built using this latest paradigm, Single Page Applications.
In this blog, you will explore what exactly is a Single Page Application, its benefits and pitfalls, and how it brings the much-needed business value.
What is a Single Page Application?
A Single Page Application works in the browser and requires no page reloads and no extra waiting time for the users. A SPA continuously interacts with the user by dynamically rewriting the current page rather than loading entire new pages from a server. We see these types of applications every day: Trello, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter – are just a few examples to name.
Here is how web applications work in the SPA model:
When you send a request to visit a web page, the browser sends a request to the server and gets an HTML file in return. With a Single Page Application, the server only sends an HTML file on the first request; it sends just data known as JSON on subsequent requests.
Going by the explanation above, a Single Page Application will only rewrite the content on the current page instead of loading new pages in response to user actions. This, as we discussed, results in no page reloads and no extra waiting time.
The dynamic loading of content on SPAs creates a natural, fluid user experience, making the applications feel like native desktop or mobile applications.
The Pros & Cons of Single Page Applications
Just like all technologies, SPAs have a couple of disadvantages despite having numerous advantages. You will get to learn about the pros and cons of SPAs in the following section.
Here are some key advantages of SPAs:
1. Quick Loading Time
A Single Page Application loads quicker than traditional web applications, as it only has to load a page at the first request. Traditional web apps, on the other hand, have to load pages at every request, taking more time.
This is a great advantage, and according to Google research, if a page takes more than 200 milliseconds to load it can have a potentially higher impact on business and sales.
2. Pleasant User Experience
SPAs deliver desktop or mobile app kind of experience. The users do not have to watch a new page load, as only the content change and not the page, making the experience an enjoyable one.
3. Ease in Building Feature-Rich Apps
SPAs make it easy to add advanced features to a web application. For example, it is easier to build a content editing web app with real-time analysis using an SPA. Doing this with a traditional web app requires a total page reload to perform content analysis.
4. Uses Less Bandwidth
It is no surprise that Single Page Applications consume less bandwidth since they only load web pages once. Besides that, they can also do well in areas with a slow internet connection. Hence, it is convenient for everyone to use, regardless of internet speed.
Here are some of the disadvantages of Single Page Applications:
- Doesn’t Perform Well With SEO
- Uses a Lot of Browser Resources
1. Doesn’t Perform Well With SEO
One of the metrics that search engines use is the number of pages a website has. However, since Single Page Applications only load a single page, it serves as a disadvantage when ranking on the search engines.
2. Uses a Lot of Browser Resources
Single Page Applications require a lot of resources from the browser since the browser is the one doing most of the tasks for the SPAs. Creating Single Page Applications often require users to use the latest browsers with support for some modern features.
Popular Single Page Application Frameworks
If you have decided that building a SPA best suits your project requirements, then building it on a powerful framework is mandatory. Selecting a framework for building a single page application is a separate task which is beyond the scope of this blog. However, we are listing the 5 most popular frameworks that can handle the grand application architectures required for rich web apps.
Use Cases of SPAs
Single Page Applications ideal for building dynamic platforms with small data volumes. Apart from this, a single-page app fits perfectly well for future mobile app development. It is an excellent architecture for SaaS platforms, social networks, and closed communities where search engine optimization doesn’t matter. If a project requires effective SEO, on the other hand, then you should use a multi-page application.
There are numerous use cases of Single Page Applications. You can perform every task with Single Page Application that a traditional multi-page application can perform; however, the vice-versa is not the case.
Some common examples of Single Page Applications include:
- Gmail: You can open unread emails, delete, compose, and even send emails.
- Grammarly: You can get insights on a writeup, get grammatical corrections, and do SEO checks.
- Google Maps: You can search for new locations on the map, change places.
You can do all this without having to reload the page, which provides a far better experience than having to reload the page.
The benefits of using Single Page Applications are undebatable. While there are new trends in the web applications arena with improvements in SPAs such as Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), SPAs are definitely a step in the right direction towards web application development for the future.
If a startup wants to build a product with an end goal of increased visibility, greater user engagement and higher productivity for completing tasks or interactively exploring data, the key is to explore the fullest potential of SPAs.