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Single Page Application vs. Multi-page Application

mquanit profile image Mohammad Quanit ・5 min read

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Before we start to understand the difference between Single page applications and multiple page applications, we must know what these basically are, how we are using these apps on our daily bases and what are the pros and cons of these apps.

Both Single page apps (SPA) and multiple page apps (MPA) are nothing but web applications which we usually browse on our laptops and mobile devices, but their behaviors are a little bit different. As a normal user, you wouldn’t feel that much when you are browsing it, but there are some techniques that make the user experience (UX) of the website makes great and efficient. So first we see that what is Multiple Page Applications (MPA) and then we will see Single-page Applications (SPA) and then there differences.

Unequivocally, SPAs are the chartbusters these days and everyone wants it for their business. But before you hire a web application development company you must know if a SPA is suitable for your business needs or a traditional multi-page web application is good for you?

To answer this, first, lest understand the types of web applications.

Multi-Page Applications (MPA)

Multi-page applications are the traditional web applications that reload the entire page and display the new one when a user interacts with the web app.

Each time when a data is exchanged back and forth, a new page is requested from the server to display in the web browser. This process takes time to generate the pages on the server, sending it to a client and displaying it in the browser which may affect the user experience.

However, AJAX had made it possible to render just a particular component of the application, but this makes the development process even more difficult and complex. Multi-page applications have more classical architecture. Each page sends a request to the server and completely updates all the data. Even if these data are small. Thus, the performance is spent on displaying the same elements.

Pros of Multi-Page Applications

1. SIMPLE SEO OPTIMIZATION.
The architecture of MPA allows you to easily optimize every page for search engines. The developer can add Meta tags for any page.

2. EASY DEVELOPMENT.
Typically, developing a multi-page application requires a smaller stack of technologies.

3. MANY SOLUTIONS.
Using MPA you can find a suitable boxed solution. For example, use Magento, OpenCart to develop an e-commerce web application or Dolphin, Elgg for the development of social networks.

Cons of Multi-Page Applications

1. IT TAKES A LOT LONGER TO DEVELOP MOBILE APPLICATIONS.
In most cases, you will need to coding back-end from scratch.

2. IT IS DIFFICULT TO SEPARATE FRONT-END AND BACK-END.
As a rule, they interact very closely with each other. The work of front-end and back-end developers is becoming more complicated.

Single-Page Applications (SPA)

As per the name suggests single page applications consist of just one single Web page that interacts with the user by dynamically rewriting the current page rather than loading entire new pages from a server. This approach avoids interruption of the user experience between successive pages, making the application behave more like a desktop application. In a SPA, either all necessary code — HTML, and CSS & JavaScript — is retrieved with a single page load, or the appropriate resources are dynamically loaded and added to the page as necessary, usually in response to user actions. The page does not reload at any point in the process, nor does control transfer to another page, although the location hash or the HTML5 History API can be used to provide the perception and navigability of separate logical pages in the application. Interaction with the single page application often involves dynamic communication with the webserver behind the scenes.

There are many JavaScript frameworks such as Angular, Vue, and React adopted SPA principles.

SPAs are faster than traditional web applications because they execute the logic in the web browser itself rather than on the server. And after the initial page load, only data is sent back and forth instead of the entire HTML that reduces the bandwidth.

Pros of Single-Page Applications

1. HIGH SPEED.
Since SPA doesn’t update the entire page, but only the necessary part, it significantly improves the speed of work.

2. HIGH-SPEED DEVELOPMENT.
Ready-made libraries and frameworks provide powerful tools for developing web applications. The project can work in parallel back-end and front-end developers. Thanks to a clear separation they will not interfere with each other.

Cons of Single-Page Applications

1. POOR SEO OPTIMIZATION.
SPA works on the basis of JavaScript and downloads information on request from the client part. Search engines can hardly simulate this behavior. Because most of the pages are simply not available for scanning by search bots.

2. NOT ACTIVE JAVASCRIPT.
Some users disable JavaScript in their browsers, and without it, your application will not work.

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Each architecture has its advantages and disadvantages and is well suited to a particular type of project. SPA is distinguished by its speed and the ability to develop a mobile application based on the ready-made code. But at the same time, the SPA has poor SEO optimization. Thus, this architecture is an excellent approach for SaaS platforms, social networks, closed communities, where search engine optimization does not matter. MPA is more suitable for online stores, business sites, catalogs, marketplaces like Etsy, etc. Well-optimized MPA has high speed but still does not allow you to easily develop a mobile application. MPA and SPA with the right architecture are well suited for developing scalable web applications.

What’s your Business Need?

Does your business deal with specific products or services, or if you cater to a variety of products and services. If your business deals with a single product, nothing can be perfect than a single page application. While, if your business caters to a variety of services or products, you definitely need to give importance to each of them by bifurcating them on different pages with a multi-page application. This would even provide you the benefit of deep linking of every page.

Conclusion

Web apps these days, whether it be SPAs or MPAs are highly sophisticated, feature-rich and provide an amazing user experience. So, in order to get maximum out of these two approaches, you must consider the needs of your business and the customer. Above we have tried to cover the major factors that can help you to select between single page application and traditional multi-page application that would serve the maximum benefit to your business. If you still have any questions, do not hesitate to contact on muhammadquanit@gmail.com and check my other articles on my Official blog site.

If this post was helpful, please do check my GitHub and follow me on Twitter.

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Mohammad Quanit

@mquanit

Software Development Engineer with 3 years of Experience Creating and Architecting Web Solutions for clients. Experienced in client and server side JavaScript technologies including Serverless technol

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