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Single-Page Apps or Multiple-Page Apps –What’s better for Web Development

ryanmiller profile image Ryan Miller ・5 min read

Single-Page Apps or Multiple-Page Apps
Single-Page Applications, better known as SPAs, are all in rage these days in the space of web application development. Most of the businesses talk about it and developers explore it to bring out better ideas and insights around it. But at the same time the fine old Multiple-Page apps (MPAs) are doing steadily well.
If you compare the two for their authority, value and reach in the market, it proportionally weighs almost equal in the present scenario. So, how would you find which is better for web development. Well, before we move further to dissect and compare them on different utility and value parameters, let’s first know what it actually means when you say Single-Page Apps and Multiple-Page Apps.

Going by the meaning

SPA is a web application that can all fit on a single HTML page. It gets reloaded and readjusted when opened on different screen sizes and display formats. It arranges its appearance, reception and style to finely adjust and accommodate within different visual vents responsively. So, if you see an SPA on a phone’s screen and then into a full-sized monitor screen, it will look all the same in formation and relativity but will be presented in different visual capacities and formats to go with the screens well. With SPAs when you perform an action the interface remains untouched. Google, Facebook, Trello are all SPAs. Most promotional or landing pages are also SPAs.

When we say that a certain web app is on a multiple-page setup, it means it is being layered with multiple levels of UI and is spread across different HTML layouts. These are mostly heavier in size and broader in terms of visual attribution and range. When you request a particular content or bang on a link, it displays the data if that belongs to the similar page or otherwise submits data back to the server to request rendering of a new page from the server to the browser. Most of the modern multiple paged web apps use AJAX to make this process of rendering fast and smooth unlike the traditional approach that was sluggish and bulky. Still, as much expected, these pages take time to build and cannot be as sorted and swift as SPAs but are good to build bigger web apps.

Pros and Cons

If we compare them side by side it should reveal more of it from the user’s perspective. So. Here are the major pros and cons of both Single-Page and Multiple-Page Web Applications.

Single-Page Apps

Pros

  1. Single-Page Applications are fast, flexible and smooth to work with as they are compact and lean in form.

  2. The development approach to SPAs is simple and streamlined and therefore you face less complexities building SPAs.

  3. SPAs can be easily debugged using Chrome by monitoring and investigating network operations, page elements and other data resources.

  4. SPAs can easily and effectively cache local storage.

Cons

  1. It is not an easy task to optimize SPAs for SEO as based on a single page format it has least scope for indexing page-exclusive keywords.

  2. It is slow to download as it is meant to load heavy client frameworks.

  3. JavaScript is needed to make it work. Which means if by any chance you get disconnected from JavaScript on the browser, you won’t be able to run the application properly.

  4. Due to cross-site scripting SPAs are more prone to leaks and risks and therefore are less secure.

Multiple-Page Applications

Pros

  1. Best for heavier apps that can’t be well presented and ideally concluded in a single page format.

  2. Best for users who like to have visual map and menu navigation to browse pages.

  3. Quite helpful from the SEO perspective. As you can optimize pages more relevantly and resourcefully.

  4. Allows better scope of security and integrity of data.

  5. MPAs offer more scalability.

Cons

  1. Multiple-Page Applications don’t allow you to have the same backend with mobile application.

  2. Frontend and Backend are unvaryingly coupled which makes it a bit rigid and reclusive to apply changes independently at both ends.

  3. Development of MPA is a bit more complex than that of SPA. As, the developer can’t work on the client side and the server side of the framework at the same time.

SPA or MPA?

Before finding answer to whether you should go with MPA or SPA, you should first ascertain and define your scope and requirement against the underlying performance and service goals. Here, you should be well-defining the preferences and priorities you need to put up with to best commit to your solution.

So, if, for an instance, your idea is to come up with an app that allows students from different education backgrounds and disciplines to take tests and refer to learning resources from different subjects, you should go with MPA. This would allow you to create different pages dedicated to different subjects and would ideally serve your purpose of accommodating it all in a well-defined interface layout, categories, and slots that are well segregated to serve different users in a more relevant and organized manner.

Apart from this if you have to allow your users with more secured and consistent platform, MPAs are more dependable compared to SPAs. Here, it would be also helping in optimizing different app pages for searches besides allowing a better and wider exposure to the app.

Otherwise, if you would like to go lean and neat, just presenting it all in a compact form and if your idea best fits into a straight and one-page communication layout, SPAs are for you. Like for instance, you have to promote a product which is an Antivirus. Here, you just need to put across its description, credentials, brands, testimonials along with a range of features. It can be best presented with a Single-page application that consistently works with different display types. This page would be best conveying your message inclusively by compiling and presenting the whole pitch and value of your solution through interrelated segments. This elongated single page can also be presented with URL anchors to build browser navigation and preference functionality in the form of aggregated communication resources and discrete design elements spread across to connect users to the service.

Conclusion

This whole explanation points towards the fact that both SPA and MPA are meant to inclusively deliver different purposes. And, reading between the phrases you should be pretty clear if your idea of web development is more towards having a Single-Page Application or a Multiple-Page Application. If not, you can take more inferences, analyze, assess and reevaluate if required, and connect with expert mobile app developers to get best guidance on choosing what suits you the best, and your purpose would be all sorted!

Discussion (3)

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matteojoliveau profile image
Matteo Joliveau

I think you misunderstood what SPA and MPA really mean.

A single page application is not just a website that can fit in a single HTML and adapt itself to the screen (this is just responsiveness, MPAs can use it too) but rather it is an application that can leave entirely on the browser, requiring a static asset download only for the first page request (not counting local cache) and then modify itself through DOM manipulation, simulating a multi-page app, with multiple routes and whatnot, but without actually relying on a web server to serve all the pages and without the need to reload in order to change the view. Trello or Google Docs are indeed SPAs but Facebook, for instance, is not, as it reloads the page when you visit a different URL.
SPA can (and typically MUST) have multiple "pages", or routes as they are called, the key difference is that each page is actually being rendered directly by the client and not on the server, which makes SPAs able to navigate quickly and swiftly because no network request must be made.

A multi-page application is a website where every URL (or route inside the app) is tied to a particular page (or HTML file) served by a web server. They are slower, because you have to request and download HTML and static assets for every page (again, you can cache it but that's not the point) but they are easier to optimize (you can cache rendered pages on the server and ease the browser of some load) and the first load is faster (in SPAs, views have to be built client-side through JavaScript, which increases loading time for the first page).

Another thing you missed is that while MPAs can (but usually are not) be built of single standalone HTML file, one for each page, SPAs views are much more fragmented since you normally split your UI in multiple, composable fragments called components. Which make it easier to reuse and organize code, but also increases your codebase size.

Again, I think you're wrong when you say that SPA development is leaner and faster (but I think it's correlated to the misunderstanding of what an SPA is), since you can't just have some JS laying around and imported into your HTML, but you actually have multiple JS files containing custom components that must be imported, bundled (alongside your dependencies, and this typically involves learning how to operate a module bundler like Webpack) and minified.

Finally, a quick note on SEO. While it's true that SPAs are more difficult to SE-optimize, search engines like Google can now crawl JS-generated contents without problems and SPA rankings have much improved over the past few years. I would use an MPA only for sites with long-lasting contents (like blogs for example), but for the rest, there is not so much difference between SPAs and MPAs nowadays, SEO-wise.

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rishabh52510351 profile image
Rishabh Raj

Thank You For Sharing such an important post, I really like the way you present the things. We are providing the best mobile app development experience to our customers, To get such experience contact us or visit our website. Regards- pegalogics.com

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Jessie Smith • Edited

I totally agree with Ryan Miller, they have explained it very well. According to me, Multiple page app would be better than a single page and there are many Mobile App Development Companies those who can your develop your app in very short of time.