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Single-Page Application vs Multi-Page Application: Pros, Cons, and Which is Better?

Single-page App vs. Multi-page App

Lots of web apps tackle a wide variety of tasks, and this market is constantly on the rise. However, if you plan to develop your own web app, you are to know that you have two main ways of implementing such projects: a single-page app (SPA) or a multi-page app (MPA). Each of these options has its own important peculiarities.

Let us delve into the main pros and cons when it comes to a single-page and multi-page app. This info will allow you to compare them with each other, helping you choose the best solution when developing your project.

What’s the Difference Between Single-page Application and Multi-page Application

On demand, a single-page app reloads only the data necessary for the user. In the case of a multi-page app, the entire web page content is refreshed, which is also true about all the pages requested by the user.

See the image below to know how it works:

Single-page App vs Multi-page App Lifecycle

When the user launches some SPA, the server loads the entire page. Later on, responding to the request, only the necessary data is transferred in the form of JSON files.

What Is a Single-page App (SPA)? Key Advantages and Disadvantages

Trying to define an SPA, we come to the following:

A Single-page Application is a type of web application loaded from one page, and all user interaction with this service is carried out, using one screen (page).

When users launch such an app, dynamic rewriting using JavaScript allows avoiding reloads or additional pages loading. Users see all the main content in the browser, and when scrolling or going to other pages, the necessary elements are simply loaded instead of a full app reload.

Examples of single-page applications include Twitter, Gmail, Evernote, Pinterest, and many other web apps that use the technology of a single-page application to provide flexible and scalable user experiences.

How single-page application work

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Pros of a Single-page Application:

  • Performance. All resources are loaded during one session, and then, when interacting with the page, only the necessary data is changed. This approach significantly increases web app performance.
  • Improved user experience. Such apps provide users with a more understandable linear experience. Moreover, the use of AJAX and JavaScript frameworks, as well as the fact that there is only one web page, allows building a more flexible and responsive interface.
  • Data caching. After the first request to the server, all the necessary local data is stored in the cache, and that provides users with the possibility to work in an offline mode (for example, GoogleDocs offline mode).
  • Development speed. All things equal, you will have to develop and test fewer app elements and will be able to reuse part of the code.
  • Ease of debugging. An SPA is most often developed based on popular frameworks (React, Vue.js, AngularJS) that offer their own debugging tools based on Google Chrome, for example, Vue.js devtools.

Besides, we should note they are just as convenient to use on mobile devices as native mobile apps.

Cons of a Single-page Application:

  • Problems with SEO. Any web app runs in JavaScript, and the data is loaded without reloading the page and only at users’ demand. This means there are no separate URLs optimized for search engines, and search engines do not see the content. Exclusively server-side rendering can solve the problem.
  • Downloading time. If the platform is complex, large, and poorly optimized, the users’ browsers will take more time to load the content.
  • JavaScript support is necessary. Without this feature, you cannot fully use the complete functionality of a certain app. If users disable JS in their browser, they will not be able to use the app to its fullest.

What Is a Multi-page Application (MPA)? Key Advantages and Disadvantages

Think of online shops. Amazon and eBay are examples of the classic MPA architecture. Moreover, blogs, forums, directories, online publishing websites, and more are examples of multi-page web applications.

A Multi-page Application is a web application consisting of a large number of pages completely refreshed every time when data changes on them. Any data change or data transfer to the server leads to a new page displayed in the browser.

This is a classic approach to web app development, requiring multilevel navigation and a greater focus on speed and performance.

How Multi-page app work

Pros of a Multi-page Application:

  • SEO optimization is possible. The app has multiple pages, and each of them can be optimized for a specific group of requests to get free organic traffic from Google.
  • Ease of scaling. This architecture type allows creating as many new pages for each product or service as you like and implementing any changes in them.
  • Available ready-made solutions. As a rule, MPA development requires a smaller technology stack, and besides, a wide range of ready-made solutions (CMS) are available.
  • Analytic capabilities. Web analytics tools like Google Analytics can be easily integrated into this type of project and allow tracking each business page’s performance.

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Cons of the Multi-page Application:

  • Possible performance issues. In case of a large number of requests and the necessity to reload a large number of pages, performance and speed will inevitably take a knock. This is especially true for projects with high website traffic, a large number of pages, and multiple functions.
  • Front-end and back-end tight integration. As a rule, these components of a web app are deeply integrated, and that is why it can take longer to develop and test them.
  • Maintenance and updates. It can be a daunting task to provide technical support to websites with a lot of pages. This issue also applies to security matters.

Single-page application vs Multi-page application: What Is Better for Your Project?

MPA or SPA? There is no definite answer which of them is better as everything depends on the web app features you are going to develop and the tasks the app should deal with. Customers should make a choice based on their business needs and technical requirements for a specific project.

If your website has to show a large number of products or services and SEO is an important channel for you to attract customers, a multi-page application is a right choice for you. If you want to provide maximum functionality in limited web space, create a dynamic platform, or flexibly manage large amounts of data, a single-page app is your more suitable option.

Each of both architectures has its own pros and cons. Which one will suit you better? Everything depends on the specific project and specific business requirements. If you need to find the best solution, contact us, and let us dwell on the details.

August 13, 2020

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