Web Applications have taken the world by storm; be it Customer Relationship Management (CRM), email marketing campaigns, social media marketing campaigns, business development, or creating and sharing files, the web apps are everywhere with a motive to revolutionise the outlook of the business world.
There are two approaches of developing a Web Application. While Single Page Applications have created a buzz over the web, Multi-Page Applications are already ruling their domain, with the classic and fine architecture.
Before you begin with turning your idea into reality it is important to ponder upon this insightful analysis:
What are Single Page Applications?
Single Page Applications or SPAs are web applications that interact with the users dynamically; rather than loading the entire pages every time a user requests a specific data element.
SPAs load only that requested element. Thus, saving the loading time and enhancing user experience.
For instance, take Gmail. You can view your inbox, sent emails, drafts and even compose a mail, everything without reloading the page.
Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, are all SPAs. Whatever alteration you make is performed only on the selected chunk of data, while keeping the rest of the elements intact.
Most of the promotional websites and landing pages that you come across comprise of just one page. Companies that deal with a single product or offer services in a single domain, often go for SPAs. SuperCell’s landing page for its Hay Day game is a beautiful example of a Single Page Application.
How does a Single Page Application Work?
While SPAs may appear trendy and cool to some, it comes with its own set of Pros and Cons.
Pros of Single Page Applications:
I. Increase Efficiency
Single Page Apps fetch all the necessary markup required to load the page, only once from the web servers. As the user interacts with the page, only specific data elements are loaded. This lessens the loading time of the web pages and ensures a smooth navigation for the user throughout the web page.
II. Easier Debugging
With all its code on a single page, it becomes easier to debug Single Page Applications. Not only this, most of the SPAs are built on SPA frameworks which come with their own Chrome developer tools like, AngularJS Batarang and React Developer Tools.
III. Works Offline
Single Page Applications can be cached to the local storage, with just one request to the server. This request caches all the data incoming to the application from the server; providing offline support to the user.
IV. Testing becomes easier
Since SPAs separate data and User Interface by clear lines, this helps the developers slick the testing part during the development of the Web App. Data flowing across interfaces can be easily monitored; making future modifications and integrations easier.
V. Speedy development
With clear separation lines between the front-end and back-end part of SPA development, the project can work parallelly, making the development process speedy. Furthermore, pre-defined frameworks and libraries ease out the process.
VI. Reusable code
SPAs allow you to reuse code; you can use the same code you used to develop your web application to develop a native mobile application. Since SPAs are more like application, than a website, you do not need to make much design changes to adapt it to mobile devices.
Cons of Single Page Applications:
I. Affects SERP Ranking
A major criterion for SERP rankings is keywords, and with a single page, you cannot put more than a limited number of keywords. Also, SEO bots index different pages of a website separately. Since Single Page Applications have just one page, their SERP ranking affects adversely.
III. Single URL
Since for any specific part of an SPA, the URL remains same, sharing doesn’t come handy with them. For example, if you want to share a specific part of a Google Doc, it would have the same link as the document.
IV. Navigation isn’t that easy
Navigation doesn’t come that easy with SPAs. The forward and the backward buttons of the browsers do not work for them. If your visitor happened to click on the backward button accidentally, while going through the contents of a Single Page Application, that will take you to the previous page loaded by the browser and not to the previous state of the application.
V. Space Constraints
With just one page to deliver your content, adding more to it can be really difficult; that may make the page too lengthy, increasing the loading time and defying the primary objective of a Single Page Application.
VI. Cross Site Scripting
Cross Site Scripting poses a major security threat while developing a Single Page Application; for, attackers may exploit a vulnerability in the code to download malicious code into the users’ browser.
What are Multiple Page Applications?
Multi-Page Applications or MPAs, are Web Applications that comprise more than one page and need to reload the entire page, even for loading a small icon on the web page. These applications are large and complicated to develop, in comparison to SPAs.
Some common examples of MPA are e-commerce websites, like Amazon
Every time you search for an item, visit your cart, place your order, or follow some of the coolest deals, you are directed to a new page.
Large businesses like, eBay, that offer multiple products and services, and allow their users to interact with them in multiple ways, usually go for Multi-Page Applications.
How does a Multiple-Page Application Work?
In a Multi-Page Application, every time the app requests the server, the server renders a new HTML page, that has to reload the web page all over again, hence increasing the response time of the application.
Multi-Page Application Lifecycle
Multiple Page Applications aren’t that complicated as they may sound, they come with their own facets to the story.
Pros of Multiple Page Applications:
I. Improves SEO Rankings
Since Multi-Page Applications have multiple pages, this provides ample opportunities for the SEO bots to crawl and index each page separately improving the SERP Rankings.
II. Easy Navigations
MPAs infuse the use of backward and forward buttons in the browser. You can visit the previous state of your web application easily. In addition, Multi-Page Applications also come with a sitemap, making navigation easier for the visitors.
III. Additions become easy
Unlike SPAs, where you may need to redesign your app for a minor change in content, MPAs provide you with better scalability options.
IV. Cost Effective
MPAs have been on the market since the beginning of the web era. Multi-Page App development has become a cost-effective approach due to a lot of established technologies and developers working in the same domain.
V. More Secure
Most of the technologies and frameworks available for Multi-Page App development have been tried and tested over time, making MPAs more secure than its newer counterpart.
VI. Initial page load is faster
Unlike SPAs, which require heavy client-side frameworks to be loaded on the client’s machine for better efficiency, MPAs do not require any such frameworks, making its initial page load speed faster than SPAs.
VII. Better Maintainability
Since MPAs have partitioned code, distributed among all the pages, it’s easier to maintain a Multi-Page Application, in opposition to a Single Page Application, for it has all its code on a single page.
Cons of Multiple Page Applications:
I. Increased Loading Time
Since, for every new request that a user makes, a new web page is rendered by the server, this increases the loading time and affects the performance of the application adversely.
II. High Coupling
Due to tight coupling between the front-end and the back-end part of a Multi-Page Application, the development process becomes really tedious.
III. Mobile App Development becomes difficult
Unlike SPA, where the same backend code can be used to develop mobile app development, the same isn’t true for MPAs. You may need to start everything from scratch again.
IV. Rigorous testing
Unlike SPAs, where testing was quite streamlined due to clear separation lines between User Interface and data, MPAs do not have this distinction; hence, making the testing process a rigorous one.
So, How to make a perfect choice?
Both the architectures come with their own sets of pros and cons. While SPA provides you with better speed and reusable code that you can deploy to develop your mobile application, it lacks SEO ranking; MPA, on the other hand, provides you with SEO rankings and better scalability but lacks speed.
Choosing between an SPA and an MPA can be easier if you have your goals and requirements ascertained. For SPAs are good for developing social networking applications, SaaS platforms, usually where SEO Rankings do not play a vital role. Whereas, MPA approach is good, for e-commerce applications, business catalogues, and marketplaces.
Single Page Apps may be gaining popularity in the tech world, but MPAs haven’t lost their charm either. You may take a content-first approach to figure out what type of content your users might be looking forward to and how you can surpass their expectations.
If you are still stuck between the dilemma, get in touch with us and we will help you figure out, the most viable approach for your business.