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Is Single Page Application (SPA) Development Worth it in 2019?

Web DevelopmentjavascriptMobile DevelopmentReactJSAngularJSSingle Page ApplicationHybrid approach

As mentioned in The Comeback of Scrolling & Single Page Websites, Single Page Applications are useful for storytelling. And with storytelling, a company has an opportunity to create a brand persona by uttering their values and beliefs.

 

Now, we would like to highlight the main advantages and disadvantages of Single Page Applications. Why are SPAs popular? In which cases are they valuable to use instead of traditional web apps?

 

The core working process

SPAs work with AJAX and HTML5 to make responsive web apps. They load a single HTML page, which comes from the server that is downloaded by the browser. This interaction between the browser and the server happens through AJAX calls. Afterward, data is returned in a JSON format, so the concept of a single page is dynamically re-written and does not need other pre-rendered pages. This directly improves the speed of a website and provides faster interactions. Developers can choose from various JavaScript frameworks, such as AngularJS or ReactJS, to focus on developing and creating a unique feature for web apps.

 

Single Page Application working process

 

A hybrid approach

An alternative option for Single Page Application is to use a hybrid approach, which provides SPAs with synthetic pages that uses URL anchors. It is a combined solution that includes the functionality of Multi-Page Application (MPA) and convenient navigation of SPA. Simply said, a hybrid approach utilizes the best features of both worlds (MPA and SPA) to reduce the app’s drawbacks. It is a great opportunity to start simple and gradually add more UI interactions.

 

Benefits of Single Page Applications

Fast & smooth – thanks to AJAX, SPAs don’t require extra demand to a server to download pages. Only a small amount of the data is being refreshed. Resources such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript is loaded only once, which makes the application swift through its lifespan. All of the mentioned features decrease a page’s load-time. 

Data & UI separation – communication between SPA and server is supported by JSON REST API, which means that Data and UI are uncomplicated to develop, test and deploy.

Readability & Visuality – SPAs are focused on a visually appealing design. This catches users ́ interest and getting conversions to a website. Engaged customers are returning to your website and more likely to purchase a product/service. Many developers use AngularJS with Visual Studio to develop modern UI. Additionally, Angular Command Line Interface (CLI) helps to automate and perform different challenges during the making process.

Functionality & Ability – simplicity and easy navigation are key features of Single Page Applications. Furthermore, SPAs can be easily transited to mobile apps by reusing the same backend code. The only thing you have to do is, to adjust a UI layout to match the screen of mobile devices. Besides that, there are several mobile development frameworks, for example, Sencha Touch, jQuery Mobile or KendoUI Mobile, which help with difficulties.

 

 

benefits of SPAs

 

Drawbacks of SPAs

SEO – one of the main drawbacks for SPAs have been a poor performance on search engines, such as Google. Static HTML is easy to read for search engines, but instead of dynamic content, SPAs throw empty HTML containers. This issue was caused because of the lack of JavaScript execution on crawlers. Fortunately, it is getting to be fixed and Google is able to read and index SPAs.

Speed of initial load – SPAs have a tendency to load the first page a bit longer. It is caused because a used framework and application code come together before reading the required HTML in the browser. And also, whole site content is loaded just once. Luckily, you can insert open-source analytics integrations into the application and track the loading time. A doubt can appear in managing and securing if everything is being measured precisely.

Security – Cross-site scripting makes SPAs a bit “uncovered” to hacks. Malicious users have easy access, however, JavaScript does not perform code translation. This is the way, how they can bring dangerous scripts to other users.

 

Thinking about using a SPA for your project?

Let’s sum up, why you should go for a single page application, and what makes it valuable for your future project. 

As mentioned above, SPAs offer a huge scale of interactions, for example, animations and smooth effects which create a great user experience. These make an app more attractive, easy-to-use and interesting for visitors. Eventually, consumers are more likely to come back, when they face a great UI. So, if your team is familiar with JavaScript development, don’t waste your time!

 

Furthermore, SPAs are the right choice, if you need a functional app. It does not require reloading the whole page when users make an action. They are responsive and offer real-time feel. Additionally, SPAs fit right when you plan to build dynamic platforms with small amount of data to work with.

 

Do you need to tell your brand/product story? SPAs may be a great opportunity to please your customers, who are hungry for visual content and appealing design.

 

Be aware, SEO can be an issue in this kind of development. So, if your project needs active search engine optimization, SPAs probably does not work ideally here. Note that, single-page applications also need implementation of features, for example displaying and meaningful URLs for reflecting operations. Lastly, SPAs should consider the browser’s back and forward buttons, which provide users an easy browsing process.

 

Now you can reevaluate the benefits and possible disadvantages of single-page applications. Before you decide, consider your goals and desired purpose of the app. 

 

Where do SPAs appear in real life?

There are many examples where companies used SPA development to build their applications. We can tell, some of them you are using as well! Facebook, Twitter and Google products (Maps, Calendar, Mail) were made by a single page application approach. 

 

Single Page Applications and Facebook

 

 

Gmail is a Single Page Application. As you can see a progress bar before loading, which means that it fetches data from the server only once and all the rendering is done on the client-side with calls.

 

Gmail made by SPA development

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