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Single-Page and Multi-Page Apps: Features, Pros, and Cons

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Web apps have a bunch of advantages if compared to old-school desktop applications. They require neither installation no regular upgrading and they can be used on any device. As of now, a web app is one of the most demanded products in the IT-market.

Web apps do not come equal. In terms of their design, web apps are distinguished into single-page (SPA) and multi-page (MPA) ones. Single-page apps provide fast and easy navigation; they load quickly and provide a great user experience. At the same time, for large applications packed with features, a multi-page format is often preferable. In this guide, we are going to review both options and figure out their advantages and disadvantages.

Single-Page Web Apps Overview

As the name implies, a single-page app is the one that stores all the content on one page. As soon as you open the app, this content is loaded. In other words, the whole page is loaded only once. After that, you can visit any sections of the site without page reloading.

Probably, the most attractive quality of the SPA is speed, which creates a great user experience. This becomes possible, thanks to the use of JS frameworks for programming. It works as follows: instead of reloading all the elements on the page, it just updates existing content.

Well-known examples of SPA are Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. To be more exact, the latter two are hybrid options, combining the features of SPA and MPA. For example, Facebook normally acts as a single-page app, except for some pages, for example, photos.

Multi-Page Web Apps Overview

Multi-page web apps are classic web sites consisting of many individual pages. There are plenty of them on the web. Some bright examples are eBay, Amazon, and other major online marketplaces. Every time when you open a new page, it is reloaded. This slows down browsing the site significantly. However, for large web apps with various sections (a blog, a forum, an online store, etc.), MPA is the only possible solution.

Pros and Cons of SPA

One-pagers are a good option for those companies and individuals that offer only one product or sell one service. They have pretty many benefits if compared to old-school web-applications.

  • Speed and efficiency. People hate slowly loading pages. If a page is loaded longer than 3 seconds, 20% of people simply leave or close it. Single-page apps respond to users’ actions instantly, as they don’t reload content after every click.
  • Mobile compatibility. If a web app is mobile-friendly (most one-pagers are), this is a large plus. A single-page web app is easy to convert to a mobile app.
  • Unique design. With a single-page web app, it is easy to stand out. They are still relatively new, and making a unique eye-catching design for one page is easier.
  • Higher conversion rates. Simple and user-friendly UI together with fast page loading provide better conversion, which, in turn, is beneficial for lead generation and monetization.
  • Great for storytelling. A single scrollable page with all the content stored in one place is perfect for storytelling, which is a very popular format of providing information about the company.

At the same time, single-pagers have some drawbacks, which can make you abandon this option.

  • Problems with SEO. For an effective search engine optimization, it is better to place content on several independently loaded pages. However, a skillful specialist will cope with this problem.
  • Higher web app development costs. Contrary to a popular belief, SPA often turns out to be more expensive than MPA.
  • More resource-demanding. SPA loads all the content immediately. This is why the overall time of initial loading can be longer, and the loading requires more computing power.
  • Dependence of JavaScript. SPA is built with the use of JS. For their correct operation, JavaScript must be turned on in a browser.
  • Security issues. JavaScript-based apps tend to be more vulnerable to cyber threats.
  • Need for special browser-based debugging tools for testing, as existing IDEs don’t support SPA.

Pros and Cons of MPA

While multi-page apps can seem a sort of outdated, they have some important benefits, which make them an indispensable solution for some projects.

  • Unlimited scalability. You may add as many pages as you need and load as much content as you want. An MPA is a great choice for large projects and web portals.
  • Better for SEO. Search engine algorithms are better adapted for classic multi-page web apps. Different pages can be ranked by Google for different keywords and meta tags.

However, as we have already mentioned, multi-page apps have some drawbacks.

  • Less speedy and less efficient. Every time you open a new page, the site reloads all the content, including the headers and the footer that usually stay unchanged. This reduces speed drastically.
  • More difficult to maintain and protect. With an MPA, you need to ensure the security of every single page.
Pros-and-cons

SPA vs MPA: What Should I Choose?

When choosing between SPA and MPA, you should decide what type of content and in what form you want to provide. As a general rule of thumb, a single-page app is an option in the following cases.

  • You sell one product or one service, especially to a narrow target group.
  • You use a storytelling format.
  • You want to convert a web app to a mobile app.
  • You rely on such promotion tools as targeted ads and links from social media, rather than SEO.
  • You need a temporary solution that can grow into a large project later.

A multi-page web app, in turn, is the right choice for you if you need a very large platform with a lot of diverse content. For example, it is indispensable for major companies that offer a wide variety of goods and services. Finally, you can opt for an MPA if your app is complicated, technically challenging, and has a lot of features.

If you are not sure what format is best for your app, consult qualified specialists. Developing a web app is a time and money-consuming task, so take it seriously to get the best result.

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