What is a Single Page Application

Every day brings fresh advancements in the field of web design and development. In the past few years, the experience of using the web has changed in ways that are hard to imagine. More and more people expect websites they visit to load quickly, provide all the information they need on a single page, etc. The digital world underwent significant shifts to enable the provision of such extraordinary and hitherto unseen capabilities. Single Page Application development is a revolutionary innovation in web design and development that has made these possible.

Do you know how Twitter, Google Maps, Facebook, and Gmail all connected? The answer is simple: they all use Single Page Applications. The question is why so many industry Giants have abandoned the tried and true multi-page website model. Maybe because SPAs are going to be the next big thing in web application development.

In today’s fast-paced, dynamic, and competitive digital environment, the most successful organisations are proof that customer-centricity is the only sustainable growth strategy. Users’ attention spans are getting shorter and shorter; therefore, businesses need to find innovative ways to keep their customers engaged. When it comes to providing a pleasant and productive experience for the end user, single-page applications (SPAs) shine, they’re quick, easy to build, and gentle on the server resources.

Between 2021 and 2025, the SPA development market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 6.15%, resulting in a USD 22.08 billion windfall for businesses throughout the industry. The growth rate from 2020 to 2021 is 4.30 percent, which is also remarkable.

In this article, I will discuss What a SPA is and the benefits and disadvantages of using a Single Page Application.

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What is Single Page Application?

A SPA aka Single Page Application is a web app or site that avoids the browser’s usual practice of loading new pages for each user interaction by dynamically updating the currently shown page with data from the server. The end goal is smoother transitions that make the web app feel like a native app.

In a SPA, the required HTML, JavaScript, and CSS code is either retrieved by the browser with a single page load or the proper resources are loaded and added to the website on the fly as needed, typically in reaction to user activities. A single-page interface (SPI) is another name for a SPA.

To elaborate, the server will load the entire page in one go if you choose a single-page website. The server then transmits the data in JSON format (JavaScript Object Notation). In this method, the page is never erased and is always updated. The web application method remains the same, but the components change.

How Single Page Web Apps Enhance User Experience?

A faster load time is achieved as there is only one page reload rather than multiple. Furthermore, Google studies have shown that a website that loads rapidly, under 0.2 seconds, positively affects business and sales. With the help of a single-page application, this loading speed is possible.

Users of SPAs benefit from the sites’ intuitive navigation, fresh designs, and compatibility with various mobile display sizes.

How do Single Page Applications work?

When a web browser requests a web page, the server receives a response from the SPA in the form of an HTML file that includes placeholder elements. The elements and the HTML file do not have any data or other content. In addition, the SPA sends back some files that include JavaScript and CSS codes.

When the browser runs the JavaScript files, a request for content is sent to the server. This content is sent to the web browser’s HTML code. The heart of single-page applications beats within these JavaScript files. They eliminate the requirement for refreshing or reloading the web pages by dynamically updating the DOM within the web browser.

For a clearer understanding of its architecture, let’s look at it more deeply.

In a nutshell, the two technologies that make up a SPA are:

Technologies used on the client end, such as Angular or React and technologies used on the server end, such as node.js

To help these two technologies, Static Site Generators are used in tandem.

Three types of rendering methods are used to render the sites while showing them to users:

Client-Side Rendering

  • The client requests HTML files from the server.
  • The server replies right away with an HTML file that has styles and scripts linked to it.
  • During the time that JavaScript is being executed, the user will see an empty page.
  • The app receives data, creates views, and adds it to the DOM.
  • The application is ready for the user to use.

Server-Side Rendering

  • The client requests HTML files from the server.
  • The server retrieves all data needed.
  • The server will make an HTML file, which will then be sent to the client.
  • The client will rebuild DOM using this HTML file.
  • The user will be rendered the application.

Static Site Generator

  • The client will make a request for an HTML file from the user.
  • The server would retrieve an HTML that had previously been created.
  • Users will have access to this page
  • The client would retrieve data, produce the Document Object Model (DOM), and create views.
  • The application is accessible to clients.

What are the benefits of Single Page Applications

Most of the resources SPA needs, like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, are loaded once and don’t need to be loaded again when used. The only thing that can change is how data is sent, which makes it very responsive. Let’s find out what benefits SPAs offer.

Better speed

If a page doesn’t load completely within three seconds, 90% of users will either go to another site or abandon it altogether. Single-page apps (SPAs) can function considerably faster than their multi-page counterparts because of the reduced amount of data required to render each page.

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No Extra Queries to Server

Because the server does not need to spend time and energy executing multiple renderings, single-page applications (SPAs) have a lesser impact on your servers overall. This means that you can save money by employing fewer servers to handle the same amount of traffic.

User-Friendly Navigation

SPAs provide seamless, user-friendly site navigation without unpleasant delays and page reloads.

It can be accessed even if the user is offline.

A Single Page App simply has to make a request to the server once to update all of the data on the page. This data will be used to keep it running even if you aren’t connected to the internet. When the user’s connection is restored to the server, local data can be brought up to date.

Building Fully-Fledged Apps Is a Breeze

A SPA allows developers to implement cutting-edge functionality more easily than conventional web apps. For instance, a content editing web app with built-in real-time analysis can be developed quickly and easily with the help of SPA development.

Easy to debug

Since most Single Page Applications are constructed with widely used frameworks like React, Angular, Vue, etc., they are simple to debug with Google Chrome. Page elements, data, and network operations can be easily tracked and analysed.

Moreover, SPAs have their developer tools for Chrome, making debugging much simpler. Instead of reading through thousands of lines of code, developers can check the JS code rendering from the browser to debug SPAs. 

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Mobile Compatibility

The backend code of a web app can be easily reused when creating a mobile app with a single-page application. Building mobile apps is a breeze with single-page application frameworks.

Cross-platform adaptability

Single-Page Applications (SPAs) automatically adjust to any browser and appear native on any device and screen size. There is still no need for further enhancements. Only a single code base is required for maximum portability across all platforms and browsers. The development cost of native software for each mobile platform is high, but a single-page app may be made for significantly less money.

Disadvantages of Single Page Applications

Not SEO Friendly

An extensive website page count is necessary and used by search engines. Since single-page applications (SPAs) only load one page, there is no opportunity to optimise it with different URLs, headings, or keywords.

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Security Issues

SPAs are more susceptible to cross-site scripting attacks (XSS) risks.

XSS allows attackers to inject client-side scripts into a web application, which allows the application to be compromised. In addition, there is a lack of stringent control over access at the operational level. In the absence of appropriate protections taken by the developers, it may make private data and functions accessible to unauthorised users.

Time required for the first load

The entire site takes some time to load, despite SPAs’ widespread acclaim for their impressive speed and responsiveness. Some people might become furious at it and never use the app again.

No Browser History

Single-Page Applications don’t keep track of your browsing history. There is no useful information to be found in the browser’s history except the SPA’s link to the complete website. There’s also no double-backing around the SPA. Pressing the back button will take you to the previous page you were seeing, not the previous state. The HTML5 History API, however, can be used to overcome this shortcoming.

JavaScript dependency

JavaScript is a must-have for a SPA. Your single-page application cannot function without JavaScript. A Single-Page Application (SPA) will not function if JavaScript is not enabled.

When should you use SPAs?

As you saw in the last section, SPAs have a lot of pros but also some cons. So, it wouldn’t be smart to say that it’s all good or all bad. Creating an application depends on what you want to do and what you need.

  • SPAs can be used by people who want to build a website with a dynamic platform and fewer data.
  • SPAs are another option for users who want to build a mobile app for their website. The backend application programming interface (API) can be used for both the website and the mobile app.
  • SPAs are a good way to build social networks like Facebook, SaaS platforms, and closed communities because they don’t need as much SEO.
  • SPAs should also be used by users who want to give their customers a smooth experience. Consumers can also get live updates for data streaming and charts showing what is happening.

3 pillars of Single Page Applicaiton Development?

1. Team

Your development team must be proficient in JavaScript. Building a robust application requires a high level of JS expertise.

To have a successful team, you must have the following:

  • UI/UX designers to build a remarkable website
  • Front-end developers specialising in JavaScript, producing only the finest code
  • Backend engineers to make sure that the app’s interface and server work together smoothly.
  • Professionals in Quality Assurance to perform exhaustive testing of an application.
  • A project manager must monitor all aspects of the project.

2. Tools and Technology

The following are the requirements for developing a single-page application:

JavaScript and its frameworks

Your development team may employ pure JS, combine it with React JS development, or experiment with additional JS frameworks like Angular.js or Vue. Each page application framework has its own characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages.

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AJAX

AJAX stands for asynchronous JavaScript and XML, a prerequisite for launching a SPA. It is responsible for an “unnoticeable” reload and facilitates client-server data transmission.

Backend technologies

Node.js is an excellent choice for SPA backend development, although PHP and its frameworks are as effective. For instance, combine Vue.js on the front end with the Laravel PHP framework on the backend to create a simple, straightforward, API-driven single-page application.

Database

MySQL or MongoDB may be the optimal solution.

3. Time

Remember that your requirements will entirely determine the time it takes to create a SPA. The final product is affected by many elements, including the features’ complexity, the team’s size, and the amount of time spent on research and making decisions.

Creating a single-page application can take two months to more than a year.

The maintenance phase follows a successful rollout. You may still need a strong engineering staff on your side to fix any potential issue in a matter of minutes, update content, and extend the app with new features.

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Cost Associated with Development of Single Page Application

The cost of building a single-page application (SPA) can vary greatly depending on several factors.

Factors Affecting Cost

  • Complexity: A simple SPA with basic features will cost significantly less than a complex app with extensive functionalities, animations, and integrations.
  • Development Team: The experience level and location of your development team will impact the cost. Hiring freelance developers from countries with lower rates might be cheaper than agencies in high-cost regions.
  • Features: The number and complexity of features directly affect development time and cost. Features like user authentication, real-time data updates, and offline functionality require more effort to build.
  • Design: A custom and complex user interface (UI) design will add to the development cost compared to using pre-built templates.
  • Development Approach: Using pre-built frameworks like React or Angular can streamline development and potentially reduce costs compared to building everything from scratch.

Cost Estimates

  • Simple SPA: $1,000 – $5,000 (This could be a basic landing page with minimal interactivity.)
  • Medium Complexity SPA: $5,000 – $25,000 (This might include features like user login, product browsing, and basic data management.)
  • Complex SPA: $25,000+ (This could involve intricate features, animations, and integrations with external services.)

Examples of Single Page Application

Gmail

The free email service from Google fits on one single page. You never leave the first page when you look through your inbox or drafts, write a new letter, read a recent email, or chat with someone in Hangouts. You never have to wait for the page to reload while the app runs.

Facebook

Facebook is a partly single-page app. You can keep scrolling through the news feed forever, and it will always request the next few posts from the server without reloading the page. You can chat, see who is online, and look at recent notifications from the same page. The newsfeed on Facebook provides a user experience that is easy to navigate.

Netflix

The popular media streaming service uses the React framework to provide consumers instant access to their favourite TV shows and movies.

Considering the sheer volume of data being streamed and the sheer number of Netflix subscribers, it’s safe to assume that Netflix makes full use of the SPA model.

Twitter

It was originally developed using Ruby on Rails but eventually switched to a different framework due to performance and scalability concerns. Twitter is now a highly efficient website since it uses ReactJS, and React native was utilised to create Twitter’s mobile app.

Trello

Many successful businesses rely on Trello, a web-based project management application. All of your list-making, project-managing, and team-productivity needs may be met with this single-page application (SPA) developed using BackboneJS.

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Conclusion

Single-page application development is essential for businesses of all stripes in light of the rising priority placed on delivering an improved user experience. After reviewing single-page app development benefits, SPAs are a fantastic solution for increased user experience. We also learned that the price tag for developing a single-page app is noticeably smaller.

Indicating the next stage in the development of app experiences, single-page applications are becoming increasingly common. They perform more quickly, are easier to use, and can incorporate complex features like customization. This is why single-page applications like Gmail, Netflix, and Facebook’s news feed are so successful serving a large number of users at once. By adopting this tech, corporations can profit more from their digital holdings and expand their market share.

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