At first glance, single-page apps might not seem like anything your users might find useful. Only a single page? Not even the simplest product or service information will fit on it! But what might surprise you is that you have already used SPA’s plenty of times – for example, while browsing your Facebook feed or checking your emails. The initial page load might take a moment, but once it’s ready, you can do anything you might need on the same page – no need to wait for another page to load!

Because of how fast, smooth and convenient those applications can be, they are perfect for the modern age where users want to get the information they need with minimum effort. 

What exactly Single Page Applications are though, and what is the “magic” behind them? You’ll learn everything you need to know in this article. 

What is a Single Page Application?

Single-page applications (SPA) are web apps or websites that dynamically refresh and update specific elements on the page instead of loading the whole page at once. The website or app only has one HTML page – hence the name “single page app.” 

Whenever the users interact with the page, the application uses Javascript to update the necessary elements on the website. That way, visitors can browse the website without having to open multiple web pages or wait for them to load – and that significantly boosts their user experience and thus, satisfaction with the product (and brand).

What made many companies vary of using SPAs was that they weren’t exactly seen as search engines friendly as the SEO crawlers had a bit of trouble recognizing dynamic content. That also made search engine optimization tasks a bit trickier. Now though, SEO crawlers can recognize and label dynamic content as well – though you will need to follow some rules to make it work smoothly.    

How do those applications work? 

Single Page Applications use a technology called AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) through which they download and render small bits of data from the web server as needed. Since the application only loads the elements required at the moment, the amount of data it has to render is drastically reduced. 

That way, SPA can give their users a fully responsive and natural browsing experience, while also drastically reducing the time it takes for the page to load and server load.

How are single-page applications different from traditional web pages?

A big reason why SPAs are so popular among users is that they’re faster and easier to use than traditional multipage websites (MPA). Some even say there’s virtually no difference between SPA’s and native desktop or mobile apps!

The difference comes from how SPA’s and MPA’s are built.

In single-page applications, the browser loads a single HTML page and then uses JavaScript to dynamically update the content of that page to match user interaction. That means users can jump between different parts of the website or app and have those elements loaded in seconds (like with AI website builder) – giving a far more natural browsing experience. 

Multi-page applications, on the other hand, need to send a request to the server side every time a user does something on the page, and then the server sends a full version of the website back. That means that the application needs to render the entire website whenever the user interacts with something on the website – and it unfortunately does take some time.  

A great example of how SPA’s work in practice is Google Maps.

The app does take some seconds to load as it needs to gather data about the area you want to check on the map. Once it finishes loading though, you can scroll or zoom and the application will automatically update the map for you. You can even use the application when you are offline – Google maps will simply switch to using the data it downloaded earlier.  

What are the advantages of single page applications?

The number of companies who are now using SPA is far longer though. The super smooth news loading on the Facebook dashboard? That’s a single-page application in action. Netflix, Airbnb, Paypal, and thousands of other brands also use SPA for their applications.

Why is SPA so popular, though? That’s because they have a lot of advantages – here are a few of them.

SPA are much faster

Super short loading time is one of the main reasons why businesses and users like SPA so much. Just imagine how long it would take to load Google Maps with the traditional server-side rendering as in regular websites! Far too long to make the app useful.

Single Page Applications can perform much better because they refresh just the necessary parts of the page rather than the whole page. Of course, the first page load might feel somewhat slow – but once everything is loaded, there’s virtually no delay between clicking on a button or zooming and the page updating the content. 

Lower server load

Traditional websites request a lot of information from servers, often reloading entire pages just to add minor changes to it. SPAs, on the other hand, only ask the server for the specific data they need. This reduces the amount of work the server has to do, and so the load on the server is also much lower – meaning the apps can work smoothly even during high-traffic periods.

Works with a slow internet connection

One more benefit coming from SPA loading only the data that is needed at the moment rather than the entire website – it uses much less internet data. While virtually everyone now has mobile internet access in their phones, the internet speed is often quite low or unstable, especially in less populated areas. Since single page apps need to download and render far less data, they can load much faster – and then users don’t need to rely on the connection speed as much.   

Fast development

For developers, designing a SPA is also much easier and faster than building a regular website. Since the front and back ends can be separated, development teams can work in parallel, speeding up the development process. They won’t affect each other work either, so developers can experiment, build, and test the page elements without having to worry about affecting other aspects of the app. 

Smooth user experience

With SPA, users don’t have to wait until the whole website loads or move from one page to another. Instead, the website or app will update the content for them as they are scrolling or interacting with the elements on the website, right away. That feature makes SPA’s especially useful for mobile devices, as there’s a lower risk that users might get frustrated with how slow the website is loading or how many pages they need to open before finding the information they need.  This might encourage them to spend more time on the website or app or use it regularly.  

Easy to convert to mobile

And while we are talking about mobiles – you might want to consider building a SPA if you plan to create a mobile website next, as SPA can be quickly turned into mobile websites. Developers can just take the existing SPA backend and then adapt it into any platform they might need, rather than design everything from scratch. 

Offline functionality

The last advantage of SPAs is that they can work offline. Since the SPA stores all the necessary local data on their server, users can use the application even when their internet connection is unstable or they are offline. When the internet connection is back, then the app will then sync any changes made while offline. 

When a Single Page Application is a good choice? 

As you can see, SPA’s might be a good choice for your next web application if you want to offer an exceptional speed and user experience to your visitors. However, there are a few cases when it might be better to go with a traditional web application as they will work better for your goals.

For example, Single Page Applications work great for:

  • Todo Lists: SPA’s will allow the users to add, edit, and delete tasks in real-time without needing to refresh the page.
  • Social media feeds: Thanks to SPAs, users can infinitely scroll through their feeds and like, comment, or share posts with a single click.
  • Interactive maps: SPA’s can render locations or routes for the users even when on slow or unstable internet connection, making it much more convenient to use “on the go.”
  • E-commerce product catalog: Online stores can use SPAs to enable users to filter, sort, and explore products without reloading pages each time.

Traditional web applications meanwhile might be more useful for larger websites where there are different types of content that have to be separated, like blog websites or news portals.

And whichever option you will pick, you can integrate the website with Xtremepush to design dynamic, fully customized messages and notifications to your users. With the Single Customer Profile, Intelligent Delivery, and a few other features, you can send personalized on site-messages and push notifications to your users exactly when they are using the app. Schedule a meeting for a demo and see for yourself. 🙂    

Conclusion

It shouldn’t be anything surprising that SPAs are so popular with both users and businesses. For users, SPAs are far more convenient to use as instead of loading everything, SPAs only refresh the parts that need to be updated – giving them a lightning-fast and responsive browsing experience.

So, if you want your website or web app to feel more like a mobile or desktop application rather than a regular website, then maybe going with a single-page application would be a good choice?

Click to download our guide to increasing eCommerce conversions and retention.