Quiz Questions/JS

Explain what a single page app is and how to make one SEO-friendly

Mid
JS

Web developers these days refer to the products they build as web apps, rather than websites. While there is no strict difference between the two terms, web apps tend to be highly interactive and dynamic, allowing the user to perform actions and receive a response to their action. Traditionally, the browser receives HTML from the server and renders it. When the user navigates to another URL, a full-page refresh is required and the server sends fresh new HTML to the new page. This is called server-side rendering.

However, in modern SPAs, client-side rendering is used instead. The browser loads the initial page from the server, along with the scripts (frameworks, libraries, app code) and stylesheets required for the whole app. When the user navigates to other pages, a page refresh is not triggered. The URL of the page is updated via the HTML5 History API. New data required for the new page, usually in JSON format, is retrieved by the browser via AJAX requests to the server. The SPA then dynamically updates the page with the data via JavaScript, which it has already downloaded in the initial page load. This model is similar to how native mobile apps work.

Pros

  • The app feels more responsive and users do not see the flash between page navigations due to full-page refreshes.
  • Fewer HTTP requests are made to the server, as the same assets do not have to be downloaded again for each page load.
  • Clear separation of the concerns between the client and the server; you can easily build new clients for different platforms (e.g. mobile, chatbots, smart watches) without having to modify the server code. You can also modify the technology stack on the client and server independently, as long as the API contract is not broken.

Cons

  • Heavier initial page load due to the loading of framework, app code, and assets required for multiple pages.
  • There's an additional step to be done on your server which is to configure it to route all requests to a single entry point and allow client-side routing to take over from there.
  • SPAs are reliant on JavaScript to render content, but not all search engines execute JavaScript during crawling, and they may see empty content on your page. This inadvertently hurts the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your app. However, most of the time, when you are building apps, SEO is not the most important factor, as not all the content needs to be indexable by search engines. To overcome this, you can either server-side render your app or use services such as Prerender to "render your javascript in a browser, save the static HTML, and return that to the crawlers".

References