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.
- 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.
- 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.