Single-Page Application or Multi-Page Application: Which is the Best for My Business?

singleappsWe are entering a new era of web applications, as we witness how old traditional desktops are being left behind. The number one benefit of web applications? Installing them doesn’t consume your precious time. Moreover, these apps are easier to use, update and maintain. Don’t forget you don’t have to update them from your side!

There’s no doubt that the demand for web-based applications is growing. According to a recent study, 52.4% of the global web traffic came from mobile devices during the third quarter of 2018.

If you have decided to develop a web-based app, you need to consider the two major types of web applications page designs before proceeding to make your ideas reality. These include the Single-Page Applications and the Multi-Page Applications.

Different projects have different requirements. Let’s start by defining each of these page types and analyse their pros and cons.


Defining the Single-Page Application

A Single-Page Application functions within the browser and it doesn’t need any page reloading during running. In fact, we use the single-page web apps on a daily basis. Don’t Google Maps, Gmail, Facebook, and Instagram sound familiar?

One of the facts that makes SPAs very popular is their awesome User Experience. You can even build responsive applications using AJAX and HTML5. Also, with the support of the well-known JavaScript frameworks such as Angular, React, Vue, and Ember.js, the handling of the single-page app on the client’s side becomes easier. With SPA, the user does not have to move to any other page as he/she has access to the entire content in one place.


The Benefits of Using Single-Page Applications

The Ability of Caching
The Single-Page Application is efficient enough for caching the local data. It has to send a single request to the server and stores the entire data upon receiving. This data can also be accessed when the user is offline. If there is limited internet access, the user can synchronize the local data with the server.

The Speed
Single-Page Applications are known for their speed and responsive nature. This means that you do not have to waste your time reloading the page or updating it. The update is only needed for the content.

Moreover, the resources like HTML/CSS/Scripts get uploaded on a lifetime basis. The data is only transmitted from front-end to backend. In fact, according to Google, if a page is taking more than 200 milliseconds to load, the impact on your business will be noticeable.

Single-page Applications are Mobile Friendly
As the number of mobile devices is skyrocketing, your web application’s mobile friendliness is a vital element.

You can develop the app with much ease without code reusability. You just need to adjust the UI layout to the mobile screen. However, multi-page apps require you to rewrite the codes accordingly.

Facility to Debug with Chrome
The front-end JavaScript frameworks like Angular or React allow Single-Page Applications to be easily debugged with Chrome. Why? Because these frameworks have their own debugging tools. You can also keep an eye on the network operations as well as on the investigation of page elements.

Benefit of Linear User Experience
With Single-Page Applications, you can be sure you’re going to access the linear user experience. A linear user experience has a clear beginning and a clear the end. It’s highly interactive as it augments the customer’s involvement. The SPA also provides seamless scrolling and the facility of endless clicks.


The Drawbacks of Single-Page Applications

Lacks in SEO
One of the major disadvantages of the Single-Page Application is that it offers poor SEO. For providing the best SEO services, you would have to separate the pages of the web app with fixed content.

Cost of Development
Some people may have the misconception that SPAs are less expensive to develop than MPAs. However, experts tend to believe that both types of apps cost more or less the same.

Additionally, the developer has to be well versed with the JavaScript frameworks and if you are opting for the hourly cost model, you may have to open your pocket even more.


Problem While Going Back

A user using a Single-Page Application may want to go back and experience problems in doing so. This happens as the browser will take him/her to the previous page and not to the earlier state of the app.

To solve this issue, you can make use of the HTML5 History API that helps developers equip the frameworks.


Concerns Related to Security

The Single-Page Apps are prone to security threats as the JavaScript does not perform the code compilation. This means they can be attacked by the cross-site scripting (XSS) and it becomes easier for hackers to insert malicious client-side data into the applications. Thus, the developers must increase the security factor.


Ideal Conditions for SPA

If you develop dynamic apps with small volume of data, you are creating the ideal conditions for using a SPA. This is also suitable for mobile app development and SaaS and social media platforms.


Defining the Multi-Page Application

Do Flipkart or Amazon ring any bells? Think about them if you want to understand one of the best Multi-Page Applications. MPAs consist of several different pages with text and images.

In addition, they have links to other pages and a huge amount of data. Multi-Page Apps are usually developed on HTML and CSS.


The Pros of Multi-Page Application

Advantage of SEO
We saw that SEO was an important disadvantage for the SPAs. However, it proves to be an asset for the Multi-Page Applications, due to the architecture of search engine crawlers. Being able to easily make changes in the content also improves SEO.

No Page Limitations
When you are opting for the MPA, you get access to unlimited pages where you can post your content and display all your products and services freely. You won’t get this facility in the Single-Page Applications.

Information on Analytics
The Multi-Page Applications also offer useful analytics, which indicate the performance of your web apps. But with SPA you can get info only on the number of visitors and the time spent on the app.


Cons of Multi-Page Applications

Slow Speed and Performance
Multi-Page Applications are required to reload and update several times, and this tends to slow down the speed of the page. When the browser reloads the pages, all resources are downloaded again. However, to solve this problem the developers are using JavaScript and jQuery.

Complex Updates and Maintenance
It’s difficult to maintain and update the pages in MPAs. You have to face the security challenges as well, because your web app contains many sensitive data.

Development is Time Consuming
It takes longer to develop Multi-Page Applications than Single-Page Applications. The server-side needs to be coded from the beginning most of the times.

Due to the close association between the front-end and the backend, you may encounter numerous issue as well. Building the framework for both client and server makes it more time consuming.


When is a MPA a Good Choice?

A Multi-Page Application is highly recommended if you have to showcase a vast variety of products and services and store large amount of data, such as when building an e-commerce app platform. The ideal target audiences would be big enterprises and industries with multiple product menus.



There is a million dollar question you need to answer in the end: What to choose between a Single-Page Application and a Multi-Page Application? Ultimately, your decision depends on your business requirements and target customers.

About the Author:  Mehul Rajput is the CEO and co-founder of Mindinventory, one of the leading app development companies that provides web and mobile app solutions for startups and enterprise level companies. Mehul conducts the operations related to business and product delivery as his strategic planning defines the road-map for the future. He’s an avid blogger and writes about mobile technologies, startups and business.

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