SPA vs MPA: Pros, Cons And Gotchas?

Jan 04, 2019

There is no easy answer to the question what kind of application you should build: single-page or multi-page one. Let’s check benefits and drawbacks of both.

If you are thinking about developing a web application for your company, you probably already know that there are two basic approaches to develop such a thing: creating single-page web applications (SPA) and multi-page applications (MPA).

SPA

Single-Page Applications work as part of the browser and don’t require refreshing or loading additional pages during use. Millions of users experience such applications in a daily manner even without noticing it. The most popular examples are GitHub, Gmail, Google Maps and even Facebook.

Single-Page Applications were specifically designed to provide users with an excellent UX, resembling “natural” browser environment without page reloads, allowing to get rid of delays in action performance.

Speaking from the ordinary users’ perspective, the main UX-advantage of SPA is that all content is presented in an accessible and functional form, without any need in jumping from page to page.

Advantages of Single-Page Applications:

  • SPAs are characterized by excellent speed because most of the resources they use (HTML + CSS + Scripts) are loaded only once during the session: after the user performs an action on the page, the only thing that changes is data.
  • Developing such web application is usually faster and more efficient. There’s no need to write separate code for the server-side page rendering.
  • If you already have a SPA, you will be able to create a mobile application with the same backend.
  • SPAs are more efficient in caching data on local storage media.

Disadvantages of Single-Page Applications:

  • For obvious reasons, SEO optimization of Single-Page Applications is complex;
  • Slower loading time (heavy client frameworks must initially be loaded into the browser);
  • SPA requires javascript to be permanently active;
  • Some memory leaks in javascript can lead to poor performance even in powerful machines.

Multiple-Page Applications

Multiple-Page Applications work in a more traditional way. Every significant data change or uploading information back to the server results in rendering a new browser page.

Advantages of Multiple-Page Applications:

  • It is the most suitable option for users who search for a more visually understandable interface and accustomed navigation through the application. MPAs are usually created with multi-level menus and other navigation tools.
  • Significant simplification of SEO: you will be able to optimize each individual page of the app for the keywords you need.

Disadvantages of Multiple-Page Applications:

  • Frontend and backend development are combined very closely.
  • The development process is quite complex and requires the use of frameworks on both the client and server side. MPA timing and development expenses, respectively, might not be a good option for many companies.

SPA or MPA?

Before you decide to develop a web application you must be aware of its purpose. If your business is dealing with a large number of different goods and services, choosing a multipage website would be the best solution for you.

If you focus on maximum functionality in compressed web space, SPA is the right choice.

And if the SPA functionality suits you, but you cannot even imagine fitting all your content on one page, you should consider the option with a hybrid site.

We haven’t mentioned this form of web development in the article yet. The hybrid application aims to take the best of both dimensions, minimizing the negative points.

Technically, the hybrid application is still a single-page one, but it uses URL “boat anchors” as synthetic pages, which expands the browser’s built-in navigation and settings functionality.

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