The popularity of single-page applications - Pros in 2020 | W3 Lab

The popularity of single-page applications – Pros in 2020

facebook - single page app facebook
Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

Single-page applications present one of the most recent and most popular trends in the world of web development.

You can find them everywhere, in fact, I bet you already visited at least one today.

Some of the most visited and known single-page applications include Facebook, Twitter, as well as Gmail, Google Maps and Google Drive.  

The reasons for their popularity are numerous – good visitor experience, speed, no page refresh, you name it.

Along with progressive web applications, they are taking the web development world by storm.

Because of their increasing popularity, we have decided to bring you this article, so you too can see their appeal.

Aside from the BENEFITS, we’ll also include the DISADVANTAGES of single-page applications, so you can get the whole picture.

Let’s begin.

What is a single-page application?

The Wikipedia definition below describes it perfectly.

A single-page application is defined as ‘a web application or website that interacts with the web browser by dynamically rewriting the current web page with new data from the web server, instead of the default method of the browser loading entire new pages’

In short, a single-page application is made in such a way that there is NO PAGE REFRESH.

All information is situated on one page, and when you click different pages, the page will show them to you without refreshing.   

To create single-page applications, developers use JavaScript.

What characterizes them is the fact they don’t have a separation between front and back end, instead, they are one thing.

It is only one page, which is a single HTML page that loads once we open the website and never refreshes.

Here’s a picture in a Microsoft single-page application article that perfectly describes the way they work: :

how single page applications work
How single page apps work | Source

In a traditional web application, every time you click a new page, the server renders a new HTML page, thus causing a refresh.

If you look at the single-page application example, it shows how a single-page application works via the help of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), which is a set of web development techniques that makes single-page applications possible.


AJAX retrieves the data in the background.

What are the benefits of single-page applications?

Single-page applications have many benefits, which is exactly why they’re so widespread and continue to grow in popularity and use.

We mentioned them at the beginning of the article, but let’s look at them more closely now.

A single-page application is faster than a traditional website

Because single-page applications only have one HTML page and we don’t have to wait for client-server communication, they are faster than traditional websites.

Even if a website was small and didn’t have dozens of pages, single-page applications are still faster because of the way they work.

single page applications - twitter
Single page apps are fast | Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

This is why all the most popular social media platforms use them.

People spend hours and hours on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, therefore the websites need to be as fast as possible.

Because of their speed, they provide for a great user experience, which is the most important thing in the world of business.

Speaking of a good user experience, single page applications are great because they never refresh, thus saving the user a ton of time.

Combined with the speed of loading new information and pages, the fact they don’t need to reload makes them especially appealing.

Single-page applications are easy to make and debug

Since they consist of only one HTML page, single-page applications take less time to build than multi-page applications and traditional websites.

However, this doesn’t mean that just anyone can make a good single-page application – they still need to be polished and work as smoothly as they are supposed to.

GMAIL | Photo by Stephen Phillips – on Unsplash

Another benefit of single-page applications is the fact that they can be made to even WORK OFFLINE and still perform well if the user has a poor network connection because the absence of page reloads lowers the use of bandwidth.

When it comes to debugging, the process is greatly simplified, especially when it comes to debugging single-page applications in Chrome.

But despite all these great benefits, single-page applications aren’t perfect. Let’s see WHY.

Disadvantages of single-page applications

The biggest disadvantage of single-page applications is the way they work with SEO.

Because they don’t have the traditional layout and pages that crawlers index, search engine optimization can be problematic.

When they first appeared, it was nearly impossible to optimize them for SEO and get bots to properly crawl them.

In 2015, Google updated its bot to be able to crawl CSS and JavaScript files, but it often happens that the bot doesn’t index a single-page application properly, so the developers need to help it.

Aside from problems that can arise with SEO, single-page applications can also have the problem of the initial load being slow.

Since the entire application loads in as you click it, it can be a bit slow, even though it’s not a long loading time.

Still, it is something to keep in mind if you’re planning to make a single-page application for your business.

Additionally, compared to multi-page applications, single-page applications are more vulnerable to hacker attacks, so they require a good security system.

Wrapping up

Single-page applications are becoming more and more prevalent, with a huge number of popular websites using them.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all single-page applications, and Google also uses them for their own services, including Gmail and Google Drive.

A single-page application is quick to load and use and doesn’t refresh when you’re clicking on different options and pages thus reducing the time needed for loading and the amount of bandwidth.

Single-page applications are also easier to make and debug compared to traditional websites and multi-page applications.

But they do have their disadvantages – sometimes optimizing them for search engines can be problematic and they need a solid security system.

Additionally, their initial load can be slow, which can turn users away.

Hopefully, this article has helped you learn a bit about single-page applications and their popularity.

Thank you for reading!

Marija Milosavljević
Marija Milosavljević

Graduated as first in her class. Incredibly quiet and shy until the lag in Warframe turns her into a raging death-bunny.

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