In today’s world, businesses have to be consistently on edge to keep up with the increasing demands of their customers. While on one side, they face pressure from their competitors, who keep pushing the limits, there are customers on the other side who are becoming smarter by the day.
At a time when everything appears to be on the rise, what’s invariably decreasing is our attention span. Today, an average internet user faces distractions to the extent that they end up focusing on nothing at all. If you didn’t know, it takes close to 50 milliseconds for users to conclude whether they find your website useful or not and if they would stay or leave.
Single Page Applications or SPAs were created for the very same reason, to further avoid distractions and for businesses to retain users on their website.
50 milliseconds, that’s it.
So, as companies, we are all racing to get that 50 milliseconds out of our customers’ life and make it valuable. In this race, we face competition from other businesses, advertisements, notifications from friends, live videos from social media influencers, and more.
That’s where SPAs come into action.
But what are they? Let’s understand.
What are Single Page Applications And How Did They Become Popular?
In simple words, a single page application is a web app that has just one HTML page. This single page can be updated dynamically, and there are no reloads involved when a user is interacting on it.
If you’ve used Facebook during its initial stages, you would remember that it followed a multiple-page approach. When you clicked on notifications, you would be taken to another page. The same happened when you clicked on settings, profiles, or other options.
But take Facebook today, it is neat with just one page. Clicking on notifications opens a small drop-down window that shows all your notifications. You are not redirected away from the page you use, but as you scroll down, new content gets updated automatically to keep your interest sustained.
Some of the other examples of single-page applications include Google Docs, Trello, Gmail, and more.
Why They Are Popular
One of the significant reasons why single-page applications became popular is because of the evolution in the way we consume content today. From desktops and confinement to a fixed space and wired connections, we are now able to move freely with our portable devices.
With the internet becoming an inevitable entity, almost all of us use our smartphones, laptops, or tablets to access the content. Sometimes, we even use our televisions to connect to the internet.
With this change arrived the necessity to optimize the user experience. With instant gratification becoming a norm, businesses had to find a new way to provide information to users faster, secure, and more straightforward.
This gave birth to the concept of single-page applications, which pulled this challenge off quite seamlessly. Single page apps of today are neat, optimized for clean user experience, symmetric, and designed for user retention.
Why Build A Single Page Application In 2020?
There are plenty of reasons to develop a single page application in 2020. Single-page applications are relevant today and would be as long as customer experience remains a priority in the market.
They offer minimal interruptions to customers and prove to be beneficial for websites like eCommerce websites, where customer retention is critical. Not just for the end-user, single-page applications favor developers in the fact that they are easier to develop and deploy.
To further understand why you should build a single page application in 2020, here are some solid reasons.
First things first, single-page applications offer one of the fastest page load times. They load quicker than their multipage counterparts and meet the instant gratification demand of users.
The reason is simple. Unlike multiple page applications, where many pages have to be loaded at once (every time), SPAs have to load only one page at the first request.
One primary reason why this is crucial from a business perspective is that this is directly associated with your bounce rate. If users feel it’s taking too much time to load, they wouldn’t care to close and open your competitor’s app. They seek information and not brands.
#2. User Retention
SPAs help in retaining customers. Because they have just one page and are devoid of distractions, they look clean. When users keep scrolling down, they are exposed to new content every single time. It’s like the slot machine.
One of the reasons apps like 9GAG, Twitter, Instagram, and others are so captivating is because we get new content with every changing second. This not only keeps users scrolling for more but brings them back to use the app often.
#3. Offline Support
Single page apps send a request to a server and store all the information they receive. It caches content to a device’s local storage. This allows them to retrieve information at any given point of time, even when there’s poor network connectivity or no connectivity at all.
With single-page applications, it appears as they work offline, but it’s their functionalities under the hood that keep users hooked to their apps even when there’s no connectivity. So, as a brand, your engagement levels are consistent.
Additionally, they also use less bandwidth than their traditional application counterparts.
#4. Chrome Debugging
One of the advantages favoring developers is that SPAs can be debugged easily with Chrome. Because they are built on frameworks like Angular or React, they have their integrated Chrome developer tools for debugging.
Apart from this, they also allow you to monitor and track network operations and inspect page elements and their data.
#5. Feature-Rich Apps
Developers can also incorporate advanced features into their single-page apps seamlessly. For instance, it is easier to develop a content editing tool that can provide real-time insights and collaborative features as single-page apps because with traditional web apps, and a complete page reload is required for the analysis.
Single page apps offer immense adaptability. If you’re developing a mobile app, you can simply reuse the backend code of your web app. Now, this would be difficult to do with multipage apps.
One of the other aspects is SPAs appear and function like native apps and not like a website. This means the need to adopt a single-page website’s functionality or design for portable devices can be eliminated.
Drawbacks Of SPAs
While SPAs are revolutionary and offer optimum user experience, they are not without their shortcomings. Like we usually say, no technology or framework is perfect and that it all boils down to your project’s distinct requirements.
As far as SPAs are concerned, these are their cons.
They Are Not SEO-Friendly
One of the critical SEO metrics is the number of pages on a website. Because SPAs have only one page, they arrive as a pitfall concerning search engine rankings. In this case, multipage apps have an edge as they have a higher chance of getting ranked on search results than SPAs.
Maximum Use Of Browser Resources
Most of the tasks in a single page app are executed and performed by a browser. This means SPAs leverage the full potential of their browsers, which gives rise to a significant disadvantage that users need to have the latest versions of browsers to use SPAs. If not, the app wouldn’t perform the way it is supposed to, compromising the entire purpose of why it was built for in the first place.
They Are Not Scalable
Multipage apps can be easily scaled. All you have to do is add another page. If you intend to have a separate page for each of your cofounder (for instance), you could do this easily. But in a SPA, this is not possible.
You have restrictions in terms of the amount of information you add to a SPA. And more importantly, you need to consider the design hierarchy in terms of which information gets more value. Choose to add more content, and you end up slowing down the app.
Businesses Using SPAs
All of us use Gmail, and one of the reasons it is pleasant to use is because it’s not cluttered. Gmail uses the SPA framework to offer all of its features and modules on one page. We could compose new messages, explore inbox and other labels, access spam, and other folders on a single screen. When was the last time you reloaded your Gmail window?
If you like to keep things organized, you would have used Trello. No matter if it’s for business purposes or to organize a party, Trello is helpful. From accessing different boards to creating new tasks, assigning them, and tracking them to doing more, Trello is one neat SPA.
One of the most effective uses of SPAs, Netflix, involves just one page to list all of its content. Conveniently categorized and with features like real-time preview and more, Netflix pulls off implementing a brilliant SPA like no other.
By now, we’re sure you understand what single-page applications are and their pros and cons. The essence is that years may change but what wouldn’t is customer experience. While new technologies would come and go, the entire purpose of adopting and deploying them would be to optimize user experience in ways we could consistently.
That’s why single page applications would not just be relevant in 2020 but in the years to come. Your business needs it, and more importantly, your users need it. Good luck!