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Can Businesses benefit using a Single Page Application?

We live in the day and age where the customer is king, and there are no two ways about it. A dynamic market and rapidly decreasing attention spans are propelling businesses to explore newer ways of providing delightful user experiences to customers. It is in this context that the meteoric rise of single page application is both exciting and insight worthy.

Consider this: Gmail and Facebook, the apps that define your daily dose of the Internet and social media activity, are single page applications. Surprised, aren’t you? Let’s explore what exactly they are and how they bring the much-needed business value.

What constitutes a Single Page Application: The Technicalities?

Simply put, a Single Page Application (SPA) is a web application or website that is organized on a single web page, pursuing the goal of an application-like fluid experience for the end-user. The key aspect of a SPA is that the app or website structure is downloaded at one go when the app or website is initially accessed. SPA precludes the need to download every page one-by-one as users navigate through a website or an app. The approach of building a SPA enables retention of the core user experience between successive pages, making it function like a mobile application within a web browser.

From the technological standpoint, the SPA does not need to run several HTTP requests to retrieve megabytes of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for every page. These are all cached in the user’s browser right at the initial website loading stage. Probably the only thing that is fetched from the backend is raw business data that may be useful in terms of enhancing the user experience. This is usually in the form of JSON, XML or some other lean representation.

So, breaking it down, SPAs are comprised of a single web-page, in that they are a one web page structure, with all the scripts and styles bundled down right at the beginning. That essentially translates to a straightforward deployment method with just one index.html file along with a CSS bundle and a JavaScript bundle.

Features and benefits of SPAs

Speed and responsiveness:
This is an essential aspect while building a website for an organization, that is still in its nascent stages of growth. Since SPAs reload only particular pieces of content, they bring with them the massive advantage of a lighter server payload. This cuts down the considerable backend load that the server otherwise takes in multiple page applications wherein it is built in static HTML and is supported by several technologies such as PHP, Ruby, and Python.

Greater flexibility and adaptability:
In SPA development, one can reuse the same backend code from a web-based app for mobile app development as well. As already mentioned, SPAs offer a fluid experience in that they look and feel more like an app than a static website. SPA’s design or functionality is adaptive to mobile devices as well.

Simplified and Streamlined development:
By precluding the need to write code to render pages on the server, the development
process of SPA is rather simple and seamless. The compulsion of a server’s function is not necessary. This means that the development of a SPA is much easier to start because you can kick-off the development from a file http://file://URI, without utilizing any server.

Offline support and caching:
SPAs can operate even when they are offline as they can cache to any local storage with dispatch. SPA stores the data received during a request to the server. The app can use this data, so there is no need to be online at all times to operate. This is an advantage as compared to an MPA, as you can keep using it even if your device loses connectivity.

How startups are leveraging the capabilities of SPAs

If a startup is pursuing the end goal of increased visibility, greater user engagement and higher productivity for completing tasks or interactively exploring data, the key is to explore the fullest potential of SPAs. They are much faster compared to traditional web applications. SPAs are not cluttered with the need for repeated page reloads after clicking on a link as their execution of logic on the web browser rather than on the server.

Considering that a startup has to build its website with both the technical and business context in mind, it is important to design something that is both sustainable and valuable. SPA’s granular actions are pretty quick fast – say for instance add to the favorites, subscribe to the news, and such features are pretty much done on the fly.

With less server work required, SPAs enable conduciveness to build more complicated UI features such as the ones with animations. Additionally, because the server doesn’t need to spend time and energy doing the full drawing, SPAs lower the impact on your servers overall-meaning you can save money by using fewer servers for the same amount of traffic.

SPAs for Medium or high-level businesses

Development of SPAs for mid-level and high-end businesses is gaining significant momentum of late. Several industries and business domains such as health care, manufacturing, financial services, and public utilities are seeing a rise of single-page applications.

Usage of single page applications in multiple page applications

Even in multiple page applications (MPAs) such as Amazon, there are specific portions that are a single page in structure and form. Each time you search for an item, place your order, or simply visit your cart or follow some of the hot deals, you are directed to a new page, which exists and performs functions as a Single Page Application. This way, the response time for the MPA is reduced significantly. MPAs infuse the use of backward and forward buttons in the browser while SPAs are not equipped with that function. Visiting the previous state of your web application is thus more comfortable with an MPA, thus enabling quicker navigation.

So, what do we conclude?

The demand for deployability of HTML primarily drives the proliferation of SPAs, CSS and JS applications on the desktop and mobile devices through frameworks like Node.js, Chrome Apps and PhoneGap. In effect, these pave the way to increase interactivity and minimum payloads. The only aspect to take care of is the need to build robust and powerful frameworks to drive the core of SPAs.

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