What is the difference between a single-page app and a multi-page app?

Single-page and multi-page apps are two general approaches to web app development. SPAs have gained ground recently, and have received some attention from the mainstream. However, opinions vary widely over their merits and disadvantages, and there is still some degree of confusion over which approach to building applications to adopt. While single-page apps vs. multi-page apps are conceptually similar, distinctions exist between the two types of web apps.

We’ll discuss the key differences between single- and multi-page applications in this blog post.

What is a single-page application?

A single-page application is a JavaScript Web app that relies on client-side rendering instead of loading resources from the server. A SPA loads the markup and data to render them dynamically on a single web page. Single-page applications are therefore generally known to perform well, to be quick to build, and relatively easy to maintain.

Advantages of single-page applications:

  • Great UX/UI in a native browser environment
  • Save bandwidth
  • Easier set-up and debugging with Chrome tools
  • Focus on APIs
  • The efficiency of a caching process

Disadvantages of single-page apps:

  • Performance issues
  • Code complexity

Single-page app examples:

  • Google web services
  • Trello
  • Twitter

What is a multi-page application?

A multi-page application is a traditional web app that consists of some pages unlike a SPA and reloads the entire web page every time a user makes a new request. Most of the applications that you use on the web are multipage. While in the case of a single-page model, you have a single file that you request data from then on, an MPA means that the server must repeatedly render a new HTML page. This creates a demand for a large amount of data to be transferred between a server and a browser.

Advantages of the multiple-page application:

  • Scalability
  • Easier to optimize for search engines
  • Reduced risks

Disadvantages of the multi-page application:

  • Slow performance
  • Less flexibility
  • Less reusability