Gone are the days when websites were only static pages displaying content. In today’s world, websites are much more robust and dynamic than ever before. In fact, with the introduction of Progressive Web App (PWA), the websites now look and feel like a mobile application. Also, with the growing importance of technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the need to create quick, responsive web pages is the need of the hour. This makes it very important to decide which web rendering technique to choose when creating your website. We have been introduced to various rendering techniques in the past, and each has had its pros and cons. In this article, we’ll talk about the two most streamlined rendering techniques: Server-side Rendering (SSR) and Client-side Rendering (CSR).
Server-Side Rendering (SSR)
What is SSR?
How does SSR work?
For a better understanding, let us dive deeper into how SSR works:
- The user requests for a web page (via a browser).
- The browser then connects to the server, which already has the pre-rendered HTML and CSS code for the page.
- The HTML and CSS are displayed on the user’s browser, but the page is not yet interactive.
- The user can now view the page and interact with the elements.
- The page is now fully loaded and can respond to the interactions made by the user.
Advantages of server-side rendering (SSR)
Server-side rendering (SSR) has several advantages in web development.
- SSR allows for faster load times, as the server generates the HTML for a web page and sends it to the client side to display on the browser. This results in a smoother user experience and avoids the blank page flicker typical of client-side rendering (CSR).
- SSR provides better SEO performance, as search engines can easily crawl and index the content of the website. This can result in higher search engine rankings and more organic traffic.
- SSR is efficient for loading on slow internet connections and can handle large-scale applications without affecting performance.
- For Example – Walmart.com uses SSR for its pages, with the Electrode framework optimized for SSR performance when transforming the stack to React and Nodejs.
Disadvantages of server-side rendering (SSR)
- While there are some disadvantages to server-side rendering (SSR) Such as increased expenses and higher complexity in development and hosting, the advantages outweigh the drawbacks.
- SSR results in faster load times, better SEO performance, and more efficient loading for slow internet connections.
- SSR provides a smoother user experience, as the server generates the HTML for the web page and sends it to the client side, resulting in a faster display on the browser.
- For Example – Walmart.com, for instance, utilizes the Electrode framework optimized for SSR performance when transforming the stack to React and Nodejs for its pages.
When Server Side Rendering Should Be Used?
As the name suggests, on the server side, your website’s content is generated on the server before being sent to the users.
Hence, the server-side rendering should be used when:
- Less Dynamic Content
If your website has plenty of static pages, it is advisable to use server-side rendering.
2. Simple User Interface
Not all websites are the same. If your website relies on a simple user interface and does not have more pages to load, you can use server-side rendering.
3. Fewer Users
Similarly, if your website doesn’t receive heavy online traffic, it would be advisable to stick to server-side rendering.
4. More Read Preference
Also, if your website has more read preference than write, you should use server-side rendering.
Client-Side Rendring (CSR)
What is CSR?
How does CSR work?
Here’s a breakdown of how CSR rendering works:
- The user requests for a web page (via a browser).
- The page is not visible to the user and only a page with a loading sign can be seen.
- The final request is sent to the server for the final render.
- The user can now see and interact with the page.
Advantages of CSR
- Renders fast – The page renders quickly after the initial page load time.
- Offers quicker navigation of the website – This is possible because placeholders are loaded first.
- Works amazing with PWA (Progressive Web Apps) – Again, this is because the code can be entirely rendered on the browser.
- Is interactive – The rendered page is interactive.
Disadvantages of CSR
- Hampers SEO if not implemented correctly – This can increase your page speed and can be unresponsive for the user.
- Delays crawling and indexing – The search engine bot has to wait for all the page resources to load.
- Relies on external libraries – To achieve the best results, it has to be combined with external libraries and frameworks.
When Client-Side Rendering Should Be Used?
- Dynamic Content
One of the reasons web developers prefer to use client-side rendering vs. server-side rendering is because of the large and dynamic content. If the application on the website is designed to offer a better user experience, heavy client-side rendering is used to ensure and retain the user experience.
2. Complex User Interface
Today’s websites are much more than static pages; therefore, some websites may have complex user interfaces and even multiple pages to provide the necessary user experience for which client-side rendering is used.
3. More Users
Sites that often receive more visitors and users might experience lag as they browse through the site. Using client-side rendering can assure speedy performance and excellent user experience.
4. More Writing Preferences
If your website has more writing preference than reading, you can use the client-side rendering process to make things easier.
SSR or CSR – Which one is the best for me?
Both of these rendering techniques are robust and can enhance user experience if implemented correctly. The SSR and CSR approaches have their pros and cons. It all boils down to which rendering techniques suit the needs of your website. And the expertise you have with frameworks.
Here are some important things to consider when making a decision
Page Load Time
Page load time is an important metric, especially in the current SEO landscape. The faster your page loads, the better it is for users and search engine spiders.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
What is Pre-Rendering?
In layperson’s terms, pre-rendering works like anticipation. When you anticipate you are ready for the next move.
Similarly, when browsing a website, the site anticipates your next move. Hence, some content and files from another page are pre-rendered in the background in anticipation, allowing you a speedy user experience.
For instance, when you open the Google search page and type in a query, Google anticipates that your next move will be to click on the first link in the results page and asks the browser to render that page.
Overall, the main advantage of pre-rendering is that it shows some content for SEO that can attract more users. Hence, pre-rendering is not always helpful and must be used based on the site’s requirements.
What does Google say?
You can read more about it here.
The SSR technique has a slight edge as compared to CSR. SSR is a traditional rendering method and the most reliable one. You can’t go too wrong with this approach.
In comparison, CSR is a new method of rendering brought to the limelight due to some crazy framework integrations in Angular and React JS. It’s great for newly developed web applications. The problem, however, is that, if not implemented correctly, CSR can hamper user experience to a great extent. So, SSR or CSR? We’ll let you decide.
We hope this article helped you understand the basics of SSR and CSR. Let us know in the comments section which approach would you take for rendering your website and why you opted for it.
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