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)
- Faster initial page load time – This provides a good user experience.
- Better SEO – Due to the faster initial load time, search engine bots can crawl and index pages better.
- Optimal for users with a slow internet connection – They can see the rendered HTML while the JS is processing.
- Excellent Social Media Optimization (SMO) – Whenever you copy a page link and send it to others or post it on social media, a nice preview will show up with the page title, description, and image.
Disadvantages of server-side rendering (SSR)
- High server load – The browser keeps sending requests to the server as all page resources are located on the server.
- Time consuming – Rendering big applications on the server can be time-consuming.
- Less interactive – While the page is visible to users, they cannot interact with it.
- Slow TTFB (Time to first byte) – this happens because the server requires time to process the rendered HTML to respond to the first request.
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.
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 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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