SPA vs. MPA: How to Choose What is Better for You?

According to Statista.com, the online applications’ market is developing rapidly and successfully and will continue to do so, at least until 2024. Likewise, if you consider creating your online app, now is the time. Nevertheless, there are many parameters you should consider before starting your upcoming development project.

One of the most significant decisions you are called to make is choosing your app to be built as a single-page or multi-page application. There are enormous platforms that chose SPA, like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

On the flip side, other vast websites follow an MPA approach. For instance, websites like the New York Times simply can’t be developed as single-page apps. So which type of web page development should you choose?

Since this is a tricky question to ask, we have created a guide to answer it for you. By the end of this 4-minute read, you will know everything you should before choosing the best type of page development for you.

We will start by exploring each approach’s pros and cons separately. Finally, we will conclude if your website should choose SPA or MPA.

SPA or Single-Page Applications

As mentioned above, as a web application type, SPA is used by well-known platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This part of the article will explore what SPA is and its advantages and disadvantages as an app development approach. Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into the definition of a single-page application.

What is a SPA web application or website?

In a few words, a SPA web application or website is a web page that uses only one HTML (main) page as a shell for all the app’s pages. For this to be possible, developers use AJAX technology.

To be more precise, this technology allows the user to interact with your website without the need for time-consuming page reloads since the content is downloaded automatically.

What that practically means is that when a user scrolls or navigates to a different part of your app, the app will start updating (like Gmail or Facebook) instead of reloading.

Thus, with the help of AJAX technology, the visitor will automatically see all the CSS, images, and JavaScript of your website. Now that we have explored what SPA means let’s have a look at its advantages and disadvantages.

What are the advantages of SPA?

Numerous online apps and platforms use SPA for good reasons:

  • Speed and Responsiveness: Single-page applications load faster, are updated instantly, and don’t require entire page reloads. That makes them more attractive and helps to a highly improved user experience. Especially nowadays, people are relatively impatient when browsing, which is a tremendous advantage of SPA over MPA.
  • Mobile friendly: SPA websites and platforms are much more user-friendly when it comes to mobile devices. In fact, the main development idea of single-page apps is highly influenced by the extended usage of mobile phones for browsing.
  • Browse Offline: Thanks to caching the local data, SPAs can work offline. Thus, even if users lose their internet connection for a while, they can use and see all the (already loaded) data.
  • Easier to be built: When it comes to the development process, SPAs are more accessible to be produced than MPAs, since they do not need server-side code.

What are the disadvantages of SPA?

Let’s also have a look at the Single-page applications’ disadvantages:

  • SEO capabilities: Although SPAs are now better when it comes to search engine optimization, MPAs are still the best for SEO.
  • Security issues: SPAs are simply more vulnerable than MPAs concerning scripting attacks.

MPA or Multi-Page Applications

Now that we have explored all the pros and cons of SPAs, it’s time to dive deeper into the characteristics of MPAs.

As mentioned above, MPAs are also very well-known and used by enormous sites like New York Times and platforms like Amazon.

So, what are the features of a multi-page application that make it better than a single-page one for specific businesses?

What is an MPA web application or website?

As its name suggests, a multi-page app is a form of application that consists of different web pages. Unlike SPA, if you choose a multi-page document for your web application, the visitor can access the content of your website by reloading different pages.

Thus, with the MPA web application, each page’s data is downloaded after an access request.

This is the traditional way of web app development, where every page the user opens is downloaded after his/her request is sent to the server of the website. As with SPAs, MPAs have some pros and cons.

What are the advantages of MPA?

MPAs are favored and used by giants like eBay and Amazon for specific reasons:

  • SEO capabilities: As mentioned above, MPAs are the best way to go if you focus on SEO.
  • Flexibility: MPAs offer a vast amount of frameworks, and an MPA developer has more options (tutorials, approaches, practices) when it comes to creating a multi-page app.
  • Amount of Content: With MPA, you simply don’t have any restriction concerning the amount of content you want to include in your app.

What are the disadvantages of MPA?

Unfortunately, certain disadvantages occur because of MPA’s flexibility and scalability:

  • Speed: MPAs’ load time is lower because they require page reloads. As mentioned above, this is the most significant advantage of SPA over MPA.
  • Harder to be built: MPAs require more time to be made as they need to be based on a specific (frontend and backend) server-side code.

Now that we have explored the unique characteristics of single-page and multi-page applications let’s dive deeper into which one you should choose for your business.

When should choose SPAs or MPAs?

If you look at the examples we examined earlier in this article, you will notice that platforms like Facebook and Twitter that use SPA have specific characteristics. They are apps that need dynamic solutions with a limited data volume that can be easily and quickly downloaded for their users.

Accordingly, if you want your application to provide a super-fast user experience, single-page applications are simply the best way to go. Thus, single-page app development is better for social networks and closed communities that don’t specifically need content scalability and SEO.

When should choose MPAs over SPAs?

On the other side, Amazon, eBay, or the New York Times website are all big websites with enormous content. For these companies, a multi-page application is simply the only viable choice.

Therefore, if you want to create an e-shop, a marketplace like Amazon, or a content-based website, MPAs are the best choice.

Wrap Up

In this article, we have explored all the differences between single-page and multi-page apps. It becomes evident that there is not a specific answer when it comes to the best choice for your business. It all comes up to your needs and preferences.

Picking the best solution for your business has everything to do with your business’s field of interest. For example, although SPAs are highly suitable for social media networks, MPAs are the best for e-stores and online marketplaces.

JavaScript Developer. I am proficient in building SPA with React.js