TABLE OF CONTENTS

Server-Side Rendering vs Client-Side Rendering vs Static Site Generator

Server-Side Rendering vs Client-Side Rendering vs Static Site Generator

INTRODUCTION

The rendering approach you choose for your project may strongly influence its performance, user experience, and Google ranks. It depends on the type of the project, how often you change the content, do you want the users to interact with your website, and if you care about the SEO ranks.

So if you’re hesitating between Server-Side Rendering vs Client-Side Rendering vs Static Site Generator, you are in a good place.

In most cases, as an experienced web app development agency, we offer hybrid solutions, so you can benefit from the highest web performance. Hybrid means that the rendering method is selected separately for each part of your application or website. 

Let’s learn more about each approach, its advantages and disadvantages, and use cases. 

Client-Side Rendering

CSR indicates that the apps or websites are rendered on the client side – the browser. It downloads a minimal HTML page from the server and fetches a JavaScript file, executes it, and fills the content into the page. 

In this approach, the initial load can be a little slow, because the browser has to prepare the page for the user. However, on further request, there is no need to reload the whole site – only the element with the changed data is re-rendered, which improves the user experience.

Client Side Rendering

Benefits of Client-Side Rendering

  • High-performance thanks to generating HTML on demand without refreshing the whole website 
  • Lower costs of website hosting than in server-side rendering 

Best use cases for Client-Side Rendering

  • SEO is not the most important for you 
  • Websites serving different content for the users 
  • Apps with user authorization and access to customer accounts

Cons of Client-Side Rendering 

  • Not SEO-friendly 
  • The initial load can be slower 

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What is Server-Side Rendering 

SSR means that HTML is filled with the content from JavaScript and CSS on the server, after the request, so the browser gets a fully generated page. Thanks to that, Google bots can detect, crawl and index the website prior the delivery to the client, which influences SEO efficiency. 

There are obviously weight differences between applications, therefore reaction and rendering times are also different. When the app becomes very heavy (not by the content, but by functionalities), SSR may make your loading times longer.

Server Side Rendering

Benefits of Server-Side Rendering SSR:

  • Faster loading time even for outdated devices and with a slow internet connection
  • Better SEO Ranks thanks to the page indexing prior to the delivery to the client
  • The rendered data is always up-to-date

Best use cases for Server-Side Rendering

  • When you want your app to rank high on Google 
  • When the website has less dynamic content 
  • When the number of users is limited 

Cons of Server-Side Rendering 

  • Slower loading time because the page is reloaded on each request 
  • Can decrease the performance of a big and heavy web applications

What is a Static Site Generator

SSG is a tool that pre-builds the HTML file for each URL with the content and data ahead of time. That means that whenever a user requests the page, gets it with no delays, as the page is generated in the build time and served to him from the nearest CDN. 

Since they’re so easily accessible, search engines like Google can easily index and access them. Since they pay close attention to your website’s load time, the quicker, the better. 

Static Site Generator

Benefits of Static Site Generators 

  • Super-fast websites 
  • Improved User Experience because of fast load 
  • High Google Ranks 

Best use cases for Static Site Generation 

  • Websites that are not changed very often 
  • Websites that serve the same content for each user 
  • Websites that are focused on high Google Ranks 

Cons of Static Site Generator 

  • Need to trigger a rebuild after each modification in the content

Static Site Generator is usually the best way to render the website because it provides the highest performance and usually the highest Google ranks. 

Quick poll

Which rendering method are you using right now?

3 votes

Using different rendering methods within one web app 

Since you now understand what are the differences between those approaches you may be wondering which one is the best for you: do you need fast rendering time, change content regularly or build an app with a customer account? And what if you want to include all of this in one project? What should you do then?

Don’t worry! You don’t have to compromise the quality and performance of your app. You can use different approaches at once. Of course, it requires dividing the app into a few parts, but no worries. As an experienced front-end development company, we’ve been there and done that many times. 

Here’s an example: Recently, we were building a selling platform for a big insurance company in the UK. It was divided into three parts: 

  • A marketing website 
  • An app that allows the customer to choose and buy the right product 
  • A customer app that gives the user access to their personal account 

Which approaches did we choose? 

Marketing website 

As we love React.js, and it was a technological match for the project, we used it across the project. But in this part, SEO and high website performance played a very important role – so client-side rendering (which is the basic rendering method in React) was rejected from the beginning.

The customer wanted to build a fast site and didn’t plan to change the content frequently, so we decided to use Next.JS as the Static Site Generator.

Next.js supports both Server Side Rendering and Static Site Generation, and what’s more, gives developers the ability to make the choice for each route. For example, pagepro.co/about could be static but pagepro.co/shop could be server-rendered, even though they existed on the same site.

But in this case, the content is not changing very often and the page doesn’t provide any dynamic content that users can interact with, so using Next.js as Static Site Generator was more than enough. 

App to choose and buy the right product

This part of the platform didn’t have to rank high on Google but was about to display different content depending on the customer’s preference and allow him to fill out the form.

And since the SEO wasn’t that important, and there were more dynamic elements enabling the users to write their answers, we decided to use plain React here, with the client-side rendering, as it lowers the hosting costs for the customer, and works perfectly in cases like this.

Customer Accounts app 

The Customer Account doesn’t have to rank high on Google, but requires user authorization and shows different content for the users, so a client-side rendering was a no-brainer here.

The whole platform works perfectly and provides the highest possible user experience. 

TOOLBOX CASE STUDY

Front-end Development for Web App MVP for Insurance Industry

READ THE CASE STUDY

Server-Side Rendering vs Client-Side Rendering vs Static Site Generator – Wrap up

Choosing the right rendering approach can improve your SEO ranks, and website performance, and lower hosting costs. The decision is most often based on the project type, i.e. Client-Side Rendering is the most popular for web applications, while Static Site Generation is commonly used for websites that are about to rank high in Google. 

We often recommend hybrid solutions, because we believe that it is the best way to meet all the customer’s requirements. Choosing this approach allows you to achieve all your goals, without compromising SEO with the app performance. 

Want to start a new web development project?

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