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SSR Web: When to Use and Benefits of Server-Side Rendering

July 7, 2024

Volodymyr Khodonovych

Author

Volodymyr Khodonovych

CEO

Table of contents

What if you’re told you could make your website load faster, rank better in SEO, and improve the user experience? And no complicated technologies needed?

Today we’re talking about the advantages of Server-Side Rendering (SSR).

In this article, we'll explore what server-side rendering is, why use server-side rendering, when to use it, and look through the key improvements it brings to any project. You’ll learn what is server-side rendering in React and scenarios where SSR is the ideal choice. As a cherry on top, we’ll review the best SSR frameworks to choose from.

For those who make it to the last chapter, we'll share a client story and our experience with server rendering. Spoiler: as a result, we helped the client's content team to manage websites more effectively.

Server-Side Rendering (SSR): What is it?

Server-Side Rendering is an approach in web development where the server generates the complete HTML for a web page before sending it to the client browser. If we compare it to sibling technology – Clients-Side Rendering (CSR) – it’s easy to understand the difference.

The first one generates the full HTML page on the server before it’s shown to a user; in other words, before sending it to the client browser. While CSR builds HTML already in the client’s browser and uses JavaScript to build the content dynamically on the client side.

Enhance Your Website with Server-Side Rendering

author
Mykola Breslavskyi

Web Development Expert

Unlock the benefits of server-side rendering for your website's performance, SEO, and user experience. Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to improve your existing application, our team is here to guide you through every step. Contact us for a free consultation and start leveraging the power of SSR today.

How SSR Works Step by Step

  • Request Handling When a user visits a specific web page on the internet (technically saying “requests a page”), the browser sends a request for that page's content to the server.
  • Processing On the server, this request “from the client” is processed. The server runs the necessary tech logic, fetches data, and compiles the full HTML content for the requested page.
  • Response The complete HTML is sent back to the client's browser.
  • Rendering The browser displays the complete web page almost immediately. Only then, JavaScript begins its role in making the page interactive.

What is React Server-Side Rendering?

React stands out as one of the most popular JavaScript libraries for building scalable web applications. Luckily for us, it can also utilize server-side HTML rendering under the hood.

The principle remains the same – the initial HTML of the React components is rendered on the server instead of happening right in the client browser.

These frameworks, such as Next.js and Express.js, are particularly useful for React rendering server-side.

SSR Benefits: Why Use Server-Side Rendering

Now that we grasp the key concept of server-based rendering, let's explore its distinct advantages.

Better Performance

Server-side rendering performance can reduce the time to first meaningful paint (TTFMP), as the server sends fully rendered HTML to the client. This means users see a fully rendered page faster compared to CSR, where the browser needs to download JavaScript and render the page. Also, server rendering reduces the time it takes for a page to become interactive.

SEO-Friendly App

If you’re into SEO strategies to promote your business online – this information is right for you. Search engines often struggle crawling and indexing content that relies purely on JavaScript. By using SSR, the server sends fully rendered HTML, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index the content. At the same time, faster load times and better accessibility can lead to higher search engine rankings, and drive more organic traffic.

Enhanced User Experience and Conversions

Since users can see content almost immediately, it reduces bounce rates and improves engagement. It’s particularly important for users with slower internet connections or less powerful devices.
Also with server-side rendering, Flash of Unstyled Content (FOUC) is minimized, meaning a more polished and professional appearance.

Accessibility Focused

Do not forget to improve the accessibility of your websites. Fully rendered HTML is more accessible to screen readers and other assistive technologies. Make your content available to a wider audience.

Consistent Content Delivery

And last but not least – with SSR, the content delivered to the client is consistent regardless of the client's device capabilities. This ensures a uniform user experience across different devices and browsers.

For example, your application is accessible to users with browsers that have limited or disabled JavaScript support. By delivering pre-rendered HTML, the content is still viewable even if the client cannot execute JavaScript. Crazy, right?

Optimize Your Website with Server-Side Rendering

Ready to boost your website's performance, SEO, and user experience with Server-Side Rendering? Contact us now to learn how our expert services can help you implement SSR effectively and transform your web application.

When to Use Server-Side Rendering

After highlighting the benefits, it would be almost a crime not to mention the use cases for utilizing SSR rendering. If any of these resonate with your needs, don’t be afraid to step into something new and give SSR a chance.

SEO-Centric Online Businesses

If your website relies heavily on search engine traffic and it’s your primary concern, SSR is a must. By providing fully rendered HTML, SSR ensures that search engines can easily crawl and index your content, leading to better search engine rankings. Make it faster to the TOP of Google.

Content-Driven Websites

Have a lot of dynamic content on your website? Run news portals, blogs, and e-commerce sites? Try to benefit from SSR. Pre-rendering the content on the server reduces the load on the client and ensures that users receive the content quickly.

Performance-Critical Applications and Dynamic Content

For applications where performance is critical, such as financial dashboards or real-time data applications or live sports scores, SSR easily delivers fresh data quickly to users.

Legacy Browser Support and Framework Compatibility

If you know that your target audience might use older browsers with limited JavaScript capabilities, SSR comes in handy here. With SSR the content is accessible regardless of the browser’s limitations.

5 Best Server-Side Rendering Frameworks

Next.js

  • Simplifies the setup process and provides out-of-the-box support for SSR.
  • Automatic code splitting: split your big ugly bundle into smart and reusable chunks that will be loaded by demand.
  • Static Site Generation (SSG): Pre-render pages at build time.
  • API Routes: Create API endpoints within your application.
  • File-based Routing: Simplify navigation with a file-based routing.

Nuxt.js

  • Seamless development experience for Vue.js apps.
  • Automatic routing, code splitting, and server-side data fetching.
  • Modular Architecture with modules for authentication, SEO, and more.
  • Integration of custom server middleware to handle requests.
  • Generation of static pages for improved performance and ranking.

Angular Universal

  • Pre-rendering of applications at build time for better performance.
  • Share data between server and client to reduce loading times. Known as Transfer State.
  • Improved SEO with server-rendered pages.

Sapper

  • Lightweight way to implement SSR web with Svelte.
  • Highly Performant: Svelte efficient reactivity system.
  • Simplified deployment with built-in adapters for various platforms.
  • Access to a wide range of plugins and tools within the rich Svelte ecosystem.

Gatsby

Gatsby is a React-based framework. However, it also supports SSR, making it a versatile choice for building fast and SEO-friendly web applications.

  • Well-known for its static site generation capabilities.
  • Data query from various sources using GraphQL.
  • Optimized build times with incremental builds.
  • Rich plugin ecosystem extends functionality with numerous plugins for SEO, analytics, and more.

How Perfsol Used SSR: One of Our Case Studies

The client came to us wanting a website that could attract new leads from search engines. SEO is their key marketing channel, so no wonder their key requirement was to get a fast, easy to update and high-ranking website.

Also, the second key requirement was to allow both developers and content managers to work without stepping on each other's toes. It meant separating the access roles of developer and content manager.

To achieve this, we chose the combination of Next.js and Strapi. Currently, Next.js is the standard for developing SSR websites and is recommended by the React team.

The first step was to create static pages, such as the homepage, contact page, terms and conditions, privacy policy etc. The main content of the pages, along with SEO information, is managed in Strapi, which allows us to update this data quickly.

The second step was to develop dynamic pages, such as project pages, developer pages, and the blog. There are two possible solutions for rendering different types of dynamic content:

a) The first option is to generate everything in one component and show different pages based on the data type;
b) The second option is to create separate routes for each type of content.

The first option makes it easier to implement redirects, which are often needed to improve SEO. However, the second option is much cleaner in terms of writing and maintaining the codebase, so we chose it.

Next.js significantly increases site speed and improves UX with built-in components for optimizing images, fonts, Google Tag Manager, and convenient division of components into server-side (rendered HTML markup sent to the user from the server) and client-side (generated in the browser and allows users to interact with the site).

An interesting feature of the site is that when creating articles, the content manager can not only create text with headings, lists, and images but also insert entire UI components using standardized markup.

Final Words

If you've made it this far, you've covered a lot about when to use server-side rendering, what is server-side rendering in React, why use server-side rendering.

We do hope you've picked up some useful tips on building your app with a server based rendering approach.

Not sure where to start? Get in touch with us and get a free consultation. It all starts with a call.

Volodymyr Khodonovych
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Author

Volodymyr Khodonovych

CEO

I follow a proactive approach in life to solve simple to complex problems systematically. I fully understand the nexus of people, process, technology, and culture to get the best out of everyone at Perfsol to grow the businesses and deliver a societal impact at the national and global levels.

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