The world of web development has changed rapidly.
Over the last fifteen years, web pages have evolved from simple HTML text to multimedia interactive experiences, elevating web development to an art. That’s like a civilization going from stone houses to space exploration in a century.
Server-side rendering (SSR) was created to make them both possible.
Read on to learn about what SSR is, why you should care, and how you can use it for yourself.
What is Server-Side Rendering?
What is Client-Side Rendering, and How is it Different From Server-Side Rendering?
Client-Side Rendering (CSR) is the increasingly popular alternative to SSR.
The difference between the two is similar to ordering a prepared meal kit from a service like Blue Apron or Green Chef, or buying all the ingredients and making the meal yourself.
Advantages of Server-Side Rendering
SSR has even more advantages than the ones above.
It optimizes web pages for social platforms, not just search engines. When someone shares your page on Facebook or Twitter, the post includes a preview of the page.
It comes with a number of performance benefits that improve your website’s UX. SSR pages have much faster load time and a much faster first contentful paint, because the content is available in the browser sooner. That means less time your user has to look at a loading screen.
The performance enhancements that come with SSR also have their own SEO benefits. Google gives preferential search rankings to the sites with the fastest page load speed. Faster load times improve user metrics such as session duration and bounce rate; Google algorithms look at these metrics and give you an extra SEO bost.
Faster web pages. Happy search engines. Happy user.
Server-Side Rendering Disadvantages
If SSR is so much more technically well-optimized and SEO-friendly, why don’t all websites use it?
Turns out, using SSR for your website does come with some significant drawbacks. It’s expensive, difficult to implement and requires a lot of manpower to set up.
SSR pages will have a higher TTFB latency and a slower time-to-interactive. Your user will see the content sooner, but if they click on something, nothing will happen. They’ll get frustrated and leave.
SSR is not a fix-all solution. You need to assess your website’s technical needs and challenges before putting it in place.
There’s a Better Solution Still: Prerendering
SSR has a lot of benefits that compensate for the technical deficiencies and deteriorated user experience of CSR. However, it has its own limitations and may not be the best solution for your website.
Prerendering is a great option that combines improved performance and indexation with ease-of-setup and implementation. It’s cost-effective, scalable and even recommended by Google’s own documentation.
To give users and search engines a fast and well-optimized web experience, sign up for Prerender for free today.