Challenges of the Single Page Application

May 18, 2015In User Interface Design3 Minutes

The rising popularity of the single page interface has shown it’s alignment with the times through a simplicity approach, but it’s important to understand why this application may or may not work for a specific brand, product or service.

The single page interface (SPI), more popularly known as the Single Page Application (SPA) is a website interface or web application that conforms to a single web page, providing a more seamless, faster and more fluid user experience mainly because the information is never required to reload and is all available at one glance (information at your fingertips, illuminated). While there is a great deal of appeal in providing this UX approach, the content with regard to site architecture must be analyzed to ensure the right design is implemented. While ideal for a brand with a single product or service, the use of an SPA would be less recommended for an ecommerce platform with complex information and product details.

Te resulting experience of a single page interface is that of a more streamlined and easily understandable message. A user instinctively is able to digest the information all in one and if a positive experience, results in faster engagement and conversion.

Behind the Scenes

Speaking to backend logistics – one route is the use of JavaScript which embeds content of multiple pages onto one single page, making only the requested content visible at any given point, never requiring reloading – resulting in a faster, more agile experience. Another approach is AJAX based which delivers only scant amounts of HTML to the browser and only when the user engages it using AJAX calls.

The Good News

  • User Cognition: the user will instinctively understand the content as it’s all available in one glance
  • User Experience: Less effort for the user, more information in less time, for less work.
  • Responsive (RWD) benefits
  • No page change when engaging with different content
  • Speed and page load

The Bad News

  • Linking: no physical pages but the swapping and retrieving content from inside a unique page that has to be built
  • SEO: crawlers will see different version of the content seen by the user
  • Single Pages are usually long causing the user to scroll longer than desired
  • Updates: can be difficult to manage a news feed or blog or if needing to add fresh content on a daily basis

As discussed, the use of an SPA can be a breakthrough approach for an organization with a newly launching sub brand or single product rollout. The clear delineation of information delivered can be a quick way to get a point across and lead to increased engagement and easily shareable content. Ensuring that all aspects of a brands needs are analyzed before embarking on a Single Page Application implementation is key to the success of the initiative.

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