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Rendering is a critically important process for all websites. Websites, of course, contain data. You can’t develop a website without writing data-based code for it. Rendering is the process of fetching and converting the necessary data into a functional web page. To use a web page, visitors must render it.

There are different types of rendering technologies, however. Two of the most common types include server-side and client-side. Server-side and client-side rendering both involve the conversion of data, but they use different methods to perform this task.

What Is Server-SIde Rendering?

Server-side rendering lives up to its namesake by occurring on your website’s server. It’s the oldest type of rendering technology. In the past, all websites used server-side rendering. Even today, it remains the most common type of rendering technology.

With server-side rendering, your website’s server will process and convert the data into easy-to-read information for visitors’ web browsers. Visitors will send a request when attempting to access a web page. Your website’s server will then respond by fetching all of the page’s data and converting it into a single, complete Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) web page, which it will deliver to visitors’ web browsers.

Most websites now use a database to store their content. They still use HTML files for their web pages, but these files must be populated with data for them to display properly. If your website uses server-side rendering, your site’s server will fetch data from a database. Using this data, it will build a complete HTML web page while subsequently delivering it to visitors.

What Is Client-Side Rendering?

Client-side rendering is a newer type of rendering technology. It involves the use of JavaScript to process and convert data directly on visitors’ web browsers. Your website’s server must still respond to visitors’ requests. Rather than delivering complete HTML web pages, though, client-side rendering means your website’s server will deliver framework HTML web pages along with JavaScript files.

With client-side rendering, visitors’ web browsers will do the heavy lifting. They’ll receive a barebones HTML file and a JavaScript file from your website’s server. The JavaScript file tells them what data they need to download in order to display the web page. As they download the necessary data, visitors’ web browsers will add it to the barebones HTML file so that the web page is properly displayed.

Differences Between Server-Side and Client-Side Rendering

Server-side and client-side rendering are both designed to turn your website’s data into functional web pages. The difference is that server-side rendering occurs on your website’s server, whereas client-side rendering occurs on visitors’ web browsers.

Client-side rendering supports rich interactions. With this rendering technology, you can develop highly interactive web pages that respond to visitors’ commands. Client-side rendering can essentially change the content on a web page in response to a visitor’s command. Rich interactions such as this typically aren’t supported by server-side rendering.

Because they process and convert data differently, the rendering technology your website uses can affect its average load times. Neither server-side nor client-side rendering is universally faster than the other. Rather, the former rendering technology offers faster load times for new visitors, while the latter offers faster load times for returning visitors.

If your website uses server-side rendering, visitors will typically experience faster load times when accessing web pages for the first time and slower load times when returning to web pages that they’ve already visited. Client-side rendering, conversely, promotes faster load times for returning visitors. Visitors will already have some of the web page’s resources from the initial visit, so they won’t have to redownload them.

Server-side rendering is easier to implement than client-side rendering. It’s the default rendering technology for nearly all of the top content management systems (CMS). Whether you’re developing a website with WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, it will likely use server-side rendering.

Implementing client-side rendering requires more work. If you’re not familiar with JavaScript, you may struggle to implement client-side rendering. Most instances of client-side rendering require the use of an external JavaScript library, which you’ll need to connect to your website. You can still use JavaScript if you choose server-side rendering for your website, but you won’t have to use an external JavaScript library.

Another benefit of server-side rendering is search engine optimization (SEO). Server-side-rendered web pages are, in many cases, easier to rank than client-side-rendered web pages. It offers faster average load times for new visitors, which search engines will notice when they crawl and spider your website.

According to Google, server-side rendering offers fast First Paint (FP) and First Contentful Paint (FCP) scores. FP is the time it takes the first pixel on a web page to display, whereas FCP is the time it takes the first piece of content on a web page to display. If your website uses server-side rendering, it will likely achieve fast FP and FCP scores.

Furthermore, server-side rendering eliminates the risk of JavaScript-related crawling problems. Search engines won’t have to process JavaScript if your website uses server-side rendering. Instead, your website’s server will process JavaScript as it fetches the necessary data and converts it into a complete HTML web page.

With its ability to make your website faster for new visitors, server-side rendering is better for SEO than client-side rendering. Speed is a major ranking signal. If your website has fast load times, it will provide a positive and enjoyable experience to visitors, so search engines may give it a boost in the search results. You can develop a fast website with client-side rendering as well, but this alternative rendering technology only offers faster load times for returning visitors and not new visitors.

Web pages must be rendered for visitors to see and use them. You can render your website’s pages with either server-side or client-side technology. With that said, most webmasters prefer the former rendering technology. Server-side rendering is more popular, easier to implement and offers faster load times for new visitors. Client-side rendering, on the other hand, offers fast load times for returning visitors while supporting richer interactions with JavaScript.

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Server Side vs Client Side Rendering

Last Updated in 2022-06-25T13:10:25+00:00 by Lukasz Zelezny