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Client-Side Vs. Server-Side Rendering

Learn when you should choose CSR or SSR based on how it will impact your SERP position and your website’s user experience.

Faster webpage loading times play a big part in user experience and SEO, with page load speed a key determining factor for Google’s algorithm.

A front-end web developer must decide the best way to render a website so it delivers a fast experience and dynamic content.

Two popular rendering methods include client-side rendering (CSR) and server-side rendering (SSR).

All websites have different requirements, so understanding the difference between client-side and server-side rendering can help you render your website to match your business goals.

What Is Client-Side Rendering, And How Does It Work?

Client-side rendering is a relatively new approach to rendering websites.

It became popular when JavaScript libraries started integrating it, with Angular and React.js being some of the best examples of libraries used in this type of rendering.

It works by rendering a website’s JavaScript in your browser rather than on the server.

The server responds with a bare-bones HTML document containing the JS files instead of getting all the content from the HTML document.

While the initial upload time is a bit slow, the subsequent page loads will be rapid as they aren’t reliant on a different HTML page per route.

From managing logic to retrieving data from an API, client-rendered sites do everything “independently.” The page is available after the code is executed because every page the user visits and its corresponding URL are created dynamically.

The CSR process is as follows:

  • The user enters the URL they wish to visit in the address bar.
  • A data request is sent to the server at the specified URL.
  • On the client’s first request for the site, the server delivers the static files (CSS and HTML) to the client’s browser.
  • The client browser will download the HTML content first, followed by JavaScript. These HTML files connect the JavaScript, starting the loading process by displaying loading symbols the developer defines to the user. At this stage, the website is still not visible to the user.
  • After the JavaScript is downloaded, content is dynamically generated on the client’s browser.
  • The web content becomes visible as the client navigates and interacts with the website.

What Is Server-Side Rendering, And How Does It Work?

Server-side rendering is the more common technique for displaying information on a screen.

The web browser submits a request for information from the server, fetching user-specific data to populate and sending a fully rendered HTML page to the client. Every time the user visits a new page on the site, the server will repeat the entire process.

Here’s how the SSR process goes step-by-step:

  • The user enters the URL they wish to visit in the address bar.
  • The server serves a ready-to-be-rendered HTML response to the browser.
  • The browser renders the page (now viewable) and downloads JavaScript.
  • The browser executes React, thus making the page interactable.

What Are The Differences Between Client-Side And Server-Side Rendering?

The main difference between these two rendering approaches is in the algorithms of their operation. CSR shows an empty page before loading, while SSR displays a fully-rendered HTML page on the first load.

This gives server-side rendering a speed advantage over client-side rendering, as the browser doesn’t need to process large JavaScript files. Content is often visible within a couple of milliseconds.

Search engines can crawl the site for better SEO, making it easy to index your webpages. This readability in the form of text is precisely the way SSR sites appear in the browser.

However, client-side rendering is a cheaper option for website owners.

It relieves the load on your servers, passing the responsibility of rendering to the client (the bot or user trying to view your page). It also offers rich site interactions by providing fast website interaction after the initial load.

Fewer HTTP requests are made to the server with CSR, unlike in SSR, where each page is rendered from scratch, resulting in a slower transition between pages.

SSR can also buckle under a high server load if the server receives many simultaneous requests from different users.

The drawbacks of CSR are the longer initial loading time. This can impact SEO; crawlers might not wait for the content to load and exit the site.

This two-phased approach raises the possibility of seeing empty content on your page by missing JavaScript content after first crawling and indexing the HTML of a page. Remember that, in most cases, CSR requires an external library.

When To Use Server-Side Rendering

If you want to improve your Google visibility and rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs), server-side rendering is the number one choice.

E-learning websites, online marketplaces, and applications with a straightforward user interface with fewer pages, features, and dynamic data all benefit from this type of rendering.

When To Use Client-Side Rendering

Client-side rendering is usually paired with dynamic web apps like social networks or online messengers. This is because these apps’ information constantly changes and must deal with large and dynamic data to perform fast updates to meet user demand.

The focus here is on a rich site with many users, prioritizing the user experience over SEO.

Which Is Better: Server-Side Or Client-Side Rendering?

If your site’s content doesn’t require much user interaction, then SSR is more effective. It positively influences accessibility, page load times, SEO, and social media support.

On the other hand, CSR is excellent for providing cost-effective rendering for web applications, and it’s easier to build and maintain; it’s better for First Input Delay (FID).

Sometimes, you don’t have to choose between the two as hybrid solutions are available. Both SSR and CSR can be implemented within a single website or webpage.

For example, in an online marketplace, pages with product descriptions can be rendered on the server, as they are static and need to be easily indexed by search engines.

Pages like user accounts don’t need to be ranked in the SERPs, so a CRS approach might be better for UX.

Both CSR and SSR are popular approaches to rendering websites. You and your team need to make this decision at the initial stage of product development.

Think about your project and how your chosen rendering will impact your position in the SERPs and your website’s user experience.

Generally, CSR is better for dynamic websites, while SSR is best suited for static websites.

More Resources:

Featured Image: Playzen Design/Shutterstock

Category SEO Technical SEO
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Dan Taylor Head of Research & Development at

I’m Head of Technical SEO at, a bespoke technical SEO consultancy with offices in the UK and the United ...

Client-Side Vs. Server-Side Rendering

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