Industry Insights

Managing and Optimizing Content for SPAs

Bartosz Staryga

By Bartosz Staryga

April 23, 2020

New trends in web development continue to appear and evolve in line with consumer expectations. Developers are continually searching for ways to improve customer experiences and frequently turn to those trends to do just that.

One of these trends is the single page application (SPA).

With SPAs, all of the information for a page is loaded only once within the browser, removing the need for constant reloading of pages that slow down the user experience. While traditional web development was previously done using a multi-page application approach, more companies are adopting SPAs to help provide more dynamic web experiences for their users. Faster user experiences and app-like performance, even in a web browser, are just a few of the reasons why SPAs are becoming so popular.

But the user experience would not be complete without content. Customers crave valuable content in different formats and on different channels—a complete omnichannel experience.

While SPAs can provide additional speed and app-like experiences through web browsers, marketers have new challenges in the form of creating, managing, and modifying content on single-page applications. To provide the best user experience and relevant content for their users means that organizations need to understand how to properly manage and optimize content for SPAs.

SPA Content Management: Why SPAs are Unlike Normal Websites

Managing content for a multi-page application is much simpler than doing so for a SPA. It’s these difficulties in managing content that has hindered some organizations from ultimately adopting SPAs, even though they would like the benefits that come with it.

Two of the most essential factors in the digital user experience today are web page design and page load times. Roughly 75% of people relate the credibility of a business to its web design as it influences their feelings about the company and where they view themselves in the customer journey. Just as valuable is page load time, as 74% of users will leave a website if it doesn’t load within 5 seconds on a smartphone. With the increased use of mobile devices and other alternatives to desktops for viewing web pages, these are both important factors that need to be considered to create the best digital experience in today’s competitive landscape.

SPAs provide quite a few benefits for both the users that view them and the developers that create them, benefits that help page design and loading times. As mentioned, SPAs provide a faster user experience since the information they need is loaded in the browser all at once. There are also fewer server resources that need to be used since user requested data is returned in JSON format, rather than the entire HTML markup. SPAs also make it easier for developers to launch new applications as the same code that is used for a web page can also be used for mobile apps or progressive web apps that provide the native mobile experience in a web app. Not to mention, SPAs are also far easier for developers to debug than multi-page applications.

While SPAs provide so many benefits for users and developers, they can hinder the content management experience and handicap the marketers that create the content. Optimizing a web page for SEO can be quite tricky with SPAs as search engines can’t crawl and index the pages due to their JavaScript base. Not to mention the difficulties for marketers when it comes to content editing.

SPAs tend to go hand-in-hand with headless content management systems. While these headless CMS platforms are perfect for creating an omnichannel experience and delivering content to multiple frontends, they weren’t designed with marketers in mind. Marketers are used to traditional CMS platforms and the WYSIWYG interfaces. However, a basic headless CMS lacks the templates and drag-and-drop options that legacy CMS platforms have, only acting as a content repository that connects to multiple frontends via APIs.

A basic headless CMS won’t cut it when working with SPAs as it leaves marketers with one arm tied behind their backs. They can’t preview the content to see what the final version looks like for the end-user and become reliant on the IT department to help them get to the finish line. To correctly manage content for single-page applications, they need the right content management system, a hybrid headless one.

How a Hybrid Headless CMS Can Help

Going headless isn’t enough to manage content for SPAs. Businesses need to go with a hybrid headless CMS instead. A hybrid headless CMS provides the best of both worlds when it comes to marketer friendliness and headless CMS flexibility. Developers gain the benefits of working with single-page applications to help build better digital user experiences, and marketers gain control of their content without having to rely on the IT department to handle the heavy lifting for them.

In an omnichannel world, where users expect brands to provide a connected experience, filled with relevant information tailored to their specific needs across several channels, marketers need to provide content that is both timely and adaptable. They need access to content previews and the ability to interchange elements, duplicate content, and more for each channel.

With its Visual SPA Editor, Magnolia goes the extra mile in helping them do just that. Content authoring has been the challenge of the headless CMS platform, but with the visual SPA editor, marketers have more creative control. WYSIWYG editing, copy and paste page components, no-code page layout editing, and content previews are just some of the features that help marketers do their job without having to rely on their more technical counterparts at every turn.

With Magnolia CMS, businesses can take advantage of the hybrid headless platform that allows developers to get the benefits of a single page application and gives marketers the tools to manage the content effectively.

Bartosz Staryga

Bartosz Staryga

Bartosz is an experienced software engineer based in Basel, Switzerland. He is the Frontend Developer at Magnolia. Building things with React & Vanilla JavaScript since 2011

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