SPA vs PHP Based Websites

Are you currently looking to update your website, but every time to try to research what type of website to develop, so many terms sound like jargon to you? This post will explain the differences, benefits and disadvantages between single-page applications (SPA) and Hypertext Pre-Processors (PHP) in an easy-to-understand way, so you can make the best decisions going forward for your digital marketing strategy.

What is a Single Page Application Website?

SPA is an acronym for a Single Page Application. It downloads the HTML, CSS and JavaScript files all at once when first loading the page. Single Page Applications interact dynamically with the webpage, loading information when you need it (even though it’s already downloaded and good to go). This information could be when you receive a notification, scrolling to the bottom of your feed and more or older content appears, or when you receive a new email and it automatically shows at the top of your inbox.

In an even simpler way of explaining this, it provides an empty shell page with an application on one single page on the inside of that URL. A single page application essentially gives you information as it appears or when an input causes a reaction, instead of reloading the whole page.

Benefits of Single-Page Applications

Single Page Applications can have vast benefits for your website, regarding that it aligns with the goals of your business and digital marketing strategy. Single-Page Applications work the best for websites which focus on making engaging and unique content for each user.

Some of the advantages of using a SPA’s include:

  • There is no reloading of the page once it has one, which creates a more streamlined User Experience (UX). This is because no extra pages need to load (browser and server communicating back and forth), which can create greater wait times.
  • It’s great for community-focused sites where preferences can alter which content appears first—this tends to be User Generated Content (UGC).
  • It tends to have much faster loading speeds.
  • SPA’s work well with pages which incorporate many filters or a large number of products, such as large e-commerce stores.
  • The page only populates when a user loads the page, which again is beneficial to the site speed as all the information needed has already been downloaded.

Disadvantages of Single Page Applications

A single page application will only work in your favour if it’s suited for your goals and objective of the site. Some disadvantages of SPA’s include:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be difficult to implement on single-page applications. This is because SEO is based around making your site as easy as possible to crawl and index by a search engine (such as Google), which uses the HTML file. This process becomes much more complicated using a SPA as crawlers must render all the content before they can see and index it. In some cases, it may take a couple of days or longer until your content is indexed and ranked in Google correctly.
  • Tracing errors can be difficult for people who aren’t experienced using JavaScript.
  • You may require finding developers that specialise in one or more JavaScript-based frameworks, for example, AngularJS, Node.js, React and similar. This makes it harder to maintain the website and scalability.
  • To make it SEO friendly, it requires extensive knowledge of server configuration.
  • If your goals don’t align with the benefits of a single page application, you’re creating more of a headache than you need.

Examples of Single Page Applications

Many of the applications we use daily are Single-Page Applications. Some of the most common Single Page Applications include:

  • Gmail
  • Google Maps
  • Netflix
  • Airbnb
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter

What is a Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) Based Website?

A Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) based CMS system is an open-source scripting language which is performed on the server and suited for website developers. It can generate dynamic page content and is compatible with many databases. In other words, the scripting language (which automates the execution of tasks) allows developers to create more complex actions on-site such as using password-protected access to pages and collect information from forms.

Benefits of using PHP

Generally, PHP is a great programming language for many uses, however, some drawbacks may mean that another type would suit your business’s goals better. Advantages of using PHP Programming include:

  • Using PHP allows you to create a template for headers, footers, and sidebars for every page. This means that these don’t need to be individually created for every page, ultimately saving you more time.
  • One of the best factors about using Hypertext Preprocessor systems is the compatibility it has with many other tools, CMS systems, scripting languages and Operating Systems (OS) such as Windows, Mac OS & Linux.
  • The development process of PHP tends to be far cheaper than others, as it is open source and tend to need less development.
  • PHP is relatively straightforward to use for many web developers.
  • PHP is a great system to use for handling forms.

Limitations to PHP

Although PHP works great for a variety of web pages and purposes, some limitations may mean that other programming languages may be more suited to your purpose. Disadvantages of using PHP include:

  • PHP can be filled with unwanted code, which can lead to slower site speeds from the server.
  • For larger applications, a PHP framework may not be suitable. This is because it’s harder to work on this type of code in small chunks, meaning large sites may be hard to maintain at a high-quality level.
  • PHP also has fewer debugging tools built-in when comparing to other programming languages, meaning it can be harder for web developers to find them if they aren’t experienced with the system.

Examples of Websites Using Hypertext Preprocessor

Many of the sites we’d use daily are also using PHP processing language. Some examples of companies which use PHP:

  • WordPress websites
  • Wikipedia
  • Tumblr
  • Canva
  • MailChimp

Single Page Application vs. Hypertext Preprocessor Comparison

Single Page Application (SPA)Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)

User experience (UX) focused


Fast download timesyesno
Ease to create pages with many products or filters


Works well with large scale projects


Site speed generally fast


SEO implementation straight forwardno


Tracing errors easily found & fixedno


Easily compatible with many tools, CMS, scripting languages & Operating Systemsno


Straightforward Web Buildno


Cheaper to createno



In conclusion, there’s no website structure that’s the best for every type of business. However, there are some options that can be more suited to a business, which is dependent on factors such as the goal of the website and digital marketing strategy. If you’re still unsure which solution will be the best for your business, get in touch with us today. We can help you with everything from your website build through to advanced SEO techniques to make your site excel.