What exactly is Next.js and why do we use it?

Since Node.js’s inception, we have used it as a digital design and build agency. As a result of our recognition of it as a game-changer, we have been able to deliver highly scalable, data-intensive, real-time back-end services that power the websites and apps for many of our clients, including The Times, Riot Games, The Wall Street Journal, and many others. For us, performance and speed have always been the guiding principles. When React JS emerged, it was a perfect fit for us because the front and back ends of our clients’ applications were already built using JavaScript. So as React JS evolved and nearly replaced it as the standard for creating website front ends, Next.js’ advantages caught our attention.

Let’s start by defining Next.js.
Simply put, Next.js is a React framework for creating Javascript single page applications. This framework has many advantages for both our development team and the applications of our clients. As users, the more we engage in digital interaction, the impatient we become when websites and apps take longer than expected to load. We have started using Next.js for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are related to speed and performance. Technology decisions play a significant role in our ability to deliver highly performant, scalable, successful applications. What specific advantages exist then?

Chris Liverani’s Unsplash image

Rendering on the server (SSR)
All of the React components that make up a website’s user interface are initially rendered on the server. This means that nothing else needs to happen for the user to be able to read the content on the page once the HTML has been delivered to the client (the user’s browser). This gives the user the impression that pages load much more quickly.

In addition, SSR offers the advantage of a ready-to-use, indexable, and crawlable website, which is crucial for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because it eliminates the need for the client side execution of javascript to view the page content. In essence, our clients gain from better technical SEO.

This is a great article to read if you’re curious about the differences between client side rendering and server side rendering.
Because Next JS handles everything related to re-rendering those components in the user’s browser, development time is shortened when components are rendered identically on the server and client sides (universal rendering). Developers can focus solely on creating components without having to worry (too much!) about the environment in which those components will be displayed.

automatically splitting codes
Only the Javascript and CSS required for any given page are loaded by Next.js. As a result, users’ browsers don’t have to download Javascript and CSS that are unnecessary for the particular page they are viewing, which results in significantly faster page loading times. This improves performance because the user’s browser has to download less data and they can access the page’s content more quickly.

Module Replacement for Hot (HMR)
This is very important for developers but less important for the application’s end users. HMR enables developers to see any changes they make live in the application as soon as they are made during development. But in contrast to conventional “live reload” techniques, it only reloads the modules that have actually changed, maintaining the state the application was in and drastically cutting the time needed to see changes in action. In the end, because there are development efficiencies to be gained, it takes us less time to develop, which is good for our clients.

In conclusion, the main advantages of Next.js are:

Improved development methodology benefits our clients’ costs and timelines.
Enhanced performance equates to quicker applications
More indexable, SEO-friendly applications result from improved SEO.
Call us at 01923 261166 for more information or to outsource the development of a custom application.