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What are the Benefits of Server-Side Software?

Are you looking to add interactivity to your website? Do you need to offer your visitors an enhanced experience? Is building engagement through advanced features a priority?

If so, then you’ll need to implement either server-side or client-side software. In this guide, we focus on the benefits of server-side software, and make a direct comparison – server-side software vs. client-side software.

How Does Server-Side Software Work?

It’s possible to create a basic website using a blend of HTML and CSS. The HTML defines the nature of the content, while the CSS defines the style – i.e. the way the content is displayed. But there are limitations on what can be achieved with HTML and CSS alone.

Essentially, you’re stuck with a brochure site – a website that consists of static webpages. These pages may look effective and clearly display what you offer, but they will lack interactivity. Just like a real brochure, your customers can read and see content about your offering, but can’t buy directly via your site – or access richer, interactive functionality.

Server-side software works by reacting to a visitor’s actions or input to create a superior, dynamic experience; an experience that’s tailored in response to each visitor’s behaviour. We call it ‘server-side’ software because that’s where the scripts run – on the web server that hosts the website, not in the visitor’s own browser. Like any software, server-side software responds predictably, according to the way it has been programmed. Let’s look at some examples.

Examples of Server-Side Software

We encounter server-side software almost every time we use the internet. Imagine you need to provide your mobile number, in order to sign up for a service; a server-side script could instantly verify that you’ve entered the correct number of digits. The script could respond to an 11-digit number by progressing you to the next page, while it could respond to a 12-digit number by returning an error message.

This is an extremely simple example of server-side software at work. We see more complex examples powering ecommerce websites. Think of the process of adding items to a shopping basket; each time you view that basket, the webpage displays each of the items you’ve added, together with the total cost, shipping fees and taxes.

Web Apps

Server-side software is integral to the functioning of web apps. In fact, there’s no hard-and-fast distinction between a modern, dynamic website and a web app. The lines are becoming increasingly blurred as websites continue to grow in capability.

Web apps have become integral to day-to-day life. If you use a webmail account such as Gmail or Outlook, or edit and share documents using Google Docs or Microsoft Word Online, then you’re making use of a sophisticated web app that’s powered – in part at least – by advanced server-side software.

Server-Side Software vs. Client-Side Software

There are actually two ways of powering dynamic websites. Code can run on the server or on the client side; i.e. within the visitor’s own web browser. Typically, different programming languages are chosen for server-side and client-side operations. Many server-side scripts are written using PHP, while many client-side scripts are created using JavaScript.

Server-side operations provide more security – since the code is not visible to the website’s visitors. Running a script on the server side may also be thought of as more reliable, since the server’s environment is predictable, consistent and stable.

Meanwhile, client-side scripts are expected to run in a diverse range of web browsers. Some browsers may not fully support JavaScript – particularly if the user has disabled this. On the plus side, client-side operations can reduce the load on a server, by effectively ‘outsourcing’ the work to each visitor’s own device.

Ultimately, the decision between server-side software vs. client-side software depends on the unique needs of the website, or web app, in question. By working with web developers who use a range of technologies, you can be confident of receiving impartial advice. You can learn more about our server-side software development here, or reach out and contact our friendly teamto discuss your project.

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