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React.js vs. Next.js: Why businesses prefer Next.js over React.js?

by Rajni
React.js vs. Next.js
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Modern businesses are striving to optimize their websites for maximum traffic and sales conversion. So, to meet these needs, tech geeks and developers worldwide are creating new technologies. According to a recent study, the number of global internet users is expected to reach 5.3 billion by 2023. Moreover, consumers’ attention span have decreased to just eight seconds on average, which is less than that of a goldfish. As a result, 47% of consumers expect webpages to load within two seconds or less, and 40% may leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Additionally, 33% expect websites to load quickly on their mobile devices. A website’s user experience and SEO optimization are crucial factors in its success, and Next.js has the potential to help these sites achieve both. To understand Next.js, it is necessary to understand React.js. 

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Introduction to React and Next.js

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What is React.js?

In 2013, a group of developers at Meta, previously known as Facebook, developed and released React, a JavaScript library that enabled the creation of interactive user interfaces. React was used to create dynamic web applications that required real-time data updates on their user interfaces, such as social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where users could scroll through pages to view new content while other sections remained static.  However, using React required extensive tooling, which was becoming a daunting task for developers looking for a more straightforward and time-saving approach to web development. As a result, in 2016, Next.js was introduced, offering a variety of enterprise-level advantages and features for businesses, and quickly gained popularity among developers. 

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What is Next.js?

Next.js is a JavaScript framework built on top of React to enhance its capabilities and simplify the development process. Basically, by providing a zero-configuration setup, it allows  developers to create web applications quickly. Moreover, Next.js has all the tools out-of-the-box, making it an attractive option for developers who are tired of React’s complexity. Thus, it has gained a lot of popularity in the world of React, as it allows developers to create user-friendly and SEO-friendly web applications and static websites. Consequently, it became one of the most popular frameworks for rapidly developing applications in the React ecosystem. 

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What is the difference between React vs. Next.js?

  • React is a library and Next.js is a framework built on top of React.
  • Next.js uses React as its base to create websites with additional features and capabilities.
  • Next.js provides built-in configurations and styling solutions that streamline development.
  • Next.js offers templates and starter websites that developers can use to start building their web applications.
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Comparison between React.js vs. Next.js

PurposeLibrary for building user interfaces.Framework for building server rendered React applications.
Server-side RenderingNot built-in, requires additional setup.Built-in
RoutingNot built-in, requires additional package.Built-in
Data FetchingRequires additional libraries and setup.Built-in
SEO OptimizationRequires additional setup.Built-in
File-based RoutingNoYes
Hybrid RenderingNoYes
Code SplittingNoYes
API RoutesNoYes
Development ExperienceMore control and flexibility, steeper learning curve.More opinionated and easier to get started with.
EcosystemHuge and active ecosystem with many third-party libraries and tools.Smaller ecosystem, but growing rapidly.
UsageSuitable for building single-page applications (SPAs) and mobile apps.Suitable for building full-stack applications with server-side rendering and SEO optimization.
Learning CurveSteeper learning curve, especially for beginners.Easier to get started with, especially for beginners.
PerformanceHigh performance due to virtual DOM and efficient updates.High performance due to server-side rendering and code splitting.
DeploymentMore complex deployment process, requires a separate server.Simpler deployment process, can be easily deployed to serverless platforms such as Vercel.
LicenseMIT LicenseMIT License
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Why use Next.js?

  • Server-side rendering: Next.js uses server-side rendering to render the HTML content, whereas React and Create React App (CRA) render content on the client-side. 
  • Pre-rendering features: Next.js offers static generation and server-side rendering options, whereas CRA doesn’t offer any pre-rendering features. 
  • SEO-friendly: Next.js is SEO-friendly due to its pre-rendering features and server-side rendering, whereas CRA doesn’t offer any SEO-friendly features. 
  • Less coding: Next.js involves less coding than React and CRA. 
  • High performance: Both Next.js and CRA offer high performance, but Next.js has more optimization tools and features. 
  • Zero-config environment: Next.js is a zero-config framework, whereas CRA requires additional configuration. 
  • Easy updates on live websites: Next.js allows easy updates on live websites with the Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) feature, whereas CRA doesn’t offer any feature for live updates. 
  • Full-stack web framework: Next.js is a full-stack web framework that provides API routes, whereas CRA is only a front-end framework. 
FeaturesNext.jsReact + CRA
Server-side renderingYesNo
Pre-rendering featuresStatic Generation and Server-side RenderingNo
Less codingYesNo
High performanceYesYes
Zero-config environmentYesNo
Easy updates on live websitesYes (Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR))No
Full-stack web frameworkYesNo
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Next.js offers remarkable developer experience with many built-in features

  • Intuitive page-based routing system (with support for dynamic routes) 
  • Pre-rendering including both static generation (SSG) and server-side rendering (SSR) are supported on a per-page basis 
  • Automatic code splitting for faster page loads 
  • Client-side routing with optimized prefetching 
  • Built-in CSS and Sass support, and support for any CSS-in-JS library 
  • Development environment with Fast Refresh support 
  • API routes to build API endpoints with Serverless Functions 
  • Fully extendable features  
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When to use Next.js?

Businesses can make use of Next.js, if they:

  • Want to offer a rich, faster, and innovative user experience  
  • Want to attract traffic to their websites 
  • Want to boost their overall visibility and brand awareness 
  • Want to convert their online traffic into sales leads. 
  • Want to top the search list over their competitors and outperform them  
  • Want to spend less time maintaining their website 
  • Want to scale up their business in real-time and grow and expand without any hindrance 

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Built on Next.js

  • Airbnb 
  • Netflix 
  • Uber 
  • Twitch 
  • Hulu 
  • Nike 
  • GitHub 
  • Atlassian 
  • Shopify 
  • Coursera

Powered by React.js

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • WhatsApp
  • Netflix
  • Airbnb
  • Dropbox
  • PayPal
  • Uber
  • Tesla
  • Twitter 
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Websites using Next.js.

  1. Hulu: Next.js is used for server-side rendering to improve performance and SEO. 
  2. Discord: Discord’s marketing website is built using Next.js for fast and responsive rendering. 
  3. GitLab: GitLab’s documentation site is built using Next.js and deployed as a static site to improve performance. 
  4. Zillow: Zillow’s website is built using Next.js for server-side rendering and improved SEO. 
  5. NBC News: NBC News uses Next.js to build their website and improve performance. 
  6. Typeform: Typeform uses Next.js to build their landing pages and improve page load times. 
  7. Nike: Nike’s e-commerce site uses Next.js for server-side rendering and improved performance. 
  8. Uber: Uber’s internal tooling dashboard is built using Next.js to improve development efficiency. 
  9. Salesforce: Salesforce uses Next.js for their Trailhead learning platform to provide an interactive, responsive user experience. 
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Companies using React.js

  1. Facebook: Facebook created React.js and uses it in their web applications, including the main Facebook website and mobile app. 
  2. Instagram: Instagram built its website and mobile app using React.js because of its flexibility and performance.
  3. Netflix: Netflix built its web application using React.js because it is fast and can handle complex UI interactions. 
  4. Dropbox: Dropbox built its website and desktop app using React.js because of its performance and ease of use.
  5. Airbnb: Airbnb built its web application using React.js because it can handle complex UI interactions and is scalable.
  6. New York Times: The New York Times uses React.js to build their website, which allows for efficient rendering and easy updating of content. 
  7. WhatsApp: WhatsApp built its web and desktop applications using React.js because it is flexible and easy to use.
  8. Uber: Uber built its web application using React.js because it can handle complex UI interactions and provide a responsive user experience.
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Next.js is a popular choice among leading companies such as Netflix, Nike, Apple, Hulu, Hilton, Binance, and AT&T due to its adaptable and responsive features. Websites and apps developed using Next.js can function seamlessly on any device, regardless of screen resolution or size, providing users with accessibility and convenience. In today’s digital landscape, businesses are striving to establish a strong online presence, but using outdated tools can make web application development a time-consuming and unproductive process for developers. By utilizing intuitive and agile frameworks such as Next.js, developers can optimize the web development ecosystem, making it more interactive and financially viable for businesses.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Next.js is a web development framework that is open-source and built on top of Node.js. It enables web applications based on React to have functionalities like server-side rendering and generating static websites.

Server-side rendering (SSR) is an application’s ability to convert HTML files on the server into a fully rendered HTML page for the client. The web browser submits a request for information from the server, which instantly responds by sending a fully rendered page to the client. 

Client-side rendering refers to the process of rendering content in the browser using JavaScript.

The feature of pre-rendering enables the rendering of HTML content in advance on the server side, instead of relying on the hardware to render it in real-time.

Search engine optimization is the process that helps your website rank higher in search engine results pages.  

The latest version of React.js 18.3.1 is released in April 2024.

React.js developers create user interfaces using React library reusable components, manage application states, integrate with backend services, and ensure the UI performs well across various devices and browsers.

To implement pagination in React.js, you can use a combination of state management and component logic to divide your data into pages. You can also use third-party libraries like react-paginate for more advanced features.

CRUD operations in React.js are performed through state management and interacting with a backend API. 

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