A culinary twist to understanding web rendering 

Teodora Udrea
Tuesday 14 November 2023

Welcome to the gourmet world of web development, where the art of web rendering is akin to the culinary craft of creating a feast for the senses. If you’ve ever wondered how websites are served up as swiftly as your favourite dish, you’re in for a treat.

Vegetables and condiments on kitchen worktop scattered around a laptop which shows an image of a bowl of pasta

Web rendering is the behind-the-scenes process that turns code into the interactive pages we browse every day. It’s a blend of ingredients – HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – cooked together to deliver the digital experiences we’ve come to savour.

Client-side rendering (CSR): the home-cooking experience

Imagine whipping up a meal in your kitchen – that’s what client-side rendering (CSR) feels like in the web development realm.

The browser is your stove, utensils, and cookware doing all the work to serve the content.

CSR offers the zest of dynamic interactivity, perfect for those who enjoy a dash of spontaneity in their apps. Plus, it lightens the load on the server – akin to keeping your pantry stocked without overburdening it.

But there’s a catch: the initial preparation might take longer, and if your cooking skills (or internet connection) aren’t up to snuff, it could affect the final taste. Moreover, your ‘homemade’ website might not get the recognition it deserves from the discerning palates of search engines.

Server-side rendering (SSR): the made-to-order dining delight

Now, envision a fine dining experience where a chef prepares your dish from scratch.

Server-side rendering (SSR) delivers a complete web page to your plate, hot and ready to enjoy.

The benefits? Quicker service to table and a flavour that search engines can’t resist, improving your visibility like a dish’s rank in a food critics’ guide.

SSR ensures every user gets the same quality experience, regardless of the traffic in the restaurant. But remember, a busy kitchen can be strained, and the complexity of managing such a culinary establishment parallels the server demands and backend intricacies of SSR.

Static site generation (SSG): the convenience of frozen meals

For those who value speed and convenience, static site generation (SSG) is like reaching for a frozen meal.

It’s pre-made, ready to heat, and quick to serve, ensuring users don’t wait for their digital dish.

And because these meals are stored in a Content Delivery Network (CDN) ‘freezer’, the server kitchen remains uncluttered and efficient.

This approach is a win for search engine optimisation (SEO), much like how quick service can lead to happy customers and rave reviews. However, the set menu means no last-minute custom orders; once the site is built, updating it requires a complete ‘reheat’, and managing a large ‘freezer’ can be quite the undertaking.

Incremental site rendering (ISR): the buffet strategy

Incremental site rendering (ISR) takes a leaf from the buffet line, replenishing dishes as they run low to maintain freshness without overhauling the entire spread.

It’s a blend of static stability and dynamic updates, keeping the content fresh and the server ready for the ebb and flow of web traffic.

Guests enjoy a seamless experience, oblivious to the kitchen’s continuous updates.

However, just as a buffet might temporarily run out of your favourite dish, users might encounter outdated content until the page is refreshed. And like a buffet requiring a strategic restocking plan, ISR needs careful implementation to ensure efficiency.

Deferred site generation (DSG): the bakery on demand

Deferred site generation (DSG) is the bespoke bakery of web rendering, baking high-priority content fresh as orders come in.

It prioritises what customers crave the most, ensuring those items are always ready.

This method scales beautifully, handling big rushes like a bakery during breakfast or lunch time. Yet, sometimes a special order might take a bit longer, and running this kind of bakery requires a skilled baker who knows how to manage resources during the breakfast rush – much like DSG’s need for strategic resource planning.


From the home-cooked delights of CSR to the efficient frozen aisles of SSG, each web rendering method offers a distinct flavour and experience.

Like choosing between a made-to-order meal or a quick microwave fix, selecting the correct web-rendering strategy depends on your site’s needs and your users’ expectations.

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