Exploring Next.js: A Framework for Server-Rendered React Apps

Written by:DMLabs
Published on: May 07, 24
5 min read


Next.js is a robust framework that simplifies the development of server-rendered React applications, offering a robust solution for building performant and scalable web experiences. 36.7% of developers use Next.js for their projects. With an emphasis on ease of use and convention over configuration, Next.js streamlines the development process by providing a structured setup for React projects.

One of its standout features is server-side rendering (SSR), enabling faster initial page loads by rendering React components on the server and sending fully rendered HTML to the client. It not only enhances performance but also contributes to search engine optimisation. Next.js also supports static site generation (SSG), allowing developers to pre-render pages at build time, further optimising loading speeds.

The framework includes many built-in functionalities, such as automatic code splitting, dynamic routing, and API routes, making it a versatile tool for creating complex and dynamic applications. With its active community and continuous updates, Next.js remains a preferred choice for developers seeking an efficient and modern approach to building React applications.

What is Next.js?

Next.js stands as a React framework streamlining the intricacies of web application development. It offers a structured and opinionated approach to building applications, primarily focusing on React development. Next.js strongly emphasises server-side rendering (SSR), incorporating various performance optimisations by default. This framework significantly reduces the need for extensive configuration, making it an ideal choice for developers aiming to minimise the overhead of setting up intricate build pipelines.

What sets Next.js apart is its commitment to simplicity and convention over configuration. By adhering to a set structure and providing sensible defaults, Next.js accelerates the development process, allowing developers to concentrate on building robust, dynamic, and scalable applications.

The framework’s incorporation of SSR is particularly noteworthy, as it significantly improves initial page load times by rendering React components on the server and transmitting fully rendered HTML to the client. It enhances performance and contributes to search engine optimisation (SEO) by presenting search engines with readily available, crawlable content. Next.js emerges as a powerful tool, empowering developers to create feature-rich web applications efficiently and quickly.

Setting Up a Next.js Project

Setting up a Next.js project is like preparing a blank canvas for painting your website. First, you must install Next.js, like getting the right brushes. You do this by running a few commands on your computer. Once installed, you create a new project with a simple command, like laying down the canvas.

Next.js project setup is a blank canvas

Now, imagine your website as a house. In Next.js, the rooms are called pages. Creating these rooms is easy –make a new file for each one. Next.js is brilliant, so if you name a file ‘about.js,’ it automatically knows there’s a page about something. It’s like magic!

Think of your project structure as organising different parts of your house – one for pages, another for pictures (static assets), and a closet for your website’s style (CSS). With this simple setup, you can start building your online home!

Pages in Next.js

Pages in Next.js are like the different rooms in your website’s house. Each page is a separate space for specific content, like a bedroom for ‘Home,’ a kitchen for ‘About,’ and a living room for ‘Contact.’ Creating these rooms is easy – you make a new file for each one. If you name a file ‘about.js,’ Next.js automatically knows it’s a page about something. It’s like labeling your rooms with sticky notes.

When someone visits your website, they’re essentially walking through these rooms. The cool part is that Next.js makes it simple to create these pathways – you don’t need to draw a map; it knows how to connect everything. It makes navigating your website smooth and effortless, like moving from room to room in a well-designed house. So, with Next.js, you’re not just building pages but crafting an inviting and organised online space.

Server-Side Rendering (SSR)

Server-side rendering (SSR) in Next.js is like having a chef prepare your meal in the kitchen and serve it at the table. When you request a webpage, the server (the kitchen) does all the hard work by cooking up the page and sending you a fully prepared dish (the webpage). This process ensures that what you receive is ready to enjoy without any additional effort.

Next.js SSR speeds webpage loading

In simpler terms, instead of sending you a recipe (raw ingredients and instructions) and expecting you to cook it yourself, SSR provides a fully cooked and plated meal directly to your table. This way, you get a quicker and more complete experience. SSR in Next.js enhances webpage loading times, making them faster and more efficient, much like a well-prepared meal served promptly without waiting.

Client-Side Navigation

Client-side navigation in Next.js is like moving around your favourite website without waiting for the whole page to reload. It’s similar to seamlessly exploring different rooms in a house, where each room is a different part of the website. With Next.js, you move around within the home instead of leaving the house (refreshing the page) whenever you want to check out another room.

Think of it as flipping through a well-organised book without starting from the beginning each time you turn a page. Next.js makes this possible by loading only the necessary information, giving you a speedy and smooth navigation experience. So, when you click a link or button, it’s like effortlessly strolling from one room to another, making your journey through the website feel fluid and enjoyable.

Styling in Next.js

Styling in Next.js is like dressing up your website to look stylish and appealing. Imagine your website is a person, and styling is choosing their outfit. Next.js offers different ways to pick the perfect attire.

One option is CSS-in-JS, which is like getting a custom-made outfit. Styled components or Emotions act as your tailor, allowing you to write your styles alongside your code. Another way is to use global styles and themes, similar to having a wardrobe full of matching clothes. You can set a consistent look for your entire website in one go, making it feel cohesive, like someone with a great fashion sense.

In essence, styling in Next.js is about effortlessly making your website look good. Whether you prefer a tailored look or a wardrobe of coordinated styles, Next.js gives you the tools to make your website as stylish as possible.

Deployment and Optimisation

Deployment and optimisation in Next.js are like ensuring your website looks good and performs well for everyone. Think of it as putting on a spectacular show in a theatre. Deployment is like setting up the stage; optimisation ensures the performance runs smoothly.

Deploy for grand opening, optimise for flawless performance

When you deploy a Next.js website, it’s like opening night – you make your site live for the audience to access. Popular platforms act as the theatre, providing a stage for your website. Optimisation is fine-tuning the performance, ensuring your show runs without hiccups. It’s like making sure the lights are just right, the actors are in top form, and the audience experiences a seamless and enjoyable performance.

In simpler terms, deployment is the grand opening, and optimisation guarantees that your website performs flawlessly, making it a delightful experience for your visitors.

Community and Ecosystem

The community and ecosystem in Next.js are like having friends and an excellent hangout spot. The Next.js community is your squad – a group of developers who share tips and tricks and help each other. It’s like having buddies who’ve been there, done that, and are ready to guide you in your web development journey.

Now, the ecosystem is the place where everyone gathers – a happening spot where you find tools, plugins, and resources to make your website even more extraordinary. It’s like a buzzing marketplace where developers exchange ideas, showcase their creations, and contribute to the collective knowledge.

So, being part of the Next.js community is like having a supportive friend circle, and exploring the ecosystem is like discovering a vibrant hangout where everyone’s excited to make the web a better place together.


Next.js has emerged as a dependable framework for constructing server-rendered React applications, offering simplicity, performance enhancements, and versatile data fetching capabilities. In 2023, Next.js is the most used web framework among developers, with a 16.67% adoption rate. It stands out as an optimal choice across projects of diverse complexities, catering to beginners and seasoned developers. Next.js excels in simplifying the development journey, enabling a focus on crafting exceptional user experiences. Its user-friendly approach and built-in performance optimisations make it a go-to solution for web developers seeking efficiency and effectiveness. Whether you’re just starting or navigating intricate development tasks, Next.js remains a reliable companion, providing the tools and structure needed to streamline the creation of compelling and dynamic web applications.


Q.  Can I use Next.js with other frontend frameworks?

A. While Next.js is primarily designed for React, it can be integrated with other frontend frameworks or libraries. However, it may require additional configuration and adjustments.

Q. How does Next.js handle code splitting?

A.  Next.js supports automatic code splitting, ensuring that only the necessary JavaScript is loaded for each page. It helps optimise performance by reducing initial loading times.

Q. Is server-side rendering necessary for every page in a Next.js application?

A. No, Next.js provides flexibility. Developers can choose between server-side rendering, static site generation, or a combination based on the specific requirements of each page.

Q. What are some alternatives to Next.js for server-rendered React applications?

A. Other frameworks like Gatsby and Nuxt.js also offer server-rendering capabilities for React and Vue.js, respectively. The choice depends on the project’s specific needs and the developer’s preferences.