Prerender: 7 Steps to Boost Your PWA with Pre-rendered Pages

pre-rendered page

In the fast-paced world of web development, user experience is crucial. Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) blend native app performance with web browser accessibility. One key tool in enhancing PWA performance is Prerender. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore what Prerender is, its pros and cons, and how to set it up for your Magento PWA. Let’s cut through the clutter and understand how pre-rendering can either boost or hinder your PWA’s success.

What is Prerender?

Prerender is a technique used to improve the performance of web applications, especially PWAs. It generates static HTML snapshots of your dynamic web pages and serves them to the client upon request. This pre-rendered HTML can significantly reduce the initial page load time by providing a complete page without requiring client-side rendering.

Advantages and disadvantages of Prerender

Advantages of Prerender

Faster Initial Page Load

Prerendering generates static HTML snapshots, reducing the time it takes for a page to load initially. Users experience quicker access to content without waiting for client-side rendering.

Improved User Experience

A faster initial page load contributes to a smoother and more enjoyable user experience. Visitors are more likely to stay engaged and explore your site further.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Benefits

Prerendered pages can be beneficial for SEO, as search engine crawlers can easily index static HTML content. This can potentially lead to improved search engine rankings.

Effective for Dynamic Content

Prerendering is particularly effective for PWAs with dynamic content. It provides a snapshot of the page at a specific moment, ensuring users get a complete view of the content.

Reduced Server Load

By serving pre-rendered HTML, the server workload is reduced compared to dynamic rendering on each user request. This can result in better server performance and resource utilization.

Compatibility with PWAs

Prerendering aligns well with the principles of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), contributing to the overall performance and responsiveness expected from modern web applications.

Disadvantages of Prerender

Stale Content Issues

Since Prerender generates static HTML snapshots, there is a risk of serving outdated content if the underlying data changes frequently. This can lead to discrepancies between the pre-rendered page and the live content.

Increased Server Storage

Storing pre-rendered HTML snapshots for multiple pages can consume server storage space. This is a consideration, especially for websites with extensive content and numerous pages.

Complexity in Dynamic Applications

Maintaining accurate and up-to-date pre-rendered snapshots for highly dynamic applications can be challenging. The pre-rendered version may not accurately reflect complex interactions and real-time updates.

Initial Setup Overhead

Configuring and setting up Prerender may require additional effort, especially for users unfamiliar with the technology. The initial setup process involves installation, configuration, and testing.

Potential for Crawling Issues

Search engine crawlers may not always handle pre-rendered content optimally. While many search engines can process JavaScript, there may still be some limitations in terms of indexing and rendering.

Dependency on Client-Side JavaScript

Prerendering relies on client-side JavaScript execution. If users have JavaScript disabled, the benefits of Prerender may not be fully realized, as the client won’t be able to fetch and display the pre-rendered content as intended.

What is the difference between Prerender and Real-time render?

CriteriaPre-renderingReal-time Rendering
DefinitionGenerates static HTML snapshots in advance, served upon request.Dynamic creation and display of content in response to user interactions.
PerformanceReduces initial page load times.Adaptable to dynamic content and real-time updates.
Improves user experience with instant access.Enables interactive and personalized user experiences.
Ideal for static or less frequently changing content.Typically longer initial page load times.
Risk of stale content.Increased server load, especially during peak usage.
Complex dynamic interactions may not be accurately reflected.Content is always up-to-date.
Use CasesWell-suited for content-heavy websites with relatively static information.Ideal for applications with dynamic and interactive features.
Server LoadGenerally reduces server load as static content is served directly.Involves dynamic content creation, potentially increasing server load.
Setup ComplexityRequires setup and configuration but is generally straightforward.More complex setup, involving real-time data synchronization and client-server communication.
DependenciesPrimarily dependent on client-side JavaScript for content retrieval.Relies on dynamic server-side processing and client-side JavaScript execution.
SEO BenefitsEnhances SEO with easily indexable static content.SEO benefits may vary; content is dynamically generated.

The choice between pre-rendering and real-time rendering depends much on the nature of the business and its goals. That’s why you should know the differences between pre-rendered pages and rendered pages to choose the suitable one.

How to Install Prerender?

Installing Prerender may sound intricate, but we’ve broken down the process into simple steps to ensure a seamless implementation for your Magento PWA.

1. Prerequisites

Before diving into the installation process, confirm that Node.js is installed on your server. If not, you can easily install it to proceed with the setup.

2. Installation

To begin installing, you need to open your terminal or command prompt.

Next, navigate to your project’s root directory.

Then, run the following command to install Prerender as an npm package

npm install prerender

3. Start Prerender

With Prerender now installed, take the next step by initiating it using the following command:

node node_modules/prerender/server.js

4. Configuration

Prerender offers various configuration options in its config.js file. You can customize its behavior according to your project’s requirements.

5. Create prerender service

Firstly, open a text editor to create the Prerender service file:

sudo nano /lib/systemd/system/prerender.service

Paste the provided configuration into the file, adjusting values such as the user name and paths.

Description=Prerender Service

ExecStart=path_to_node_version /usr/share/yarn/bin/yarn.js --cwd path_to_prerender_folder start


Save the file and run the following commands to reload the system manager configuration, enable the Prerender service, and start it:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable prerender
sudo systemctl start prerender

This step ensures that Prerender runs as a service, providing continuous support for your Magento PWA.

6. Configure Prerender for Magento PWA

Inside your Magento dashboard, navigate to Stores → Configuration → Web → UPWARD PWA Configuration. Here, seamlessly integrate Prerender for optimal performance tailored to your Magento PWA.

7. Testing

Conclude the installation process by rigorously testing your pre-rendered pages. Utilize performance auditing tools such as Lighthouse to assess the overall performance of your Magento PWA.

Wrap Up

Why settle for good when you can be great? Prerender offers a one-way ticket to a faster, smoother, and more engaging user experience. While the advantages are compelling, the implementation requires attention to detail. 

Our step-by-step guide ensures a user-friendly setup, from prerequisites to thorough testing, tailored for a PWA that meets and exceeds user expectations. If you need any support, feel free to contact Tigren experts.