Whop, an online marketplace for digital products, recognized the importance of having a seamless developer and end-user experience and aimed to transform their platform with a modern tech stack.
Whop's journey with Next.js and Vercel began with a desire to accelerate their dev process while boosting SEO and performance.
Previously, they were using a full-stack Ruby on Rails application but wanted to explore React for its better developer experience (DX). After extensive research, they decided that Next.js was the ideal choice for their frontend needs, thanks to its strong focus on SEO and speed.
Next.js offers Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR), which allows updates on specific pages as needed—while maintaining page load speeds as fast as statically generated sites. This functionality would give Whop faster pages and better search engine ranking.
They split their tech stack, with Next.js powering the frontend and their existing Rails API handling the backend. This migration to Next.js took just three months of work, and the results were unveiled in a single release.
Whop initially started with Next.js using the Pages Router, and they continue to use it for certain parts of their application. They also incrementally migrated much of the Pages Router to App Router, which offers enhanced speed and support for React Server Components.
In order to incrementally migrate, they used Edge Middleware to route traffic between an App Router project and their existing pages project on whop.com. The strategic use of Edge Middleware allowed them to gradually roll out significant site changes while still supporting legacy components.
Whop's decision to move to App Router was motivated by their commitment to DX, citing solutions like React Server Components. This transition allowed them to bridge the gap between frontend and backend within a single framework.
At Whop, our mission is to make everyone an internet entrepreneur. To match the pace of the ever-evolving web, we are successfully leveraging the Vercel ecosystem, including Next.js and Vercel, to build software incredibly quickly, leading to rapid growth.
While Whop was aware of React Server Components before the migration, they were pleasantly surprised by the power they brought to their development workflow. The ability to fetch and mutate data directly alongside JSX code means writing less overall code and having a central location for managing and rendering data.
The transition to App Router has transformed Whop's development process by combining frontend and backend functionalities into a unified platform with reusable patterns—making Next.js feel more like a full-stack framework than just a frontend framework—without the complexities of having to know the backend language.
This has resulted in:
- A remarkable increase in their Real Experience Score (RES), soaring from the 30s to the high 90s. Like Lighthouse scores, Vercel's RES gives you performance insights. But unlike Lighthouse, RES is generated from real data points collected from your users' devices, resulting in an authentic evaluation of your users' actual experiences with your application.
- Whop's percentage of Good URLs increasing from 13% to 47%, meaning they showed good Core Web Vitals and contributed to an overall positive user experience.
- The team also saw less Cumulative Layout Shift and better Core Web Vitals overall.
Whop's journey from a monolithic Ruby on Rails application to a Next.js-powered frontend with App Router integration showcases the power of modern, open-source web development tools. Their commitment to speed, scalability, and DX has paid off with impressive performance gains and a more streamlined development process.
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