Next.js vs. Create React App - A Comparison


When it comes to building web applications with React, developers have two popular choices: Next.js and Create React App (CRA). Both are excellent tools, but they serve different purposes and have distinct features. In this comparison, we'll explore the differences between Next.js and CRA to help you make an informed decision when starting your next project.

Project Setup

One of the most significant differences between Next.js and CRA is how they handle project setup.


Next.js is a framework for building server-rendered React applications. It comes with built-in server-side rendering (SSR) and routing. Setting up a Next.js project is as simple as running a single command:

        npx create-next-app my-nextjs-app
cd my-nextjs-app

Next.js provides a great development experience out of the box with features like automatic code splitting and hot module replacement. It's an excellent choice for building universal applications with server-side rendering.

Create React App (CRA)

Create React App is a tool for creating React applications with no build configuration. It's an ideal choice for single-page applications (SPAs) and client-side rendering (CSR).

        npx create-react-app my-cra-app
cd my-cra-app

CRA simplifies the development process by abstracting away build configurations. While it's great for SPAs, it doesn't provide built-in server-side rendering.

Server-Side Rendering (SSR)

One of the key differences between Next.js and CRA is their approach to server-side rendering.


Next.js excels in server-side rendering. It provides automatic server-side rendering for your pages, which improves SEO and initial page load times. To create an SSR page in Next.js, you simply export a React component from a file in the `pages` directory, and it becomes a server-rendered page.

        // pages/ssr-page.js
function SSRPage({ data }) {
return <div>{data}</div>;
export async function getServerSideProps() {
// Fetch data from an API or database
const data = await fetchData();
return {
props: { data },
export default SSRPage;

Create React App (CRA)

CRA is primarily designed for client-side rendering. While it's possible to implement server-side rendering with CRA, it requires more manual configuration, including setting up a Node.js server using libraries like Express.

In CRA, your pages are typically rendered on the client side. This can be suitable for SPAs, but it may not be as SEO-friendly or performance-optimized as SSR.


Routing is another aspect where Next.js and CRA differ.


Next.js provides a file-based routing system. Each file in the `pages` directory corresponds to a route. For example, a file named `about.js` in the `pages` directory will create a route at `/about`.

        // pages/about.js
function AboutPage() {
return <div>About Us</div>;
export default AboutPage;

Create React App (CRA)

CRA relies on popular routing libraries like React Router or Reach Router for handling client-side routing. You need to configure and manage routes explicitly using these libraries.

Development Experience

The development experience is an important consideration for any project.


Next.js offers an excellent development experience with features like hot module replacement, fast refresh, and automatic code splitting. It's well-suited for developers who want a seamless development process.

Create React App (CRA)

CRA also provides a smooth development experience with zero-configuration setup. It's great for quickly prototyping and building client-side applications.

When to Use Next.js

You should consider using Next.js when:

  • You need server-side rendering for better SEO and performance.
  • Your project requires automatic code splitting and route-based code loading.
  • You prefer a framework that simplifies the development process.

When to Use Create React App

CRA is a good choice when:

  • Your project is a single-page application (SPA) and doesn't require server-side rendering.
  • You want a minimal setup with no initial build configurations.
  • You plan to use client-side routing libraries like React Router.


Next.js and Create React App serve different purposes and cater to different use cases. Your choice depends on your project's requirements. Both tools have their strengths and are widely used in the React ecosystem, so choose the one that best aligns with your project's needs.