If you are paying attention, you know that most current web trends revolve around mobile devices. That is not expected to change in the near future. At the start of 2017, practically everyone with a blog predicted that Google’s AMP project would be one of the top topics of the year. So far, they haven’t been wrong. If you are just catching up, here are some things you need to know:
What is Google AMP?
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, and it’s a project Google launched back in February 2016. The goal was to create a new gold standard for mobile versions of websites that are high quality, load quickly, and are easy to view on your smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Many call it a lighter version of HTML. Any page built using the AMP rules and standards automatically appear within Google’s organic search results.
In Google’s own words: “We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant — no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using.”
Why should web developers care about it?
We live in a world of instant gratification. Everyone, particularly millennials and beyond, want what they want when they want it, and if they can’t get it, they are likely to move on to find it somewhere else. Companies like Amazon are catching up with phenomenon by offering same day delivery services. Consider this the web development version.
Studies have shown that if your website doesn’t load within three seconds, the user is likely to move on. When you load a page on a mobile device, it’s almost a given that it’s going to take longer than it would if you were using a desktop computer. Google’s AMP project seeks to help you with that. Mobile websites that use the AMP rules load almost instantly and up to 30 times quicker than websites that don’t.
But it’s not just about speed.
Instant loading times may be the number one perk of AMP, but that’s not the only advantage. We have all seen mobile websites that are difficult to view. They don’t fit within the frame of your device, and you have to stretch and swipe to find exactly what you are looking for. Then you have to struggle with pop-up ads and distorted text and images that won’t load at all, even after you wait a minute.
AMP helps solve this problem, too. As a matter of fact, one complaint that some web designers have is that AMP pages all look kind of similar. They are clean and sleek and lack all of the extras that can interrupt the user experience. You may have to sacrifice a little creativity for it, but if it keeps users and potential consumers on your page, it may be worth it.
What about advertising?
When Google announced the project, the company said, “Any sites using AMP HTML will retain their choice of ad networks, as well as any formats that don’t detract from the user experience.” That likely means that if you count on pop-up ads and/or interstitials for advertising, you may have to find a new way to get through to consumers. But that is probably a good idea anyway, considering many users are already blocking those kinds of ads. On the other hand, whatever advertisers do come up with will load just as quickly as the website if they are able to incorporate them into pages that use AMP rules.
So, how exactly does it work?
Are there any downsides to using AMP?
As mentioned, one of the biggest downsides to AMP so far is that it’s hard to get too creative on your website. Some developers do not like the limits on code and liken it to the first days of using HTML. It can be difficult to get the hang of at first, but the longer it has been implemented, the more tools and add-ons have emerged to make it easier. There is also the issue of having to change the way you advertise.
Another major issue is how AMP may affect your site traffic. Let’s assume you have a mobile site with AMP rules fully implemented. A person goes to Google, searches for something, and your site is the first one she clicks on. She likes it and wants to share the link with a friend. The URL to that link will begin with Google.com instead of Yourwebsitename.com. This could make analytics difficult.
Who should use AMP?
If you have a website and want an attractive mobile version of it, it’s worth looking into AMP, no matter who you are. So far, blogs, news outlets, and other websites that are rich with content have benefitted most. However, many ecommerce sites are starting to take advantage of it, as well. Last summer, eBay began using it on some of its product pages. Pages that load instantly could benefit any business that sells products and services online, so even if you aren’t quite ready to hop on board, keep paying attention.