Making your sites fasterSince Google’s public push in favor of AMP last year, many high-profile companies who publish on the web have also begun to back AMP. Some of these names include the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Twitter, Pinterest, the New York Times (itself in the middle of an ad-wars controversy), and Buzzfeed. Naturally, they want to be on the bandwagon because they’re saying to themselves that any initiative that Google supports is bound to impact our SEO rankings. However, is it really worth it for these companies to support AMP at this time? Does AMP deliver on its promise to make your site faster? [pullquote]if you already understand UX…AMP may not prove to make such a big difference after all[/pullquote] To begin to answer that question, we have to put it in context: If you’re comparing your site to a media-rich site that only has average optimization, then it’s likely. Yet if you’re comparing your site to one featuring minimal design and good optimization, then the jury’s still out. In other words, it’s case-sensitive. If you’ve been one of those early AMP fans who’s already bought into its apparent speed, consider the following: AMP isn’t a new type of technology. Why, even Google admits that AMP was created out of already existing Internet technologies, for the purpose of creating lightweight pages. So, no, there isn’t anything exactly revolutionary about it. Understanding this will help in putting into proper perspective the speed hype surrounding AMP. So if you already understand UX intimately and know how to integrate the latest performance enhancements into your site design and development, then AMP may not prove to make such a big difference after all.
What exactly is AMP?This open-source project was born from discussions between tech companies and publishers about the need to better mobile UX for everyone involved with content: consumers, publishers, creators and users. AMP, it’s important to point out, isn’t a radically new kind of HTML. In fact, as the Project explains, AMP are like other HTML pages, the only difference being a limited set of permissible, technical functionality that’s governed and defined by the AMP spec. AMP will load in any app web view or modern browser, just like ordinary HTML pages, but speed’s a priority due to different, architectural approaches. AMP also promises greater speed because of the reduced amount of code. For example:
- You have less than 50 kb of CSS
- You don’t have code for various ad providers and analytics services
- Lazy loading
Only faster in some casesThe truth of the matter is that AMP will only make your site faster in some, specific situations. It all depends on the site’s tech considerations, but also the needs of the business that the site supports. [pullquote]not using AMP doesn’t mean that you can’t design and tweak your site for speed[/pullquote] Here’s when AMP can make your site faster:
- If your site is so media-rich that it will automatically benefit from the optimized loading processes
- If you want AMP to be in charge of optimizing your site’s speed and performance instead of you handling it yourself
What you have to knowFor all of its fanfare, especially from Google, AMP is still in its infancy, which is a significant reality. This means that it’s still evolving, and people are far from being able to say with 100% certainty what it can only be used for. In other words, its impact for your search rankings, its performance, and even the demands of using AMP could still change abruptly. Although it’s not the magic bullet to instantly cure all slow-loading site issues, or even the only solution, it’s still worthwhile for designers and developers to spend some time with it. At the very least, AMP serves as a wellspring of potentially new and effective ideas that designers can harness to meaningfully improve page load times across the entire web. The fact that Google has rolled out AMP into its search results pages also provides an opportunity for early user feedback. It’s going to be very interesting to see what the early adapters of this initiative think about the improvement, if any, to the UX of mobile pages. If the results are good, and AMP leads to more traffic and income for big-name sites, you can bet that it’s going to get a bigger push from Google and others than ever. If the opposite happens, then AMP may well not ever get off the ground in any meaningful way. Featured image uses Agustin secret’s speed image.
Marc’s a copywriter who covers design news for Web Designer Depot. Find out more about him at thegloriouscompanyltd.com.
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