to amp or not to amp?

In January 2007 Apple introduced the iphone. It wasn’t the first phone to have an integrated web browser, but it was the first to deliver desktop quality browsing on a mobile device. At that time the web world wasn’t ready for mobile browsing, sites were designed for desktops, they looked tiny and often terrible on mobiles.

As mobile browsing surged, businesses responded. Sites using Flash (which was unsupported on iphone) were modified or replaced. Separate mobile and desktop sites were developed and the web community got busy coming up with solutions for delivering their content on mobiles, tablets and desktops.

Then came responsive design. A single, neat solution to allow a single website to automatically adapt its design to suit the device it was being viewed on. We designed our first responsive site in 2010 and didn’t look back, it’s not a perfect solution, but pretty darn good. So, problem solved surely?

Actually no, Google thinks a new solution is necessary.

Accelerated Mobile Pages, AMP

Google felt that the mobile experience needed improvement and at the end of 2015 introduced the Accelerated Mobile Pages project.

“For many, reading on the mobile web is a slow, clunky and frustrating experience – but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.”

AMP are designed specifically for mobile devices, they are built using a very stripped down version of HTML (governed by the open source AMP standard) and will load in any browser. As a stripped down form of code it is restrictive in what it allows (limited javascript, inline CSS), but this allows AMP to deliver a clean, streamlined experience for mobile users. But the main advantage is speed, as AMP are so light they are very fast loading, plus Google caches AMP in the cloud to further reduce load times.

Time for AMP?

There are some drawbacks to AMP such as the restricted functionality and the fact that the AMP standard is likely to evolve, meaning AMP developers will need to keep sites ‘up to standard’. However Google are backing this initiative and many businesses and organisations have created AMP, including the likes of the BBC, The Guardian and The Telegraph. So it certainly looks like AMP are here to stay and the age of multiple sites is back… responsive, AMP, mobile apps…

Should you consider having an AMP for your business? Well that depends on how important the mobile experience is to you and your customers. Certainly AMP perform better in Google Search and deliver a better user experience. Plus there is an opportunity for early adopters to get ahead of the competition. In the end AMP are another tool in your marketing toolkit, worth considering certainly, but not necessarily an essential. The good news is that creating AMP can be simple and doesn’t have to break the bank. We have all the skills to create AMP in-house in our Devizes studio.

If you’d like to know more about AMP, whether you should consider them, and the costs involved, please get in touch.

Written by. Richard Jaggs

Richard Jaggs