It doesn’t take an expert to know that Australian internet users now demand ultra fast mobile web experiences. Clunky, unreliable connections just won’t do, and Google research shows that 53% of mobile users leave a page that takes longer than 2 seconds to load. Slower than expected internet speeds are a problem that hurts not just users, but businesses and publishers, too.
Enter Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP for short, an open source initiative for web pages aimed at solving the challenge of a slow load time by standardising how pages are built. It does this by placing restrictions on the usage of certain elements, styles and scripts that are known to hinder page performance, for example linking stylesheets (with certain exceptions) or applying image filter styles.
AMP doesn't just strip these non-performant features away, it provides custom elements that replace some of them. For example,
<amp-image src="/cool-image.jpg" width="300" height="200"></amp-image>
This has the handy benefit of providing full support for srcset in browsers that don't natively support it, as well as providing some nice advanced features, like element media queries. AMP also offers fast and free caching via the Google AMP cache, a solid guarantee that the page will perform well. AMP pages are also able to be consumed by third party platforms like the Top Stories carousel on Google Search.
As far as performance is concerned, Pinterest claimed they experienced a 4 times improvement in page load times with 8 times less data than traditional mobile-optimised pages when they implemented AMP back in 2015.
The right solution?
Is AMP really the right solution for the ever growing size of mobile pages?
The answer? It depends.
While AMP is great for content publishers, the strict restrictions mean it's not always the best solution for highly dynamic or experimental sites.
It can also be challenging to maintain an AMP and non-AMP website if AMP wasn’t considered from the start of the project.
So even though AMP isn't necessarily the right solution for all projects, it's certainly an important and necessary step in the right direction for mobile web performance, especially for educating developers and content publishers around the world that faster, leaner sites are better for them - as well as the end user.
At the end of the day, AMP is a great tool to reinforce best practices, but developers need to be responsible and consider page weight right from the start of a project.
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