Mobile applicationsNewsWebsite development

Speed up the web with Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages

By November 16, 2015 No Comments

Google AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or “AMP,” is Google’s response to Instant Articles from Facebook and News from Apple. AMP aims to strip down web pages — specifically content pages like written articles — to their bare bones, allowing for the shortest possible load time. One major benefit of Google’s solution compared to the competing options is that it is open source, allowing it to take input from the community.

Slow-loading websites can be a huge problem and lead to significant bounce rates. According to research from Soasta, mobile pages with a 3.3 second load time have less than a 1.5% conversion rate. Pages that were just one second faster experienced a 27 percent conversion rate. So a website’s load time — particularly on mobile — has a huge impact on conversion rates, and with more and more people using their phones to access the web, it’s more important than ever to keep sites lean.

So how does AMP work? It speeds up sites by restricting them to a subset of HTML and places significant limitations on Javascript. In other words, it slims down the number of tools developers and web site creators have at their disposal to render content. Much of the typical web page’s code is for the branding, layout, and advertisements (if any). AMP strips most of that away in the interest of a fast, standardized experience.

JavaScript is not inherently bad but can greatly increase load times if not used efficiently. Take popular site The Verge, for example–it has over 7mb of JavaScript in 107 different files. 7mb of JavaScript is asking a lot of people to read an article. Especially if they are using limited cellular data. Restricting JavaScript will affect ads that rely on it. Since AMP does not allow JavaScript, all ads must be embedded in an iFrame. This helps prevent any slowdown from an ad relying on the JavaScript method document.write. AMP keeps ads at the bottom of the loading-priority stack so they are the last thing to load.

This, of course, has some interesting long-term implications for the ad-supported content business, but that’s a juicy subject for another post!

Another way AMP decreases load time is by making use of prerendering. AMP is built from the ground up to be pre-renderable. Pre-rendering enables a page to load first with what is immediately in the user’s view, along with any elements that are not CPU-intensive. There is no point in wasting precious time loading content that the user can’t even see.

Lastly, AMP takes advantage of Google’s high-performance global cache free of charge (or you could use your own system if you would prefer). This allows the page to be served to the user’s device from the geographically closest server for the best possible speed.

Competition is a great thing and I am glad to hear about another method that will hopefully improve the speed of the web. Will Google’s AMP be the answer? Only time will tell, but it definitely has potential.


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