I hope Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) fail

John Avis by | May 23, 2016 | Computers & Internet Web Development

It's not often I wish such bad fortune on a new innovation but I am wishing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) dies a quick death.
It's not often I wish such bad fortune on a new innovation but I am wishing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) dies a quick death.

It's not that I don't agree that websites should be MUCH more efficient and load quicker.

It's just that I don't agree that this is the way to make it happen.

If you don't already know about AMP, in 25 words or less it's a way of creating web pages that are small and faster loading. AMP pages cannot contain certain HTML (like forms), only include images using a special AMP tag, only allow approved scripts, don't allow external style sheets, and the total page size must be less than 50kb.

The most important thing you need to know about AMP is that Google are backing it, and "supporting" it by making it a ranking factor.

Not that long in the past many of us developers were creating websites that were optimised for a specific resolution, usually a maximum width of 1024 pixels so targeted at desktop screens.

Then mobile browsing became popular and many of us started creating mobile only websites. These were usually cut down versions of the desktop site and were faster less bandwidth hungry (and usually uglier) but meant that we now had to maintain two websites.

Then along came "responsive design" and we were able to create one website for all devices.

Now Google wants us to create AMP versions of all our web pages.

I'm not sure the world wants cut down versions of web pages. As a frequent mobile browser (someone who browses, not something like Internet Explorer) myself, there are times when I appreciate a simple, easy to read alternate mobile only version of a web page, but there are also many times when I can't find some relevant feature on a mobile page that I am used to seeing on the equivalent desktop page. Often enough, I find myself looking for a "view full site" hyperlink.

Given the high rate of technical advances in mobile technology, and the ongoing reduction in cost of mobile data, I hope that AMP might not be relevant.

One-way Web?

As I said earlier in this post, AMP doesn't allow HTML forms. This might be okay for some types of websites, but many websites (possibly most) have a real purpose for forms such as posting a comment on a blog or news website, subscribing to a newsletter, or buying something on an ecommerce website. How do you accommodate this? Move these things to separate pages, and then you would probably want to style them the same as the AMP pages which means you are now maintaining a desktop version of the site, AMP version of the site, and these AMP spin-off pages.

Is your website supported by advertising? Well, only certain advertising platforms' scripts are approved, so hopefully you use one of them and not one of the unsupported platforms. Google AdWords is supported, of course.

Disallowing unapproved scripts mean that you won't be able to add any AJAX either. AMP pretty much makes the web one-way. How 1990s!

So, if I am against AMP, what could Google do instead?

I think they already had some good things going like suggestions for optimisations and improvements in Google Search Console. Telling people what's wrong with their websites and how to fix them is a good step.

Punishing us for producing slow websites, as much as I won't like being a victim, is also probably the right thing to do.

But how about if they got involved in some of these open source systems that are used by so many websites and improving them? I am talking about open source applications such as CMS and eCommerce, many of which are horribly inefficient. And popular open source frameworks like Bootstrap and jQuery.

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by Jansie | January 10, 2017

I kind of feel the same way about it.

When the whole mobile-version-of-your-website thing swept the World Wide Country, I had this uneasy feeling about it. There had to be another way. Creating 2 versions of the same thing? Not optimal.

Responsive design was the better way. One would think it's enough, right?

Seems we're going back a few years with AMP.

I just don't like it.


John Avis

by John Avis | January 10, 2017

What is really scary is that Google are serving AMP pages from their own cache. Maybe that's why they want pages as compact as possible, so they can cache the WWW and serve from their own systems. What does this mean for website analytics? Do we have to add tracking pixels to our pages? See the articles http://searchengineland.com/google-url-for-amp-265344 and https://www.alexkras.com/google-may-be-stealing-your-mobile-traffic/ (nicely titled "Google May Be Stealing Your Mobile Traffic").



by Jansie | January 10, 2017

I read the second article. Sheesh, didn't even think about it from that angle.

I tried implementing AMP on one of our WP sites today. It stinks. They take all the control away from you.

I agree with you that a better angle would be for Google to serve the original site, but give preference to faster sites.

Also, give preference to sites not overloaded with ads and distractions.

That'll pull the industry in the right direction. Force people to rethink their pages, not use a new spin on old tech, which requires you to add GA code, by the way. Smacks of backwards thinking.

If you're up for AMP, you might as well consider going back to serving a desktop edition and mobile edition of your site, on two different URLs, just like the good ol' days.


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