With almost 200 million smartphone users in the United States, mobile readership has a direct effect on content publishers and the revenue generated by information on the Internet. In response, Google has launched an open source initiative to speed up mobile device access to the Internet. Called the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, it promises to be helpful for publishers; however, its benefit to e-commerce sites may be another matter.
There is a direct link between load speed and revenue. Smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy S7 have enough speed and power that they rival desktop computers. The difference in configuration between a desktop and a mobile device changes the way the sites load on each device. Generally, the template of the site loads first, followed by the content and then the ads and plugins. When the content is slow to appear, the site loses readers before they see the ad. This decreases click-through rates, which is the way most monetized websites calculate income.
AMP uses a specialized form of HTML, unimaginatively called AMP HTML, which caches existing content and loads rich text, video and ad plugins simultaneously. The code was designed to be open framework and created from existing technology, so web designers did not need to revamp their previous work. The creation of this new platform was developed with content providers in mind. News outlets, blogs and vlogs rely on fresh content to drive viewership. E-commerce sites work differently, so AMP HTML only offers benefits under specific conditions.
Content Versus Shopping Cart
Most e-commerce websites use some form of plugin to drive the shopping cart. This plugin is generally embedded into a larger website template. Whether or not AMP helps load speeds depends on the other information in the template. If businesses have a static page with a lot of content and the shopping cart on a second page, then AMP will help it load faster. AMP captures viewers and drives them to the cart because they are already engaged and primed to make a purchase. If the cart is on the homepage and is dynamic, however, then AMP makes no difference to load speed.
The powerful content management system Joomla! has a module which automatically converts your pages to Accelerated Mobile Pages HTML markup on the fly. The relatively new module has little feedback to date, but it is certainly worth a try. The module’s developers promise a simple, elegant base template which allows you to override any part of the output usingJoomla! JLayouts.
Whether businesses are using the downloadable version or the hosted form, WordPress is the most common website platform in the world, with users writing 17 posts every second, according to Torque. Recently, WordPress developers have created plugins to drive the AMP code. The plugins promise drop-and-go compatibility, claiming that a tag at the end of the code will fully enable AMP.
Reviews on these plugins are mixed. For sites that were already Google optimized, it seems to work well, but for websites with customization, the plugins glitch in compatibility.
Open Platform Resources
Because it is new and open to any developer, Google has created a Github repository for code snippets. Many of these code pieces are created as workarounds for compatibility issues between site platforms, themes and Google. Others bring in ads and carts to AMP sites. For developers that rely heavily on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to optimize site speed, AMP is compatible and the repository has great add-ons for existing CSS templates. This is a good resource for new AMP coders to get their feet wet.