Have you ever had the experience of spending a painfully long amount of time waiting for what should just be a simple web page to load? It's just a quick news article, after all — mostly text — so why are you watching the loading animation cycle endlessly as your phone struggles to render the content? And even more annoying is when the page finally begins to appear, but not all of it is there yet. You start reading, or go to click a link, and suddenly a photo above has loaded and pushed the content down and off of the screen! Instead of clicking the link you wanted, the page has pulled a bait-and-switch beneath your thumb, and now you've unintentionally clicked an ad leading to an even slower site. Fantastic.
Though we've been in the age of mobile for around a decade now, network data coverage still isn't perfect. Sometimes wifi routers are slow. And web pages can certainly contain a frustrating amount of ads, or even custom scripts hidden from the user that slow the load times. All of these contribute to a poor user-experience. And if anything is counter-productive for page views, it's slow load times. There's got to be a better way, right? Well, Google and a large handful of tech and media partners are working on a new solution to bring you a better, lightning-speed version of the mobile web, and it's called AMP for "Accelerated Mobile Pages."
AMP is an open source project with the goal of creating optimized, instantaneous web pages for the purpose of improving the user-experience of viewing content on a mobile device. In a way, you could kind of think of AMP as the "mobile site" 2.0. AMP works with your existing pages and HTML — with a bit of internal work from your favorite web developer — to load extremely quickly on your mobile browser or application webview. (Seriously, go check it out here, it's absurdly fast). While the AMP project is still ongoing and not yet ubiquitous, Google has made the tools available for any developer who may be interested in getting a head start.
There is, of course, a trade off. AMP isn't magic; It can't just reduce the digital footprint of your page full of ultra high-resolution images, videos, and interactive features. But what it does do is facilitate serving content quickly at the cost of disabling some of this extra weight. As the AMP F.A.Q. puts it, "The goal is not to homogenize how content looks and feels, but instead to build a more common technical core between pages that speeds up load times." This will make all types of popular content better, from news stories to gifs, videos, and blogs. That's a trade-off that I'm sure many can support. I'm willing to bet you're more interested in reading the story behind the headline that caught your attention than to count the sidebar links and ads that clutter the page.
So, where is it now? AMP is still in its infancy, but I'm pretty excited to see where it leads. As mentioned above, Google has enabled developers to begin working on integrating it with their own web pages, and they've also enabled a way for anyone to preview how fast AMP can be. It will take time for AMP to start appearing everywhere, but we can all look forward to hopefully having a faster mobile web experience in the near future.