Just What Are Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)?

Google recently released its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, an architectural framework for making mobile websites faster. The goal is to make web pages load nearly instantly on mobile devices. This is primarily done by limiting what you can do on these web pages.

AMP HTML

In order to standardize these limitations, a new subset of HTML has been created by the AMP Project called AMP HTML. This specification disallows certain HTML elements, while adding a few of its own.

The limitations included in AMP HTML are:

  • No JavaScript except that provided by the AMP Project.
  • No forms or input fields
  • All styles must be in one style tag which is limited to 50kb
  • No external stylesheets or inline stylesheets

This is a large set of limitations, which basically means that your page must have a fairly simple design, and it limits advanced functionality. This fits with the goal of AMP, which is explicitly targeted at content pages only. The idea being that the content is displayed with much else to slow it down.

Extensions can be created which will allow additional functionality, but these extensions must be submitted to the AMP Project and approved before they can be used. At the current state there are extensions for embedding Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.

Ads are in a similar boat and must be approved before they can be used. The current list of approved ad providers includes: A9, AdReactor, AdSense, AdTech and Doubleclick.

Going Forward

At this early stage, it is hard to say what the benefits will be and how much adoption the framework will receive. AMP content is static and can easily be cached or mirrored for optimal delivery to users. Google has stated that it will provide a cache that can be used by anyone at no cost, although you are not required to use Google’s cache.

Since the platform is for content only, E-commerce sites will not be able to benefit from it for their product pages. This also goes for any sites that require the user to enter data, so it will need to be determined on a case by case basis if AMP has a place in your site. News and Blog sites are the primary target for this initiative and stand to receive the most benefit.

Integrating AMP into CMSs will play a large role in easing adoption for less technical users. So far only WordPress.com has announced that it will integrate the AMP framework into their CMS.

The Accelerated Mobile Pages project is still in its early stages and bound to change before it becomes an established specification.

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