Twenty years ago, people were willing to wait several minutes for webpages to load. Of course, we didn’t have much of a choice back then, given that most of us typically browsed the Internet over a 56K modem.
Today, web users are far less patient, especially if they’re browsing on mobile devices. But the good news is that Google has recently introduced a new initiative, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which will reduce mobile loading times even further than what we’ve seen with mobile sites and responsive design.
The benefits of Google's AMP
Increasing the speed of your mobile website should be one of your prime concerns. Google has recognized that streamlining the delivery of content on mobile devices is a top priority for 2016, which is why it's prioritized finding a new solution for its global users.
As a result, Google introduced AMP last October. The goal of this project is pretty self-explanatory -- increasing the speed of media-rich web pages that are accessed on mobile devices.
But how will Accelerated Mobile Pages affect your brand? Here are five ways:
1. Reduce bounce rates
Slow load times are one of the biggest reasons that users abandon websites. Unfortunately, they aren’t any more forgiving on mobile devices than on desktops.
According to the Benchmarking Mobile Performance: Page Load Time report, bounce rates for sites that take five seconds or more to load are 10 percent higher than for sites that load more quickly. Since AMP will increase loading speeds, bounce rates should drop noticeably.
2. Lift conversion rates
Slow load times also negatively affect conversion rates. Research from Radware shows that every extra second a mobile webpage takes to load causes conversion rates to drop by 3.5 percent.
Brands that utilize Accelerated Mobile Pages may be pleasantly surprised to see their conversion rates rise.
3. Increase publisher revenue
Brands want to get their messages in front of engaged users, but clearly their ads have a much stronger impact on websites that load quickly and provide viewers with a seamless experience. For this reason, they’ll probably pay more to publish their ads on platforms that use Accelerated Mobile Pages.
4. Distribute content on a more global scale
The Official Google Blog states that encouraging the distribution of content is always one of its number one priorities. To that end, one of the goals of AMP is to enable publishers to easily share their content on a global scale.
“Publishers want people to enjoy the great journalism they create anywhere and everywhere, so stories or content produced in Spain can be served in an instant across the globe in, say, Chile. That means distribution across all kinds of devices and platforms is crucial. So, as part of this effort, we’ve designed a new approach to caching that allows the publisher to continue to host their content while allowing for efficient distribution through Google's high performance global cache.”
This statement suggests that Google may in the future automatically translate content into a user’s own language, making it easier for that user to absorb content published on foreign sites.
5. Little extra work
If all this sounds complex, rest assured that Google has tried to minimize the learning curve for publishers who use AMP by relying on existing technologies, such as WordPress and other CMS tools. You shouldn’t run into many issues as long as you are familiar with these tools and are proficient with HTML (or have somebody on your team who is).
How do you get started with AMP?
AMP is an open source tool that you import into your site. Google is requesting that all websites participate in the project, though it’s obviously up to you whether or not to get involved.
In October the project started accepting trial users, which included large brands such as ChartBeat, Twitter, and Vox. It has since been opened up to all other users.
Here are some tips if you want to join them and get on the Accelerated Mobile Pages bandwagon yourself:
Get the HTML script. If you want to benefit from Google AMP, you must embed the HTML script into your web pages. The script needs to be embedded into every page, and you can copy it from the Accelerated Mobile Pages website.
If you’re using a CMS, you can download an AMP app instead. WordPress developers, for example, have introduced a plugin that allows publishers to create Accelerated Mobile Pages content.
The current plugin can only be used to create blog posts, meaning that you’ll still need to manually copy and paste the AMP script into WordPress pages.
Start developing content. Once you’ve installed your AMP plugin, you can start creating content. What types of content does the project allow? Here’s an excerpt from the AMP site: “The goal is for all published content, from news stories to videos and from blogs to photographs and GIFs, to work using Accelerated Mobile Pages.”
The key word here is "goal." Keep in mind that the project is still a work in progress, so you may run into some bugs with some types of content -- which brings us to our next point...
Share feedback on GitHub. Google is hosting discussions about the project through GitHub, where users share feedback to ensure the best possible experience. Google’s developers say they’ll strive to address every technical problem they can to improve the project, but they can’t do it unless publishers give this feedback in the first place.
Improve Mobile User Experience
Your users expect you to deliver content as efficiently as possible, but this can be a challenge on smartphones and other mobile devices, where multimedia loads more slowly. Google’s new Accelerated Mobile Pages project should make a huge difference, and all you have to do to benefit is install a few lines of code.
Have you started developing Accelerated Mobile Pages? If so, have you seen a difference in your website’s performance? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below: