Web readers want pages to load fast. Sadly, one piece of content hosted on the average website has more data on it than a Russian novel.
Google knows (because Google knows everything) that in order to accelerate usage of the internet on phones and tablets, it needs to decrease page bloat. It convened a coalition of publishers to write a new specification for content sites when they load on mobile, called Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP. AMP ready sites get a nod from Google (it’s not clear if the search engine favors them, but it lets users know which pages will load fast in results). The Observer previously explained how optimizing the most important pieces of content through the AMP standard improves the user experience on mobile.
“We’re committed to adopting all technologies that help people share there content wherever people are reading it,” founder and CEO Anthony Casalena told the Observer in a phone call. Squarespace is a content management system easy for non-coders to use that provides a wide array of attractive designs ready for all kinds of users, at affordable prices.
Today, the company made Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages available to all of its customers. Squarespace has been working on deploying the standard over the last two or three months, Casalena said.
Current Squarespace customers will need to go into their settings and enable AMP. “We didn’t want people’s experience to change out from under them,” Casalena said. Later, it may turn the feature on by default for new customers, however.
Squarespace has been built from the start to really structure all of its attributes, which made it fairly straightforward for the company to implement the guidelines for its sites.
AMP works best for blogs and media oriented sites. The Washington Post testified that its AMP enabled pages load four times faster on mobile. It may not make sense for people hosting ecommerce sites, for example, to enable the feature. The Google initiative is a bit of an end run around the World Wide Web Consortium, which normally convenes working groups to write standards to address widespread problems online, but Facebook did it first, with Instant Articles.
“I guess in an ideal world you wouldn’t even have AMP. The server would know how to send to each platform,” Casalena said. “It’s definitely a bridging technology. I don’t think it will be around forever.”
Wikipedia found ways to increase page load speeds and saw immediate results in the developing world, where internet users pay for every kilobyte.
Most of the web has become a fat mess, as former New York Times staff writer Virginia Heffernan documents in gleeful detail in her new book, Magic and Loss. With so much bandwidth and so few limits, website designers have seemed to think the more navigation the better. Then mobile came along. “I think the two ecosystems kind of instruct each,” Casalena said. After mobile, web designers had to start thinking about how sites would respond on tiny little screens. First, responsive design came and started jostling content around to fit different window sizes. AMP took it to the next level, stripping data out and changing the order in which it got served.
“I think it’s been kind of positive for the web as a whole,” Casalena said. “You’re really forced to look at your message and make it more linear.”