The unexpected twist of the AMP Project

Is it still AMP’s goal to uplift the web standards, or there’s something more to it?

“User first, open web forever.”

That’s the vision of the project. User centered, with a goal to “commoditize excellence”. As their team explains, the idea behind the AMP Project is to uplift the web to higher standards by improving one chunk of it at a time.

Until now, AMP was all about the speed. They provided the resources for us to easily improve mobile experience by making it faster. And, they were doing a good job. The average load time for AMP pages on the web right now is less than a second. Not bad at all.

But, that’s all old news. Apparently, the AMP team thought that’s not enough and introduced quite a few surprises on this year’s conference. Read on.

Improving mobile experience

I love the initiatives for better web and mobile first. I actually like to think of them as people first. People in emerging economies get the first access to internet through cheap mobile phones and expensive data service. They deserve a better experience. Or, at least the ability to read the news online without spending their whole monthly income on it.

AMP was solving this problem well for the past 2 years. But, now they’re taking it a step further. They’re not focusing on the speed only anymore. They are focusing on the whole experience.

You know how we’re getting used to interacting with visuals on mobile? They’re engaging and grab our attention. How often do you swipe through Instagram stories when you’re bored? And, how often do you read the news? Exactly.

Introducing, AMP stories. News designed with mobile first in mind. Instead of reading text heavy articles, you’ll now be able stay up to date by swiping through visual stories.

They’re linkable, shareable and act as a regular web page. The stories work well on desktop too, although I’m personally not a fan of their desktop experience. It’s like a slideshow that doesn’t utilize the size of the screen as it could. Still, they are meant for mobile and work amazingly well there.

You can find a lot more info on their official website. They have live stories linked there too, so you can feel the experience yourself.

Accelerated Mobile Emails

Yes, they’re bringing AMP to our inboxes. 🙈

“Many people rely on email for information about flights, events, news, purchases and beyond — more than 270 billion emails are sent each day. With AMP for Email, it’s easy for information in email messages to be dynamic, up-to-date and actionable.” — Aakash Sahney, Product Manager at Gmail

The idea behind this is to make emails more interactive, so users can complete basic actions without leaving their inbox. One scenario: your teammate left you a message on the project’s Trello board and needs your answer. With AMP emails, you’d be able to respond directly without the need to click a link, open the board and type your message.

As Google explains, this is part of the efforts for improving user experience. They want to reduce the back-and-forth when we need to interact with an external application after receiving an email. Now, AMP for email will bring interactive calendars to email messages so we can RSVP with a couple of clicks. Or, up to date flight information, with the option to check in without leaving the email.

Imagine a mini website in your inbox.

This got the internet on fire. It was the tip of the we hate email iceberg. People thought it’s a terrible idea and TechCrunch’s Devin Coldewey elaborated why.

Personally, I’m indifferent to this one. Important emails always come in plain text and I usually ignore HTML promos. I’ll probably keep doing so with AMP, although it could improve the experience for some scenarios. Is it worth the effort? I don’t think so.

Expanding the AMP Ecosystem

OK, this is my favorite. AMP introduced their collaboration with popular CMS-s and e-commerce platforms, to bring better experience in large chunks, as they say. The biggest of which — their collaboration with WordPress. They have a team assembled to perfectionate the AMP plugin, so people can easily set it up on their websites.

“Our work ultimately revolves around the user and content creators, which is why we identify strongly with the AMP project and its mission.” — Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress

I love this effort for two reasons:

  1. Wordpress is the leading CMS that powers millions of websites on the internet. They’re often the number one choice for creating online presence, but the speed has never been their strong side. This collaboration can help improve the experience of millions of users significantly.
  2. Two teams that work on very different projects can still share a vision. It’s fascinating when people recognize that and connect to make far greater impact than they could ever do on their own.

Something has to pay the bills

Ads. They’re annoying and we can’t control them. Ads that engage your machine in crypto-mining while you browse also became a thing.

AMP’s effort to fix this is AMPHTML — ads that don’t rely on javascript execution and give us full control over the content we see. I’d like to see that.

They’re expected to get introduced in Chrome in March.

Get involved

Fun fact: even though most of the code is written by Google employees, 78% of the contributors of the AMP project are not Google developers. The project is open to new contributors and AMP’s team is encouraging new enthusiasts to join.

If you’re interested, check their contribution guide for more details. They sometimes welcome new contributors to their regular weekly hangouts, so you could also get a chance to meet the core team. Sounds exciting!

If you want to get more technical, you can watch the whole conference online or check their official website for more details, docs or news.

Do you think the AMP Project is headed the right way? Share your opinion in the comments below.

Appreciate what you read? Give us an 👏👏👏 and help others find this article.