Mobile devices and the mobile internet in general have greatly increased consumer’s access to websites. However, because of their small screen and relatively slower computing speeds, the web experience for mobile users is often diminished in order to ensure that pages load quickly and that visual elements that won’t work on mobile devices aren’t displayed. Google hopes to change that with their new AMP story format which provides content publishers with a mobile-focused format for delivering news and information as visually rich, tap-through stories.
This new format isn’t intended to replicate the content on the main site. Rather, these visual AMP stories are designed to be mobile-only content. This was elaborated on more by a Google representative who spoke to Search Engine Land about the new feature.
“The collective desire was that this format offer new, creative and visually rich ways of storytelling specifically designed for mobile” explained the Google Rep. “AMP stories is all about encouraging new forms of expression and storytelling, so we expect most publishers to not be already publishing this kind of content out on the web currently. AMP stories is meant to facilitate this and make it easier.”
Google worked closely with many different content publishers to make AMP Stories as helpful to content creators and mobile visitors as possible. Speaking to Search Engine Land, The Washington Post’s Lead Product Manager Dave Merrell said that the ideal candidate for AMP Story treatment is “a highly compelling and visual story that you can tell in a few slides.” He also thinks video within AMP Stories will be “a primary driver of engagement” for users.
Google sees AMP Stories as a way to allow publishers to create stunning, visual mobile content without having to spend the large amount of development costs usually needed to create this kind of experience. The architecture setup by Google for AMP makes it easy to create high-quality content that doesn’t reduce the site to annoying slow scenes.
AMP stories are built on the technical infrastructure of AMP to provide a fast, beautiful experience on the mobile web. Just like any web page, a publisher hosts an AMP story HTML page on their site and can link to it from any other part of their site to drive discovery. And, as with all content in the AMP ecosystem, discovery platforms can employ techniques like pre-renderable pages, optimized video loading and caching to optimize delivery to the end user.
The AMP story project is still starting up, but it’s now free and open for anyone to use. To get started, website developers should check out the tutorial and documentation on Google. The company is still accepting feedback from content creators and technical contributors so early adopters will have a chance to influence the direction of this new feature.
Consumers can see AMP stories on Google Search now for the first time as well. To see how some of the publishers who participated during the trial period used AMP stories, search for publisher names (like CNN, Conde Nast, Hearst, Mashable, Meredith, Mic, Vox Media, and The Washington Post) within g.co/ampstories using your mobile browser.
Implementing AMP stories may be a challenge for content creators because it will involve creating specialized content for the format. However, the promise of creating more engaging mobile experiences may make it worth the effort.
To read more about recent changes to Google, read this article on Google’s new tool to help marketers improve the speed and quality of their mobile sites.