1. Eric Enge: Can you provide an overview of AMP?
Ben Morss: AMP is a library that you can use to build websites that are faster and easier for users. It’s often faster and easier for developers too. AMP is an initiative that was started by Google about three years ago, in collaboration with a group of publishers.
Originally, it was designed for static sites such as news sites, but now it’s more full-featured. Key components have been added that weren’t there before, such as <amp-list> and <amp-bind>. These let you make sites that are more interactive.
AMP was created because it was felt that most web sites were too slow and complicated. It may not be as important if you’re in the US on a costly phone and a 4G connection, but in many situations and especially some countries, a 3G connection is the best you get. AMP also doesn’t allow intrusive ads, and it also prevents content jumping around on screens because you describe the size of all the objects in advance.
By the way, 40% of the world’s connections are actually on 2G. For these people, the traditional web is not even that usable at all. Lastly, AMP was originally designed for mobile, but now works just fine on desktop as well.
2. Eric Enge: Can you describe what Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are?
Ben Morss: PWAs are a collection of technologies and best practices to make sites better for users. For example, a PWA should still work when a user is offline or has a poor connection. Users can also add your site to their phone home screen. A PWA keeps an app shell present at all times, so there is no full-page load when you go to a new page. Content from new pages gets served into that shell, and that helps with overall speed and user experience. A PWA can be full screen on your phone (i.e. no URL bars as you see with a web site).
Generally, PWAs feel more like an app on your phone. They’ve also been arriving on desktops running Windows or Chrome OS. Many of these features are made possible by a web standard called Service Workers. The service worker preloads commonly used elements and caches them before users call for them. Since it can cache content, a PWA can work offline. Service workers also run apart from the browser, making it possible to send users push notifications. And, of course, as new HTML5 features get into browsers, it’s possible to access more and more phone features from the web.
All of this enables new features for your site, but you don’t have to use everything. Pick and choose the PWA features that are useful for you. For example, push notifications can be an irritant to users if you overuse them, so use them with care.