AMP: Powering a frictionless, digital front door

AMP is a powerful framework for mobile, desktop and tablet, and for stories, ads and email. It’s a framework – purpose-built for the entire web ecosystem, including healthcare.

AMP officially launched in early 2016 as Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google-led open source project. It was initially focused on the publishing industry, and at its launch AMP was touted in the media as Google’s open source answer to Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News.


Since its launch, AMP has continued to evolve and mature. The name for the project has officially changed from Accelerated Mobile Pages to simply AMP, in part representing how the project has grown beyond a tool to increase the performance of the mobile web and become a framework to build for the entire internet across desktop, tablets and mobile.

In May 2019, the AMP project published a post explaining the concept of AMP as a framework and how the project has moved beyond its Accelerated Mobile Pages beginnings:

  • Accelerated – AMP is not simply accelerated. The includes UX advantages such as disallowing interstitials and enforcing a free main thread for smooth interactions.
  • Mobile – Its responsive design features work across many device types from desktop to mobile screens.
  • Pages – AMP has evolved beyond pages to also build ads, emails and stories.

AMP is no longer focused on publishers and mobile. It’s now for desktop, marketers, e-commerce, and healthcare systems looking to deliver a customer-first experience.

AMP as a framework has come about at the perfect time in the evolution of web development. It’s a mature and robust platform – similar to Angular, Vue or React – to build on for the entire web ecosystem while solving the slow-mobile experience challenge.

The web wasn’t built for today’s mobile world and its small touch screens, battery-powered CPUs and intermittent network connections. And Responsive Web Design has passed its shelf life. Healthcare systems face the challenge of consumers shifting from desktop to mobile, a transition that’s accelerated as a result of the COVID pandemic. The result is legacy responsive websites that are just too slow on mobile and don’t match consumer expectations.

Building for a mobile-first world can be a challenge, but AMP solves for speed in a number of ways:

  • Circumvents the slow server issue by using a cache – or CDN – for distribution.
  • Because pages are pre-fetched by Google, network traffic happens in the background before users click, allowing pages to load instantly even for slow or intermittent mobile connections.
  • Google automatically provides prefetching on the Search Engine Response Pages (SERPs), and a PWA can provide the feature on any website.
  • While a single JavaScript or CSS file can block the critical rendering path, turning a website into a blank screen while files are downloaded, AMP’s built-in validator ensures nothing blocks the critical rendering path.
  • Sets guardrails of a maximum of 50 kilobytes of CSS to avoid large stylesheets that cause slow loading websites.
  • Optimizing images for mobile is challenging due to different screen sizes and pixel densities, and varying support for next-generation image formats. AMP automates image resizing, lazy-loading, place holding and distributing the correct, next-generation formats – all served from the AMP cache.
  • Third-party software scripts handling personalization, analytics or customization can bring a website to a crawl. AMP uses the world’s largest components library – with built-in features – to run or replicate third-party scripts, while guaranteeing speed.
Old Way New Way
Slow Servers Serve from cache to combat slow servers
Slow Mobile Connections AMPs are prefetched to create instant load
Blocked Critical Rendering Path Built-in validator ensures nothing blocks critical rendering path
Append-Only Style Sheets AMP sets guardrails, including a CSS budget, to ensure long-term performance
Slow Images AMP automatically re-sizes and configures images to the correct, next-generation formats
Third-Party Scripts AMP has built-in components to create fully features pages that guarantee speed

While bells and whistles are great, speed is paramount for a frictionless digital front door. AMP is built on ensuring performance and taking an AMP-first approach is ideal for healthcare systems that are focused on speed and delivering the best possible user experience. The project may have begun with a focus on publishers, but it has evolved far beyond its early aims. AMP is still a solid SEO play, but it has become a development framework for the entire internet, especially healthcare systems rethinking the role of digital.