AMP vs Responsive Web Design

mobile website

amp-vs-rwdWhat’s the difference between Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages and a responsive mobile website?

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Responsive Web Design (RWD) both use the same basic building blocks for creating a mobile page: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. So how are they different? Let’s take a look at AMP vs a responsive mobile website.

First off, what is AMP?

The AMP Project, started by Google, has been working hard to develop a highly optimized method for delivering content to mobile devices. These “Accelerated Mobile Pages” utilize a number of optimization techniques for lightning-fast load times. AMP is a highly specialized way of making super-fast mobile web pages.

How does AMP differ from Responsive Web Design?

Accelerated mobile pages and responsive websites will both work on a mobile phone, but the AMP Project and Responsive Web Design have different goals.

  • Responsive Web Design is a method of organizing and designing a website so that it works on any device, from a desktop computer to a mobile phone. It could be said that RWD is focused on flexibility.
  • The AMP Project is a web framework designed for delivering content to mobile users instantly. AMP is focused on speed. Malte Ubl, Google’s Tech Lead for the AMP Project, wrote a great summary of why AMP is fast.

What other ways are AMP and RWD different?

AMP can work with an existing website, RWD would replace a current website

There’s no need to replace an existing website with AMP. While it is possible to use AMP exclusively, AMP can also be added to an existing non-responsive (or responsive) website, without a site re-design. In contrast, implementing RWD requires a website re-design, effectively replacing an existing website.

AMP currently only works with static content, RWD can be used for any website

For now, the ideal use for AMP is news articles, blog entries, informational pages, and other published content. RWD  is better equipped for things like web forms and custom applications.

How do AMP and RWD affect user experience?

Pragmatically speaking, a good user experience is good for business. Provide a good user experience and people are more likely to trust your organization, engage with your website, and share it with their friends.

Google’s search algorithm is designed to favor websites that provide a good user experience. To that end, Google has identified two primary indicators of a good user experience on mobile: the so-called “mobile-friendly” test (remember Mobilegeddon?), and speed.

Responsive Web Design may help deliver a mobile friendly website, but RWD often fails miserably on speed. This failure is not by design, but by lack thereof.

AMP on the other hand was designed from the ground up to be highly optimized for speed and mobile user experience. The AMP Project was created by Google, and AMP gives us a very clear definition of what a fast, mobile-friendly experience looks like according to Google. Those who rely on Google for website traffic, take note.

Does my website need Accelerated Mobile Pages?

AMP solves a very specific problem: delivering mobile-friendly published content as fast as possible. For websites delivering published content to mobile users, AMP will very likely provide a better user experience faster than anything else out there. However, AMP is not full-featured enough for websites that rely on web forms and custom JavaScript functionality.

At WompMobile, our focus is helping clients deliver fast, user-friendly mobile experiences. We’re excited about AMP, and we’ve leveraged our years of experience in optimizing mobile websites to create a platform for adding AMP to existing websites. Contact us to learn more.

 

  • Malte Ubl

    TL of AMP here. I don’t think AMP and RWD are something one has to decide between. AMP is from the ground up designed to support responsive design and that is the best way to use it. On the other hand as a new project it seems a bit early to ask everyone “Redo you entire website in this new unproven technology”. That is why most implementers with large established websites will add AMP as another output channel – but if I start a blog or similar in 2016 there is no reason why I could not go all in on AMP on all devices.

    • Hey Malte, thanks for the comment! In comparing AMP and RWD, my goal is to help folks who are evaluating these approaches for making their existing websites mobile-friendly.

      In the article I state, “AMP can work *with* an existing website, RWD would *replace* a current website.” The “existing website” could also be responsive, I’ve edited to make that more clear.