With everyone on holiday over the summer, we’ve had some time at Time to Change to do a few nice UX improvements that have been on the list for a while. My favourite has been getting the site AMP ready on blogs and news stories.
Working in comms, news sites amping their articles has been really useful for me. When stories break I want to know the details fast, and as a commuter, I’m often on a train with terrible signal when those ‘need to know’ moments happen. Getting quick access from my phone has taken a lot of the frustration out of browsing for information, and gradually I started to think how great it would be if everyone got on board with amp – including us.
Deciding to get started
In April I went to Brighton SEO and heard a talk from Dom Woodman about getting started using amp with Drupal, WordPress and Joomla. The talk was great and gave me the confidence to know we could do it, as well as being a good opportunity to ask questions about wider uptake beyond Google’s ‘top stories’ carousel.
Dom’s advice was to get going and sure enough, a few weeks after we completed the sprint, Google blogged an early preview of their plans to expand amp.
Other benefits along the way
As the Guardian worked in partnership with Google in order to get amp working on their top stories, I picked them as a model for how I wanted it to work on our site. One thing I noticed most prominently was the consistent, engaging use of images in every post. At first I wondered how they were able to incorporate images without compromising the integrity of a high speed article, then I noticed the <amp-img> tag and other similar solutions, which we would also use as part of our own installation.
Previously, feature images weren’t something we’d used very often on the Time to Change site, so this has been a real bonus in getting amp ready and is something we’re now thinking about expanding to other content types across the site.
Installation and testing was fairly standard and took the usual month we allow to get new things done. One compromise we did have using Drupal was that amp is only compatible with page content types, which means our comments module doesn’t pull through to amp articles.
If you’ve recently installed amp yourself, I’d be interested to know how this compares to other CMS’ and I’ll be looking out for how Drupal 8 develops as amp popularity grows.