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Revisiting the question of catering to smartphones again

August 21, 2016

Accelerated Mobile Pages, Facebook Instant Articles

I gave some suggestions for catering to site visitors via smartphone in a July post, but I missed two big options for 2016.

I’ve spent part of this summer trying out both options, ones you may already be familiar with from a user standpoint. We should all implement Accelerated Mobile Pages and Facebook Instant Articles, if only to try them out.

Both serve the biggest audience, mobile users. Both strip away extra coding and bandwidth hogs to provide lean, fast-loading pages. Both require effort to implement, though in the end, the code does most of the work.

Accelerated Mobile Pages is an open source project, allowing for developers and webmasters to implement faster-loading versions of posts and pages. We typically stumble upon them in Google searches, as the company designates AMP articles with a lightning bolt.

Video: Intro to AMP

On my existing sites, accessing the posts and pages on a mobile device brings up either a responsive theme or a mobile-only theme. But at least a couple of sites are ready to go with Accelerated Mobile Pages.

I used the free official WordPress plugin, AMP. It handles posts but not pages yet.

To see the AMP version of any blog post (even from desktop browsers), add “/amp” to the end of a URL. For example, here’s the most recent post in standard and AMP forms:

Because Birmingham Blogging Academy is a site, AMP is built in.

Visitors won’t typically hit AMP posts directly. But for those searching online, Google will feature sites optimized with AMP prominently in results.

Facebook Instant Articles takes more work. It requires implementation on the backend of a site, as well as set-up within a Facebook page. WPBeginner has a guide to installing this feature on self-hosted WordPress sites.

Video: Introducing Facebook Instant Articles

The biggest tradeoff is ceding traffic to Facebook, which caches a version of a site’s original post.

For WordPress site, multiple plugins offer the ability to add Facebook Instant Articles. I use the free Allfacebook Instant Articles plugin.

To see the Facebook Instant Articles from Y’all Connect, visit the Y’all Connect Facebook page using a smartphone and scroll to a post marked with a lightning bolt (a catchy icon). Click the update to see a Y’all Connect post in Facebook Instant Articles.

These are the hoops we need to jump through in 2016 to embrace our mobile audience. And we’ll have more hoops to cross as the web shapes itself around an audience on the go with quicker questions and less time.

Try Accelerated Mobile Pages and Facebook Instant Articles to meet this group halfway.

More on catering to mobile audiences.

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