How AMP Stories Help In Visual Storytelling On The Open Web

AMP Stories immerse your readers in fast-loading full-screen experiences. Easily create visual narratives with engaging animations and tappable interactions. The AMP Story format is accessible for free and part of the open web and is available for everyone to try on their websites. They can be shared and embedded across the web without being confined to a closed ecosystem or platform.

Of course, some stories are best told with text, while others are best expressed through images and videos. Users browse many articles on mobile devices but engage with a few in-depth ones. Usually, photos, videos, and graphics help publishers to get their readers’ attention as quickly as possible and keep them engaged through immersive and easily consumable visual information.

Recently, as with many new or experimental features within AMP, contributors from multiple companies — in this case, Google and a group of publishers—came together to work toward building a story-focused format in AMP. For your information, the collective desire was that this format offer new, creative, and visually rich ways of storytelling specifically designed for mobile devices.

Therefore, the AMP Story Format is a recently launched addition to the AMP Project that provides content publishers with a mobile-focused format for delivering news and information as visually rich, tap-through stories. In other words, AMP is a web component framework to create user-first experiences for the web easily. So, let’s first learn more about its crucial role in content delivery.

AMP Is A Framework That Amplifies The Website Page User Experience

Before you Get Started With AMP, it’s worth mentioning that AMP is a simple and robust web components framework that makes it easy to build fast websites that are user-first and make money. AMP provides long-term success for your web strategy with distribution across popular platforms and reduced operating costs. It’s a framework that offers webmaster grab-and-go components.

As a rule of thumb, AMP is an open-source development project. This means it’s built by the community, for the community with the OpenJS foundation. There are many ways to contribute, including implementing features, fixing bugs, and writing documentation! Select a ready-to-go framework or integration-enabled CMS to get an AMP-valid website up and running fast.

In layman’s language, the AMP Project meets you exactly where you are. Whether building a site from scratch, using a CMS, or optimizing an in-house solution, AMP can help! Perse’s built-in validation system offers tips for your development process, ensuring your page is performant and user-first. It comes with built-in accessibility and compatibility across web browsers.

On that note, AMP Stories are built on the technical infrastructure of AMP to provide a fast, beautiful experience for mobile application users. Like any web page, a publisher hosts an AMP story HTML page and can link to it from any other part of their website to drive discovery. At the same time, this helps to minimize technical challenges for content creators’ storytelling focus.

Understanding What The AMP Stories Are All About For Content Creators

AMP Stories offers a visual-driven format for evolving news consumption on mobile. Technically, AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages  and was introduced by Google in October 2015. Furthermore, AMP is an open-source custom web development framework to drive responsive mobile content. Not to mention, created to speed up the loading time of web pages on mobile.

Google’s AMP stories features allow publishers to create content similar to Instagram stories, designed with mobile websites in mind. But, the content created with AMP doesn’t end up on apps. Instead, it’s placed in search results pages. So, AMP is an open-source project created because mobile users now spend more time on application platforms than websites.

Most spend 77% of their time, to be exact, according to Statista data on the immersive AMP versions. With AMP, content loads extremely fast, which helps keep mobile users on those pages and off of their apps. Instead of regular search engine results, users receive a swipeable story that’s easy to navigate. The UX is somewhat similar to the popular dating app such as Tinder and the like.

By all means, AMP Stories provide content publishers with a mobile-focused format for delivering news and information as visually rich, tap-through stories. In addition, AMP Stories offers a robust set of advertising opportunities for advertisers and publishers. Particularly to reach a unique target and potential audience on the World Wide Web (WWW) with immersive experiences.

This is where AMP Stories comes in:
  • Solve problems on the suitable layer: For example, don’t integrate things on the client side just because that is easier when the user experience would be better with a server-side integration.
  • Only do things if they can be made fast: Don’t introduce components or features to AMP that can’t reliably run at 60fps or hinder the instant load experience on today’s most common mobile devices.
  • Prioritize things that improve the user experience: You can still compromise when needed. Some items can be made fast and are still a terrible user experience. AMPs should deliver a fantastic user experience; speed is just one part.

On the one hand, the AMP Design Principles are meant to guide ongoing design and development stages. On the other hand, they should help us make internally consistent decisions. And when in doubt, do what’s best for the end-user experience. Even if it means it’s harder for the page creator to build or for the library developer to implement. The AMP Project Developers made AMP a library.

Specifically, they focused on the spirit of the EXTENSIBLE WEB MANIFESTO to be able to fix the web of today, not the web of tomorrow. AMP should be fast in today’s browsers. And, as with all content in the AMP ecosystem, discovery platforms can employ techniques like pre-renderable pages, optimized video loading, and caching to optimize the delivery of the best end-user experience.

The overall benefits are as follows:
  1. Create Beautiful and Engaging Content Easily: Usually, the AMP stories make producing stories as easy as possible from a technical perspective.
  2. Creative Flexibility for Editorial Freedom and Branding: The AMP stories format has preset but flexible layout templates, standardized UI controls, and components for sharing and adding follow-on content.
  3. Sharable and Linkable on the Open Web: Markedly, the AMP stories are part of the open web and can be shared and embedded across sites and apps without being confined to a single ecosystem.
  4. Track and Measure: Accelerated Mobile Pages for AMP Story supports analytics and bookend capabilities for viral sharing and monetization.
  5. Fast Loading Times: AMP Stories are lightning-fast, so your audience stays engaged and entertained.
  6. Immersive Storytelling: In other words, AMP Stories is a new and modern way to reach existing readers.
  7. Robust Advertising Support: AMP Stories enables monetization capability for publishers using full-screen immersive story ads and using affiliate links. For advertisers, Stories can reach a unique audience within a new storytelling experience.

In simple terms, the AMP Project is an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all. Accelerated Mobile Pages enable web experiences that are consistently fast, beautiful, and high-performing across distribution platforms. Furthermore, the Official Accelerated Mobile Pages Plugin for WordPress supports fully integrated AMP publishing for WordPress websites.

The AMP framework offers webmaster grab-and-go components. So they can quickly build pages with AMP’s extensive component library. Still, the pieces are copy-and-pastable and meet various User Interface (UI) Design and User Experience (UX) Design functionality needs. They are customizable in behavior and style through attributes and CSS. Best of all, they have great engineers.

These engineers are working full-time behind the scenes to guarantee excellent performance. Their development platforms give you all the benefits of AMP without all the built-from-scratch hassle. Below are a few more reasons why it sticks.

1. Seamless Integration

For your information, AMP Partners include CNN, Mic, Wired, The Washington Post, Mashable, and People. Beyond loading at lightning-fast speeds, AMP Stories can also be shared in the same way news articles are shared. Still, Story Ads are full-screen, single-page ads that appear within AMP Stories—content publishers and advertisers can invite users to a web page.

Or rather, they can invite them to an AMP page or an app with a single tap. A story ad has a rich, flexible canvas that allows images, videos, animations, or a combination of all those elements—supported by Google Ad Manager and Google DV360 (Beta). With additional ad server support coming soon! You can Signup Now for free—to start building AMP Stories moving forward.

2. Rich Media Content

AMP stories are built with visually rich media; whether you utilize pictures, videos, or GIF assets is up to you. Images and videos expand to visually fill the readers’ screens, providing a smooth and thoroughly engaging experience. AMP allows you to specify the file type to account for the user’s network connection and browser capabilities. But specific optimizations aren’t always possible.

As such, with today’s platform, AMP developers should participate in standards development to get these added to the web platform. Ensure that if AMP has outages or problems, it doesn’t hurt the rest of the web. That means if the Google AMP Cache, the URL API, or the library fails, it should be possible for websites and consumption apps to degrade gracefully.

3. Various Content Formats

Convey facts and figures via bite-sized chunks of one or two sentences–ideal for mobile devices. Choose from different font colors for essential readability. Or add visual elements like subtle black transparent gradient overlays to ensure readability. Even on random background imagery, for example, user-generated content when targeting mobile users.

On top of this, you can use short audio files on every page to provide spoken information or background music. And, as mentioned, if something works with an AMP cache, it should also work without one.

4. Limitless User Interactions

It’s easy to create visual effects and tappable interactions that keep readers engaged. Titles can fly drop, fade in, or animate onto the page. Configure your story to automatically progress to the next page when a video snippet is finished. Provide social sharing and related links at the end of your contextual stories account, so users can share it or dive further into other content on your website.

5. Affiliate Links Management

Publishers can use affiliate links to monetize by placing links in organic story pages. Please read more about Story Ads Best Practices to gather more helpful information. Not sure how to get started? Here is an elaborate AMP creation guide to help you get going. In the guideline, you’ll learn how to create a basic AMP HTML page, see the simple steps to stage and validate AMP website content to help you stay compliant, and the quick tips to prepare your content for publication and distribution for optimal user experience.

How AMP Stories Project Helps Power Best And Optimal User Experience

At all costs, the mobile website version is excellent for distributing and sharing content, but mastering performance can be tricky. Creating visual stories on the web with the fast and smooth performance that users have grown accustomed to in native apps can be challenging. Getting these key details right often poses prohibitively high startup costs, particularly for small publishers.

Generally speaking, Accelerated Mobile Pages are essential because they help web pages load faster for one thing, which potentially improves usability. Since Google launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project in February 2016, the goal has been outstanding. Notably, Accelerated Mobile Pages aims to help put mobile performance above everything else on the web.

Equally important, it’s also helpful in convincing visitors to stay longer on your site engaging with your content. However, neither AMP improves engagement nor makes content more useful or entertaining. Otherwise, it’s a website that helps Google meet its goal of delivering rich content for optimal user experience. Realistically, it powers over two billion mobile pages to date.

It also supports over 900,000 domains and still counting—pages with AMP now load twice as fast as pages without added AMP elements. Therefore, if you think you can ignore it, you’re wrong. AMP has some excellent features and benefits that can take your content creation efforts to the next level. Also, if you don’t take the time to understand or use AMP stories, you’re missing out.

1. Execute All AMP JavaScript Asynchronously;

JavaScript is powerful, it can modify just about every page aspect, but it can also block DOM construction and delay page rendering (see also Adding interactivity with JavaScript). To keep JavaScript from delaying page rendering, AMP allows only asynchronous JavaScript. While custom JS is permitted to use anamp-script, and third-party JS is allowed in iframes; it cannot block rendering. For example, if third-party JS uses the super-bad-for-performance document.write API does not stop rendering the main page.

2. Size All Resources Statically

External resources such as images, ads, or iframes must state their size in the HTML so AMP can determine each element’s size and position before downloading resources. AMP loads the page layout without waiting for any web resources to download. AMP uncouples document layout from resource layout. Only one HTTP request is needed to lay out the entire doc (+fonts).

3. Don’t Let Extension Mechanisms Block Rendering

AMP doesn’t let extension mechanisms block page rendering. AMP supports extensions for lightboxesInstagram embedstweets, etc. While these require additional HTTP requests, those requests do not block page layout and rendering. Any page that uses a custom script must tell the AMP system that it will eventually have a custom tag. For example, the amp-iframe script tells the system there will be a amp-iframe tag. AMP creates the iframe box before it even knows what it will include:

<script async custom-element="amp-iframe" src=""></script>

4. Keep All Third-Party JavaScript Out Of The Critical Path

Third-party JS likes to use synchronous JS loading. They also, like in document.write, offer more script sync. For example, if you have five ads on your page, and each of them causes three synchronous loads, each with a 1-second latency connection, you’re in 15 seconds of load time just for JS loading. AMP pages allow third-party JavaScript but only in sandboxed iframes.

By restricting them to iframes, they can’t block the execution of the main page. Even if they trigger multiple style re-calculations, their tiny iframes have very little DOM.

5. All CSS Must Be Inline And Size-Bound

CSS blocks all rendering, stops page load, and tends to get bloated. In AMP HTML pages, only inline styles are allowed. This removes one or often more HTTP requests than most web pages from the critical rendering path. Also, the inline style sheet has a maximum size of 50 kilobytes. While this size is big enough for very sophisticated pages, it still requires the page author to practice good CSS hygiene.

6. Font Triggering Must Be Efficient

Web fonts are super large, so web font optimization is crucial to performance. On a typical page with a few sync scripts and external style sheets, the browser waits to download these vast fonts until all this happens. The AMP system declares zero HTTP requests until fonts start downloading. Therefore, no HTTP requests are blocking the browser from downloading fonts.

7. Minimize Style Recalculations

Each time you measure something, it triggers expensive style recalculations because the browser has to lay out the entire page. In AMP pages, all DOM reads happen first before all the writes. This ensures there’s a max of one recalc of styles per frame. Learn more about the impact of style and layout recalculations on rendering performance to gather more helpful information.

8. Only Run GPU-Accelerated Animations

The only way to have fast optimizations is to run them on the GPU. GPU knows about layers; it knows how to perform some things on these layers; it can move and fade them, but it can’t update the page layout; it will hand that task over to the browser, and that’s not good. The rules for animation-related CSS ensure that animations can be GPU-accelerated.

Specifically, AMP only allows animating and transitioning on transform and opacity so that page layout isn’t required. Learn more about using transform and opacity for animation changes for more helpful information.

9. Prioritize Resource Loading

AMP controls all resource downloads: it prioritizes resource loading, loading only what’s needed, and prefetches lazy-loaded resources. When AMP downloads resources, it optimizes downloads so that the most critical resources are first downloaded. Images and ads are only downloaded if they are likely seen by the user, above the fold, or if the user is expected to scroll to them quickly.

Still, AMP also prefetches lazy-loaded resources. Resources are loaded as late as possible but prefetched as early as possible. That way, things load very fast, but the CPU is only used when resources are shown to users.

10. Load Website Pages In An Instant

The new preconnect API is used heavily to ensure HTTP requests are as fast as possible when they are made. The pages might already be available when the user selects them, leading to instant loading. While prerendering can be applied to all web content, it can also use up a lot of bandwidth and CPU. AMP is optimized to reduce both of these factors. Be that as it may, you can read and learn more about Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), which offers elaborate guidelines for webmasters before proceeding.

The Best Practices For An AMP Stories Plugin Inside Your WordPress Website

In one of our previous posts, we discussed that Page Experience (PX) is a set of ranking signals—including Core Web Vitals (CWV)—measuring the user experience of interacting with a web page. AMP is a powerful application tool that automatically applies many optimizations and best practices on your website, making it easier for you to achieve a good page experience for your visitors.

It’s important to realize that the official AMP Plugin, supported by the AMP team, makes it easy to bring the power of AMP to your WordPress website, seamlessly integrating with the normal publishing flow and allowing the use of existing themes and plugins. In particular, the AMP Plugin For WordPress is fully loaded with robust capabilities and granular publisher controls.

In other words, the official AMP plugin for WordPress is a powerful tool that helps you build user-first WordPress websites, that is, websites that are fast, beautiful, secure, engaging, and accessible. A user-first site will deliver experiences that delight your users and, therefore, will increase user engagement and the lead conversion rate success of your website.

However, contrary to the popular belief of being only for mobile websites (it doesn’t stand for Accelerated Mobile Pages anymore!), AMP is a fully responsive web component framework, which means you can provide AMP experiences for your users on mobile and desktop devices. Be that as it may, a few more features help empower this plugin for more AMP Stories success.

The basic plugin features:
  1. Automate generating AMP-valid markup as much as possible, letting users follow the standard workflows they are used to in WordPress.
  2. Provide practical validation tools to help users deal with AMP incompatibilities when they happen, including mechanisms for identifyingcontextualizing, and resolving issues caused by validation errors.
  3. Provide development support to make it easier for WordPress developers to build AMP-compatible ecosystem components and build websites and solutions with AMP-compatibility built-in.
  4. Support the serving of AMP pages to make it easier for site owners to use mobile redirection, AMP-to-AMP linking, and generation of optimized AMP by default (via the PHP port of AMP Optimizer).
  5. Provide a turnkey solution for segments of WordPress creators to go from zero to publishing AMP pages in no time, regardless of technical expertise or availability of resources.

The bottom line is that regardless of your technical expertise, the AMP plugin can be helpful to your web-based business website content optimization. You can download the installation files immediately or even look at the elaborate plugin guidelines and basic simple installation steps for more helpful information. This is an easier path to a great page experience for everyone!

Both developers and non-developer users can use this plugin. On the one hand, if you are a developer or tech-savvy user, you can use advanced developer tools provided by the AMP plugin to fix validation issues your website may have and reach full AMP compatibility. On the other hand, you may not be a developer or tech-savvy user, or you don’t want to deal with any technical issues.

Such as validation issues and tackling development tasks; the AMP plugin allows you to assemble fully AMP-compatible sites with different configurations taking advantage of AMP-compatible components. The plugin helps you deal with validation issues by removing invalid AMP markup in cases where possible or altogether suppressing AMP-incompatible plugins on AMP pages.

Some Accelerated Mobile Pages Controversies That Webmasters Should Know 

Prerendering only downloads resources above the fold, and prerendering doesn’t render things that might be expensive in terms of CPU. When AMP documents get prerendered for instant loading, only resources above the fold are downloaded. When AMP documents get prerendered for instant loading, resources that might use a lot of CPU (like third-party iframes) are not downloaded.

One of the more controversial design decisions for AMP In HTML Design is that it loads all external resources through custom elements. While this has some benefits, it comes with one major problem: The browser’s preload scanner can no longer start downloading those resources very early in the document lifecycle, and even worse: the browser needs to download a JavaScript file.

By downloading the JavaScript files, it’s able to make those downloads. So, the math here is easy: The earlier one starts with resource downloads, the earlier they will be around. A straightforward document with a single image and nothing else will be much faster if it is not an AMP file. So, why did it disable this super-important component of browser speed? There are two reasons:

Reason One: A Seamless AMP Impact In Preload Scanners

Among the AMP core benefits is that it can download resources before the document’s external stylesheets and synchronous JavaScript files above the help in the document hierarchy resources are downloaded. AMP doesn’t allow these, so that benefit goes away. Additionally, in AMP HTML, the space that will be taken up for an image is always known without downloading it.

Thus, the effect where a late picture can impact page layout is eliminated. AMP HTML works around the preload scanner because it paradoxically enables achieving the desired instant load effect. Even if not prerendering, AMP HTML’s document structure significantly offsets the benefits of the preload scanner, so loads are fast even when not prerendering.

While bare load time is essential, AMP aims to support instant loading—prerendering documents achieves this. For prerendering, an app may download and render a copy before a user expresses the intent (aka tap, click, or press) to see the document. This requires the app to guess which document the user will want to see. Guesswork is significantly easier when one gets to make more guesses.

Reason Two: An Efficient Prerendering For Instant Loading

One thing is for sure, in the best case, all available documents can be pre-rendered. The main problem with prerendering is that it costs bandwidth and CPU resources. AMP HTML supports a special prerender mode for documents where only images are downloaded. Still, no other resources and only those images are visible when the user first sees the paper (aka above the fold).

Let’s ignore the CPU for a bit (and it is more important but harder to do math with). As such, the following calculation can be done: Say a document typically has four large images, but only 1 of those is visible above the fold, and those images dominate download size (because documents are small); then in AMP prerender-mode, the browser can download and prerender four document types.

In that case, the browser can download and prerender the four documents using the bandwidth that would have been required to prerender a single non-AMP copy. As a result, the consequence is that application platforms can prerender AMP HTML documents much more aggressively than regular HTML documents.

Takeaway Thoughts:   

AMP has been around for a while, and many companies have optimized their web pages since, most recently, both Google and Facebook announced algorithm changes. The simple reason is that they both want to offer customers a better experience when they click on a web page. In that case, AMP-ready, responsive website pages & blog posts are as important as the website itself.

Still, the web is excellent for distributing and sharing content, but mastering performance can be tricky. Creating visual stories on the web with the fast and smooth performance that users have grown accustomed to in native apps can be challenging. Getting the essential guides and details about AMP Stories right often poses prohibitively high startup costs, particularly for small publishers.

With this in mind, a partnership with WordPress might enable Accelerated Mobile Pages to millions of unsuspecting webmasters by default. As a result of Accelerated Mobile Pages implementation, most web surfers won’t ever leave Google. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that this is not a “web” of interconnected websites anymore but a centralized content dystopia.

Above all, we can all agree that a faster mobile web experience is better for everyone. However, the costs of implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages may be too high. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about Accelerated Mobile Pages if you have a well-designed responsive website with optimized images and video. Use the above valuable and related tips for your further research.

More Resource References:

  1. What Is Website Monetization?
  2. Who Is A Full Stack Web Developer?
  3. Google-Friendly Website Beginners Guide
  4. Website Design & Development Basics
  5. SEO Best Routine Practices For Webmasters

Finally, we hope the above-revised guide on AMP Stories for Accelerated Mobile Pages and responsive content delivery on the open web was helpful. You are welcome to Consult Us if you need more help or support from our team. Be that as it may, you can also Donate to support what we do and motivate our creative content writers for their excellent user-based blog guidelines.

But, if you have additional thoughts, suggestions, opinions, recommendations, or even contribution questions for our Free FAQs & Answers Segment from our professional webmasters, you can share them with us in our comments section. And just like our Web Tech Experts Website, let us know how we can help you create an AMP-ready and SEO-responsive website for your brand.

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