Thursday, October 08, 2015

AMP highlights Interactive News Stories

AMP does not kill interactive news but highlights interactive news. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) should lead to readers becoming even more aware of the creative uses of JavaScript in journalism and telling other stories. Readers will expect a better version when they read non-AMPed news stories. This is good for writers, journalism, publishers and readers.

Readers are already well aware of the bad JavaScript practices with trackers and ads. Ad blockers are a hot topic currently for the Apple platform. Joshua Benton shows a Chicago Tribune page full of trackers. In my 2013 talk on JavaScript Journalism at 4:00 mark I pointed out that most newspapers have 30 times more JavaScript than text with the worst case being The New York Times with over 90 times. Newspapers and their third parties are notorious for their poor practices in using JavaScript.

I worked at The Washington Post on the mobile web. This was the mobile browser version of The Washington Post and our job as a front end developers was to deliver the news as fast as possible for readers. We had some success and were pioneers in the off-line first efforts. Later work by both USAToday and The Guardian pushed performance even further getting delivery in under a second.

However, in any news organization there is a conflict with the business side. I saw this first hand when our team had worked hard to increase performance by fractions of a second only to see it disappear when the business side signed an agreement to add yet another third party JavaScript code block to the site for ads or analytics. I cringed at seeing some of the new buttons and lost milliseconds.

So another impact of AMP will be that news organizations will have to re-evaluate their use of third party scripts and demand use of best practices by these vendors. Not even The Washington Post as one of the largest newspapers was in a position to demand more secure and better performance by these analytic and ad networks. Hopefully, AMP will solve this problem and force third party vendors to use JavaScript best practices.

So I am very positive about Google's introduction of AMP. It is a great step forward for readers, journalism, news publishers and the web.

Disclosure: The project lead of AMP, Malte Ubl, is a friend. He is also the curator of JSConfEU which I have attended.

No comments: