How Facebook and Google are pushing Mobile UX to its limits

In an endeavor to ensuring lesser loading times for news and media web pages across the mobile web, Facebook and Google came up with Instant Articles and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in May and September respectively. While for Facebook, the initiative aims at keeping users from leaving the social-media channel rather than referring traffic to online publishers; for Google, the project aims at building light-weight webpages by making use of open-source AMP HTML code framework. In both the cases, focus is on radically improving mobile user experience.

How will ‘Facebook’s Instant Articles’ Enhance Mobile UX?

With Instant Articles, publishers can now host their stories and posts on the Facebook servers which will help loading linked articles 10 times quicker than a separate web app or page. With various interactive tools viz. auto play videos, maps, zooming, comments, audio captions, analytics tools, and others, the project will not only lend handy tools for publishers but a great mobile user experience too.

With speed being the main selling point, Instant Articles will also ensure visual consistency as well as readability by having good visual design standards and lesser visual clutter.

Publications that have already signed for Instant Articles are National Geographic, The New York Times, BBC News, Fox Sports, The Washington Post, The Onion, The Huffington Post, The Verge, The Atlantic, Business Insider, TIME, Hollywood Reporter, and others.

How will ‘Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages’ Enhance Mobile UX?

As per Google, with AMP HTML, performance of mobile web will ‘drastically improve’. This will be made possible by allowing website owners build websites with lighter-weight web pages and employing caching techniques of pre-fetching and storing web pages so that it’s pre-loaded even before the user actually clicking on it. Result – web pages that earlier took around 3 seconds to load will now take milliseconds to show.

By getting rid of JavaScript and simplifying the HTML code architecturally, Accelerated Mobile Pages will load much faster when users search for news on Google.

Many big tech companies and online portals are already on board including Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

So, is the Mobile UX Really Pushed to its Limits?

Thanks to Internet conditioning, we want everything quickly. When visiting a news or media website, pages might take time to load. While text might show, building up might take longer because of ads and images. This painful experience of slow page load times is now been taken care of by Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages. These aim at driving more primary traffic for publishers by ensuring user experience is improved and a foundation is built for creators to deliver their content.

With speeding of mobile web, at prima facie, it seems a win-win scenario for all parties – first and foremost, the user; the publisher; and also, the platforms supporting the content. In the long run, the strategy of picking content from a few media houses and serving these quickly to the users can lead to content agenda-setting. Only time will tell how this media distribution and consumption model on mobile web evolves.

Anand Bhusari

About the Author

Anand Bhusari heads the creative group at Net Solutions, and has been in this field for the past 15 years - possessing vast experience in print, web, and mobile. Anand thinks simplicity is the key to good design. He is an Apple fanboy and loves spending time with his family.

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