WordPress AMP for Mobile Speed

AMP-Accelerated Mobile Pages is mobile page speed up technology pioneered by Google. Web & WordPress users have had to come to grips with major mobile speed deficits in the light of changes in mobile usage:
The Global use of the Web has shifted from desktops to mobile devices – desktop=44%  vs  mobile devices=56%. There are some important “Yes Buts”. In the US the ratio is reversed – desktop=50% vs mobile devices=46% vs tablets=4%. And the length of Web sessions on desktops are notably longer. But even more important in the US, the time spent on the Web rise to 55.9% for desktops as their apps functionality and styling are still better than whats available on mobile devices. But that is changing as mobile  page designs vieby producing better User Interfacess and User eXperiences.

So now WordPress developers are looking to enhance their design and services because Mobile websites still get the short end of the stick. For example here is SearchEngineJournal.com Google page speed scores:
Mobile Device – LCP=3.2sec, FCP=2.8sec, TTI=18.7sec, TBLOCKT=2.47sec,
Desktop            – LCP=1.1sec, FCP=0.8sec, TTI=2.5sec, TBLOCKT=0.04sec,
Across the board SearchEngineJournal Core Web Vitals are superior on the desktop to their mobile scores and by a significant and consistent 300% faster, And SEJ wrote the book on the importance of good mobile device performance scores so one would expect them to have mobile performance welll tune.

Can AMP Help?

A number of WordPress clients asked that question because they had seen mobile speed 2 to 3 times slower then for the same page on the desktop. And so our own tests looked to see if AMP plugins could help. And in general, AMP plugins  showed some interesting results. First though, we had to get performance numbers for the webpage, FlexGals, without any AMP assistance:

FlexGals desktop without any AMP – FCP=0.5 sec, LCP=1.8 sec, TTI=0.5 sec, TBLOCKT=0.0 sec,
FlexGals  mobile without any AMP – FCP=2.0 sec, LCP=4.6 sec, TTI=4.0 sec, TBLOCKT=0.35 sec,
The important point to note is that mobile response is 3 to 4 times slower than desktop without any AMP help.

Now we were ready to see how some of the most popular AMP plugins did in improving runtime speed.
AMP is the official WordPress AMP plugin with a 4.0 plugin rating and 500K active installations.
It does a preliminary can for AMP usage and  compatibility on your website.

The results of the scan are confusing because one of the recommended alternate themes is Astra. After making sure that the latest Astra theme is being used I proceeded with the standard test:
FlexGals desktop with AMP – FCP=0.8 sec, LCP=0.8 sec, TTI=0.8 sec, TBLOCKT=0.0 sec,
FlexGals mobile with AMP – FCP=2.6 sec, LCP=2.9 sec, TTI=3.0 sec, TBLOCKT=0.12sec,
Now AMP has a dozen additional settings  without tips on best settings. But that like in math textswhere proving out the best options  an exercise leftt to users. The crucial data is that with AMP the desktop speed is slower except for LCP by 60% while the mobiles speed improves by about 50% except for FCP which is slower by 30%.  Bottom line:
AMP official plugin shows mixed results with a complex setup.

AMP for WP has a 4.2 WP rating and over 1000 active installs.
It also has many extensions for use with PageBuilder slike Divi, Elementor and Gutenberg plus email, adsense a, and contact for routines. Perhaps because AMP for WP is selling an add on Mobile PageBuilder it has over 15 pages of settings. Suffice it to say we have only tried two setting – with and without added PWA support>

First without PWA results:
FlexGals desktop with AMP for WP – FCP=0.5 sec, LCP=1.1 sec, TTI=0.9 sec, TBLOCKT=0.02 sec,
FlexGals mobile with AMP  for WP – FCP=2.0 sec, LCP=4.6 sec, TTI=4.3 sec, TBLOCKT=0.77 sec,
The  desktop scores are only marginally worse but the mobile scores show mixed results. But AMP for WP has a free PWA option – so we try it out:
Next with PWA option on  results:
FlexGals desktop with AMP for WP – FCP=0.5 sec, LCP=1.5 sec, TTI=0.9 sec, TBLOCKT=0.02 sec,
FlexGals mobile with AMP  for WP – FCP=2.0 sec, LCP=4.3 sec, TTI=4.0 sec, TBLOCKT=0.32 sec,
So for a small drop in desktop speed, AMP for WP with PWA delivers a 10% improvement in mobile speeed.
Again the setup for AMP or WP is quite complex and the best mobile results are only marginal.

AMPWP has a 4.2 WP rating and 1000 installations but it has not been tested in a year.
FlexGals desktop with AMPWP- FCP=0.7 sec, LCP=1.7 sec, TTI=0.5 sec, TBLOCKT=0.08 sec,
FlexGals  mobile with AMP WP- FCP=2.6 sec, LCP=4.9 sec, TTI=4.4 sec, TBLOCKT=0.57 sec,
These results showmarginally poorer desktop scores with the worst mobile score.
Bottom line, the setup is easy but mobile scores are barely improved.

PWA for WP & AMP has 4.3 WP rating and 20K active installations.
This is the reverse of the WP AMP installation – in this case PWA is the main part and AMP support is a free add-on.
FlexGals desktop with PWA&AMP – FCP=0.5 sec, LCP=2.0 sec, TTI=1.4 sec, TBLOCKT=0.05 sec,
FlexGals mobile with PWA&AMP – FCP=2.0 sec, LCP=4.5 sec, TTI=4.0 sec, TBLOCKT=0.22 sec,
So for a low increase in desktop speed, users get the best speed improvements on the mobile side
PWA for WP & AMP was a marginal improvement for the first mobile page download; but then local caching did improve subsequent mobile page speed. But the use of dynamic mobile page inserts  means the local mobile cache will likely need constant up dates.

There are other AMP tools as outlined here which may be reviewed in the future.

Summary

AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages for WordPress is an example of where special PHP/JS/CSS coding is likely required to achieve the best results. The current crop of AMP plugins require extensive setups  while deliveing modest improvements in mobile performance. Hopefully new PWA+AMP apps and  the new advanced ThemeBuilders will address mobile performance more effectively.  More relevant is the fact that SearchEngineLand turned off it s AMP powered blog in the Spring of 2022. The result was mixed traffic trends but distinctly lower server costs. 

So the underlying  situation is that WordPress mobile device performance is in flux.  So want to find out how to improve mobile performance – come on Tuesday Nov 22nd  at 6PM for  the free Zoom meetup,  Mobile Speed Presence.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This