One of the top initiatives for eBay this year is to leverage our structured data and other cutting-edge technologies to deliver the best possible browsing experiences for our users. We’re also well aware of the profound shifts in commerce being driven by mobile shopping. That’s why several of our new, compelling browsing experiences are rolling out for mobile devices users. For example, we are working on delivering faster mobile browsing experiences leveraging the open source AMP Project.
What is AMP? It stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, and is essentially a framework built for speed that has gained traction with publishers and technology leaders like Google. Initially, AMP was primarily tuned for publishing-based content, but it has much promise in the ecommerce world.
We caught up with Senthil Padmanabhan, Principal Engineer/ Engineering Director at eBay, to learn more about how eBay is working with AMP. For more information on how eBay implemented AMP, click here.
What is AMP technology, and who benefits from it?
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It is an open source project to build web pages that focus on three things: speed, mobile and user experience.
If you take the web, it is pretty open. You can build a simple web page, a complex web page, basically build a page however you want. That is the power of the web. Although it is great in many aspects, there is a small problem when it comes to mobile. Currently, when users click from a link on a mobile device, they are not sure what sort of experience they’re going to get. They may get a mobile optimized website, they might get a desktop-centric page, or they can get an ad that splashes right in the middle of the screen when not expected.
When you build out pages with AMP you are consistently guiding users to a solid, fast user experience. Working with AMP includes leveraging best practices that ensure the best mobile web experiences.
What was involved in integrating AMP technology with eBay experiences?
The good thing about AMP is that at the end of the day it is a bunch of best practices for building web pages. We incorporated some of those best practices as a part of our regular product development cycle itself. This lessened the differences between developing an AMP and non-AMP pages and made AMP based development more natural.
In fact, 85 percent of our browsing modules code is shared between AMP and non-AMP. Also the AMP Project has an exhaustive list of ready to use UI components, sufficient to build a basic product page. We leveraged a few of them in our modules. Having said that, there are still some missing pieces required for a full-fledged ecommerce experience, which we are working on.
Give us an example of how AMP might improve a user’s experience.
The biggest benefit we get from leveraging AMP is that we improve experiences for users who come to eBay from external platforms such as Google, Twitter etc. We can give them a speed-optimized experience that gives them more context than they would otherwise have. They see relevant item listings very quickly and can make instant comparisons.
Lots of users search for items in search engines, and many of them do so for price comparisons when they are in a physical store. Sometimes, when users are exploring products from a mobile device, they have a hard time getting the information they need because mobile networks can be slow. This is where AMP comes into play. It helps us to deliver a speed-optimized mobile browsing experience.
What lies ahead for eBay in terms of leveraging AMP?
Our top action item is to fill in a few missing pieces required to help us get the absolute most out of AMP. These include a few critical things like tracking, A/B testing, auto-complete, and more. We have partnered with the AMP Project team to create a working group to close these gaps. Secondly, we also want to create seamless transitions from the AMP view to a regular page view. Users should not be getting a slower experience after an initial fast experience. There are ways to achieve this.
We are especially focused, as we continue to leverage AMP, on enabling pages that users come to from outside eBay, so that they have the best possible experiences.