AMPed Out

AMP is a technology designed to make web pages load lightning-fast on mobile devices. For a tiny startup like Tribify, it's also some serious overkill!
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No tool exists in a vacuum.

The Tribify Engine is no exception. The home page copy is true: we help entrepreneurs cultivate relationships at scale so they can close more high-value deals. But if there isn’t some kind of a call to action at the pointy end of each relationship, you might be making friends, but you aren’t doing business.

Nothing wrong with that. But that isn’t why we are here.

So every instance of the Tribify Engine exists within a context. If you already have a robust infrastructure of social media, landing pages, etc., then that’s your context and the Engine will happily activate it!

Here at Tribify, we have our OWN context. Back when we were first developing the Tribify Engine to power RINGKNOCKER (see our origin story), we worked out a combination of virtual events, website features, and messaging and social media practices that did a good job of capitalizing on the connections the Engine delivered. When we broke Tribify out into its own entity, we largely duplicated this infrastructure while taking the opportunity to simplify and streamline its elements.

A key element of the infrastructure is the website you are looking at now. Under the hood, it’s a WordPress website that uses custom code to tie together a specific set of plugins in order to do what we do.

A couple of examples:

  • When we close out an event, buttons appear on the respective pages tying the Event Debrief to the original event.
  • Our event pages have active elements in the sidebar indicating whether an event is imminent, in progress, or complete, and displays appropriate buttons.

There’s more where that came from. The point is, the Tribify website is a template, but it’s also a work in progress. And yesterday afternoon a friend pinged me to tell me our template was broken.

Our busted site!

Here’s what he was seeing from his Android mobile phone. He tried every browser on his phone, and even VPNed to the site via an India connection from his location in New Jersey. Same result: apparently our stylesheets weren’t loading.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t reproduce the effect. I tried my iPhone via VPN connections all over the world. I tried every desktop web browser I could think of. I tried BrowserStack, which let me test the site on lots of mobile devices from many different locations. No dice.

I might have suggested the issue was on my friend’s end.

Then, as I was brushing my teeth this morning, I followed a blog link to the Tribify site from LinkedIn, and… BOOM! I saw it!

Now that I could reproduce the problem, I could analyze it. Here’s what I did:

  • I had been looking at the post in the LinkedIn mobile browser. I used the Share button to open the exact same post in Chrome. Same result.
  • I navigated to the same post in Chrome from our home page. It looked exactly as it SHOULD look.
  • I compared the two URLs.

Here’s what I found:

  • When I navigated to the post from our home page, the URL was https:<span style="display: none;"> </span>//
  • When I got there from LinkedIn and saw a broken page, the URL was https:<span style="display: none;"> </span>//<span style="font-weight: strong; color: blue;">amp</span>

Note the bit in blue at the end. There’s our problem!

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It’s a technology designed to make web pages load lightning-fast on mobile devices, and it is installed by default on websites, where the Tribify site is hosted.

The trouble with AMP is that you can’t just turn it on and forget about it. If you do a lot of custom work, you have to take AMP into account. And if you’re just a tiny startup and don’t really have THAT much content to begin with, you’ll easily get 80% of the way there with a good responsive design. In that scenario, AMP is some serious overkill!

So we disabled AMP. This required two steps…

First, we deactivated the AMP plugin that the WordPress folks had very helpfully installed & enabled on our site by default. No offense, fellas!

Deactivating AMP

Next, we created a redirect to handle all of those cached links we had already put out there in social media etc. For this we used the free Redirection plugin, which is awesome and probably the most popular redirection plugin on WordPress.

Here are the key elements of our redirect:

  • Source URL: (.\/)amp\/?(\?.)?$
  • Target URL: $1$2

And the full configuration:

AMP Redirect

And that’s it! Now AMP is completely disabled, and any attempt to reach an AMP page will find its non-AMP equivalent. Our site now relies exclusively on its responsive design for mobile performance, which is way better than good enough.

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