The official AMP plugin enables site owners to serve AMP to their users in different ways, which are referred to as template modes: Standard, Transitional, and Reader. The differences between them are in terms of the number of themes used (one or two), and the number of versions of the site (non-AMP, AMP). Each template mode brings its own value proposition and serves the needs of different scenarios in the large and diverse WordPress ecosystem. And in all cases, the AMP plugin provides as much support as possible in terms of automating the generation of AMP pages, as well as keeping the option chosen AMP valid. In a nutshell, the available template modes are the following:
Standard Mode: This template mode is the ideal, as there is only one theme for serving requests and a single version of your site: the AMP version. Besides enabling all of your site to be AMP-first, this has the added benefit of reducing development and maintenance costs. This mode is the best choice for sites where the theme and plugins used in the site are fully AMP-compatible. It’s also a good option if some components are not AMP-compatible but the site owner has the resources or the know-how to fix them. See our showcase of sites using Standard mode.
Transitional Mode: In this mode there is also a single theme used, but there can be two versions of each page: AMP and non-AMP. The active theme is used for serving the AMP and non-AMP versions of a given URL. This mode is a good choice if the site uses a theme that is not fully AMP compatible, but the functional differences between the AMP and non-AMP pages are acceptable (due to graceful degradation). In this case, users accessing the site from mobile devices can get the AMP version and get an optimized experience which also retains the look and feel of the non-AMP version. Check out our showcase of sites using Transitional mode.
Reader Mode: In this mode there are two different themes, one for AMP pages and another for non-AMP pages, and therefore there are also two versions of the site. This mode may be selected when the site is using an AMP-incompatible theme, but the level of incompatibilities is significant without graceful degradation. It’s also a good choice if you are not technically savvy (or simply do not want to deal with the incompatibilities) and therefore want simplified and robust workflows that allow you to take advantage of AMP with minimal effort.
Different modes would be recommended in different scenarios, depending on the specifics of your site and your role. As you configure the plugin, it will suggest the mode that might be best for you based on its assessment of the theme and plugins used on your site. And, independently of the mode used, you have the option of serving all or only a portion of your site as AMP. This gives you all the flexibility you need to get started enabling AMP on your site progressively.
It is possible today to assemble great looking user-first sites powered by the AMP plugin by picking and choosing themes and plugins from a growing AMP-compatible ecosystem. In this context, the AMP plugin acts as an orchestrator of the overall AMP content creation and publishing process; it serves as a validator and enforcer making it easier to not only get to AMP experiences, but to maintain them with confidence.
Many popular theme and plugin developers have taken efforts to support the official AMP plugin. If you are using a theme like Astra or Newspack, or if you are using plugins like Yoast or WP Forms — they will work out of the box! You can see the growing list of tested themes and plugins.
Although there is a growing ecosystem of AMP-compatible WordPress components, there is still a ways to go before majority AMP compatibility in the ecosystem. If you are a developer, or you have the resources to pursue development projects, you may want in some cases to develop custom plugin or theme to serve your specific needs. The official AMP plugin can be of great help to you by providing powerful and effective developer tools that shed light into the AMP development process as it is done in WordPress. This includes mechanisms for detailing the root causes of validation issues, the contextual space to understand them properly, and methods to deal with them during the process of achieving full AMP compatibility. Read more about Developer Tools.