Digital technology has changed dramatically over the past ten to twenty years and the internet is now a permanent fixture in our lives. All you have to do is to think back to the early days and your very first website to know that the internet is an ever changing beast.
There is however, one part of the internet that we see every single day that has not changed – the HTTP we see at the beginning of a website address. You might be surprised to know that this is going to change very soon.
So what exactly is the HTTP? What does it do? Why do we need it and why does it need to be changed? More importantly, what will these changes mean to your business?
The world of HTTP
HTTP is short for HyperText Transfer Protocol. It is the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web and what is actually does is control the transfer of information and data from your web browser to the server of the website you want to visit.
When you type the URL of a web page into your browser, this sends a HTTP message to the server commanding it to find the web page and to transmit it to your browser.
In the early days of the internet, can you remember that we had to type HTTP into the browser? Now with the current generation of browsers, we no longer need to do this anymore, but it is still there even though we don’t need to actively type in HTTP.
So why is HTTP changing?
In a nutshell, HTTP will change to HTTP/2 in about a year or two from now and its main focus will be to decrease page loading times. You might have noticed that loading times have increased over the past few years, but that is mainly due to the improvements in broadband connections. To speed loading times up even more, the underlying HTTP needs to be updated.
You might be surprised to learn, that with all of the advances in digital technology and the way the internet has evolved over the years, HTTP has remained unchanged. It is way past time for an update, especially if we want to continue making use of the new technology available for our websites.
After all, there is no point in putting premier gas in your car if its top speed is only 50mph, so is there any point in trying to improve the internet with better broadband connections if the underlying protocol can’t cope with these changes? So to keep up, HTTP needs to change and become HTTP/2.
What will HTTP/2 mean to your business?
HTTP was created when websites were much simpler, so when you send a HTTP request for a web page to the server, every single part of that web page is requested individually. It’s like having a shopping list and instead of going to the market and purchasing everything on your list, instead you make separate trips to buy each item on your list.
That doesn’t make any sense does it? In the early days of web development however, it made perfect sense. So in essence when you request a web page, a request is sent for each image, for example, to the server. Even worse, your browser has to wait for a response from the server for the first image, before it can request the second image, and so on.
This is why your web pages can take so long to load. Every time another component is added to a web page that is another request that has to be made to the server. The newer browsers can have multiple connections to a server, but still, each connection is limited to one request at a time.
That’s where HTTP/2 comes in, because it allows your browser to make multiple requests at one time. In essence, web pages will load much quicker because your browser doesn’t have to send individual requests and then wait for a response before sending the next request.
Even with a fast internet connection, this issue with HTTP holds you back from achieving really fast loading times. HTTP/2 will help you to take more advantage of your fast internet connections, because it removes the blockage from the system.
What do you have to do?
Absolutely nothing. All you need do is to keep your browser up to date and if your website is compatible it will use this protocol. If it is not compatible, it will simply use the old HTTP which will still be available.
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