How many times have you come across an article which suggests ways to make your WordPress website faster?
You’re probably sick and tired of them. The sorry thing is most of them recycle the same old tricks over and over again.
I’ve got news for you: The bad news is that this is another article on how to make your WordPress website faster. The good news is that it’s a totally new concept.
It’s called HTTP/2.
What is HTTP and Why Do We Need HTTP/2?
First of all, you’re probably extremely familiar with HTTP. Although you may now know exactly what it means and what it does, you probably use it dozens of times every day.
Every time you visit Google .
Or even WordPress.org
Essentially, HTTP (short for HyperText Transfer Protocol) is the way a browser and a web server communicate with each other. In not too technical terms, HTTP is the language that is used by the web server and the client to communicate.
I won’t be digging too deeply into HTTP, what it is and how it works. If you want to read more about it, check out the Wikipedia page .
HTTP was first documented officially in 1991 as version 0.9. This is more than 25 years ago, which in technology is eons.
Note: There were multiple versions of HTTP, including 1.0 and 1.1 – I’ll refer to HTTP1 as HTTP1.x in this article.
Suffice to say, your run-of-the-mill website looked something like this:
We’ve come a long way since then – and this website you’re reading right now is an example of how the web has progressed.
The size of your standard website has mushroomed from a few kilobytes to easily a few megabytes. The actual number of files which make up a website has gone from just a handful to a hundred or more files being the norm.
This progress, and the resulting explosion in the size and number of files needed to run a website, exacerbated a number of limitations which the HTTP protocol had. These limitations were creating latency (or slowness) in the loading of a website.
Hence the need for HTTP2.
HTTP2 is essentially an evolution of the HTTP protocol, which is aimed at fixing these limitations. In fact, one of its stated primary goals is to:
“… Decrease latency to improve page load speeds in web browsers.” – Wikipedia
But before we explain what problems HTTP/2 wants to solve, what are the problems with HTTP1.x exactly?
The Limitations of HTTP1.x
As I referred to a few paragraphs up, HTTP1.x has a number of limitations, which have come about due to the ever-increasing complexity and size of websites today.
Let’s go back to have a look under the hood of what websites looked like in the early days.
If we once again refer to this website, which takes back a few years to what websites looked like in the early days, we can see that the whole websites is made up of two files:
The HTML file consists of nearly ALL of the content of the page. The only additional resource required to display the page correctly is the blueribbon.gif.
This means that the browser has to make two connections.
On the other hand, let’s look at a mature site, such as WPMU DEV.