4 cutting-edge technologies to speed up your sites

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May 19, 2016
4 cutting-edge technologies to speed up your sites.

The internet is constantly making headway with speed being the major metric of progress and a key question for most web developers. A previous WebdesignerDepot article How slow is too slow in 2016? highlighted the need to focus on speed, so we decided to present a few features that will help your site make the grade in 2016.

HTTP/2

Published in May 2015 and supported since the second half of 2015, HTTP/2 is a new version of the world wide web protocol.

The main improvement is the ability to cover multiple requests in a single connection. This ability is called multiplexing and it's revolutionary for web designers. Techniques like sprites or Data URIs won't be effective anymore.

HTTP/1 was more efficient when loading one large image instead of several small because it wasn't able to cover multiple requests at the same time. This was taken care of in the new version.

HTTP/2 also compresses headers before the requested data are sent, which simplifies the transport. Lastly, the new version is binary and not textual, as the previous version was.

The result is a performance boost of up to 50%. You can test the difference here.

The most difficult thing about moving to HTTP/2 may not be HTTP/2 at all. Even though HTTP/2 doesn't require a secured website directly, browsers only support it over SSL.

Your first step towards HTTP/2 should hence be an SSL certificate.

Once you have a certificate, implementing HTTP/2 on your own is only possible if you administer your server. Otherwise, it all depends on your web hosting or server hosting company.

According to W3Techs, currently only about 7% leverage HTTP/2.

SSL certificate

Put simply, SSL certificates encrypt the connection between a server and a client. Obtaining a certificate is easier than you may think and you can get one for free with Let’s Encrypt.

Let’s Encrypt is a new certification authority that left public beta in the middle of April of 2016. The goal of Let’s Encrypt is to eliminate all the manual processes required for obtaining a certificate. with Let’s Encrypt, the whole process is automated and takes just a few minutes.

You can get a certificate through your web hosting provider. For those who administer their own server, this article provides a step-by-step installation tutorial.

Brotli

Brotli is a new compression algorithm introduced last fall by Google. In general, compression algorithms reduce the size of transported data.

Google reported that compared to the current solutions, Brotli offers 20-26% better compression ratio. As a consequence, you can save about 40% of your traffic on HTML files and about 25% on CSS and Javascript.

As of now, Brotli is only supported by Chrome and Firefox, other browsers to follow soon.

Regarding servers, major servers like Nginx, Apache and Node.js require a packet installation. No server offers Brotli by default at the moment.

CDN

A Content Delivery Network is a set of servers around the world. These servers contain copies of your site’s content (images, videos, software etc.). When accessed, your data loads from a server closer to the visitor and so the overall loading is much faster everywhere on the planet.

Another great advantage is the improved reliability of your site. As the content is spread around tens of servers, your web hosting server is spared a significant portion of traffic and therefore is better protected from crashing.

The result is a website loading faster by (on average) 50%. Usually even more.

Katarina Krizalkovicova

Katarina Krizalkovicova is a web designer at the content delivery network provider CDN77.com.

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