HTTP/2 and IPv6: Making Websites Faster and More Available

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Director Communications, Internet Society
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August 13, 2020

A recent report – Milliseconds make Millions – commissioned by Google and published by Deloitte, has shown that mobile website speed has a direct impact on user experience. Reducing latency and decreasing load times by just 0.1 second can positively affect conversion rates potentially leading to an increase in net earnings.

Over a four-week period, Deloitte’s research team analyzed mobile web data from 37 retail, travel, luxury, and lead generation brands throughout Europe and the U.S. Results showed that by decreasing load time by 0.1s, the average conversion rate grew by 8% for retail sites and by 10% for travel sites. The team also observed an increase in engagement, page views, and the amount of money spent by website visitors when sites loaded faster.

Multiple studies have consistently shown that faster page load speeds will result in better conversion rates. Akamai’s 2017 Online Retail Performance Report, for example, showed that a 100-millisecond delay in website load time can reduce conversion rates by 7% and that over half (53%) of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.

HTTP/2 and IPv6: Faster and More Available

There’s good news: making some relatively simple changes to your webserver configuration could help to improve your website’s user experience as well as making it more available.

Implementing HTTP/2, for example, can speed up webserver performance by enabling browsers to download multiple files simultaneously over the same connection. This means that all of the files needed to display a webpage effectively are downloaded faster, enabling users to access content sooner.

And, as more and more people come online it’s likely that they will be connecting via IPv6 rather than over IPv4: over 90% of Reliance Jio’s 387.5 million 4G subscribers connect to the Internet via IPv6. So, by ensuring that your website is available over IPv6, the number of users that could potentially visit your site is greatly increased. IPv6 also optimizes the route that Internet traffic takes, which can also lead to improved website performance.

Improve Your Website

The Internet Society’s Open Standards Everywhere (OSE) project promotes the use of open Internet standards that can help to improve website speed, security, and availability. We’re working to equip everyone with the knowledge to make simple changes to some of the most widely used webservers (including NGNIX and Apache) by providing simple how-to guides to enabling HTTP/2 and IPv6 as well as other standards, including TLS 1.3 and DNSSEC.

First, test your website to see how well it supports open Internet standards. If you’re at 100%, congratulations: your website users are already getting a more enhanced experience! If you don’t quite get a perfect score, we might be able to help.

If you have access to the administrative interface of your webserver:
Take a look at our crowdsourced step-by-step documentation to see how you can make improvements. Once you’ve implemented the latest open standards, test your website again and see whether your score has improved. You can also consider contributing your experience to our documentation to help others make changes.

If you use a Content Delivery Network (CDN):
Businesses, large and small, often use CDN services to optimize their websites. Most CDNs enable HTTP/2 and IPv6 by default even if these protocols are not enabled on the original webserver, so your website could already be offering an improved user experience. Check with your CDN if you are unsure and ask them to enable these protocols if they have not done so already.

If you are using a hosting company and cannot access your webserver to make changes:
There is unfortunately not much that you can do to make changes to your webserver. You could switch to a provider that does offer its customers the option to enable HTTP/2 and IPv6 and other open Internet standards. Or you could contact your provider and ask them if they are planning on implementing these standards for their customers in the near future.

We’re in the process of developing short tutorials and training courses to further support people who want to make improvements. We’ll launch these over the coming months.

Making the Case

The conclusions are clear: as the number of consumers connecting to the Internet increases, those businesses that can deliver a faster online user experience for visitors will benefit from a higher conversion rate than those that can’t.

But it’s not just online retailers and e-commerce that should be paying attention: any call to action on your website can be considered a conversion. Requesting signatures for an online petition, asking people to support community networks, or recruiting new members for an Internet Society Chapter could all potentially be positively impacted by increased website speeds.

So what are you waiting for? Find out how to take action now.

This article first appeared on the Internet Society blog on 13 August, 2020.
Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay