World Wide Web: free and open

World Wide Web anniversary

On April 30th, 1993, the World Wide Web (WWW) became of public domain. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, published a statement that made it available to everyone with an open license. The WWW was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. At that time, there were other information systems competing with the web project, such as Gopher or WAIS. However, as the World Wide Web technology was free, open and simple, its adoption and development was unstoppable.

How did the WWW start?

As mentioned above, the World Wide Web was invented by the British physicist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, while working at CERN. The project was originally born to find a solution to share information more easily among physicists in universities and institutes worldwide. In 1990, he wrote the first web browser.

As explained in the CERN’s webpage about the birth of the web, the first website in the world was hosted in Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer and described the basic features of the WWW. It explained, for instance, how to set up a server and how to access documents. In 2013, CERN started a project to restore this first ever website, in order to preserve the digital assets related to the origins of the web.

While building the web, Berners-Lee also developed other essential technologies — widely known nowadays, for instance: the Uniform Resource Locator (URL), the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). In the following webpage, you can read the statement of the release of the web into the public domain.

The World Wide Web and the Internet

The World Wide Web has transformed the lives of millions of people worldwide, which use it daily to interact on the Internet. Both the WWW and the Internet are so interlinked and have become so present in our daily lives that many people often use both terms equally. Although they do not mean the same thing.

On one side, the WWW or “the web” is an information system where documents and other resources are accessible over the Internet, identified by URLs, which can be interlinked among them by hyperlinks. Users access web resources via the application-level Internet protocol HTTP or HTTPS. The HTTP protocol started at version 0.9 in 1991 and the current version is HTTP 3.0.

On the other side, the Internet is a global system of interconnected networks — public, private, academic, government and business. The Internet is also commonly known as the “network of networks” and infrastructures such as Internet Exchange Points help accelerate communications among all of them.

State of the Web

The web is constantly changing, as shown in the State of the Web report by HTTP Archive and other statistics about the usage of different technologies, protocols, etc. Let’s review some facts that reflect how the web evolves as new trends and technologies appear.

HTTPS implementation

According to the HTTP Archive’s State of the Web report, the implementation of HTTPS has considerably grown since 2016, from +21% in January 2016 to +92% in August 2022. 

Average HTTPS implementation on desktop versionAverage HTTPS implementation on mobile version
January 201624%21.8%
August 201630.1%28.9%
August 201749.4%50.1%
August 201875.7%77.4%
August 201981.4%79.9%
August 202087.7%86.9%
August 202192.3%91.3%
August 202293.7%92.8%

HTTP/3

According to data about the use of HTTP/3 on W3Techs, almost 25% of websites already use HTTP/3, as of September 2022.

This percentage varies significantly according to the HTTP Archive’s report; 14.8% on desktop and 15.2% on mobile. However, this report only presents the percentage of websites supporting HTTP/3 — to ensure accuracy in relation to the methodology used.

Web page weight

According to the HTTP Archive’s report, web pages continue to get heavier. Desktop web pages are about 1.5 Mb heavier in 2022 compared to data from 2012. Mobile web pages are about 1.7 Mb heavier.

Average web page size on desktop versionAverage web page size on mobile version
August 2012766.6 Kb301.7 Kb
August 2013948.5 Kb469.4 Kb
August 20141.18 Mb643.4 Kb
August 20151.38 Mb856.8 Kb
August 20161.49 Mb1.20 Mb
August 20171.63 Mb1.47 Mb
August 20181.51 Mb1.25 Mb
August 20191.94 Mb1.74 Mb
August 20202.09 Mb1.91 Mb
August 20212.17 Mb1.92 Mb
August 20222.26 Mb2.0 Mb

An excessive page size is one of the reasons that can slow down a page loading speed, negatively affecting user experience. However, the impact weight has on load times is mitigated thanks to improvements in networking, such as fiber optics, 4G and 5G.

Image size

Image size is another relevant aspect for reducing web page load times. On this matter, the HTTP Archive’s report shows valuable insights. While the number of images per page has dropped over the past decade, the weight of images has more than doubled over the same period of time.

Number of images per page

The number of images requested has halved on desktop versions over the last decade. However, it has remained the same on mobile — except for a considerable increase between 2015 and 2020.

Average number of image requests on desktop versionAverage number of image requests on mobile version
August 20124120
August 20134423
August 20144224
August 20154127
August 20164134
August 20174136
August 20183328
August 20193128
August 20202927
August 20212523
August 20222320

Transfer size of all images per page

From 2012 to 2022, the size of all the images requested by the page is almost 3 times bigger on desktop and about 6 times bigger on mobile.

Average size of the sum of images on a page on desktop versionAverage size of the sum of images on a page on mobile version
August 2012381 Kb145.6 Kb
August 2013494.8 Kb226.6 Kb
August 2014623.5 Kb293.1 Kb
August 2015703.8 Kb402 Kb
August 2016823.6 Kb611 Kb
August 2017868.9 Kb765.3 Kb
August 2018649.9 Kb493.4 Kb
August 2019981.4 Kb893.4 Kb
August 20201 Mb920 Kb
August 2021988.5 Kb881.9 Kb
August 20221.01 Mb875.9 Kb

Web servers usage

The 3 most popular web servers as of September 2022 are Nginx, Apache and Cloudflare Server, according to W3Techs’ data. Nginx, Apache and OpenResty, according to Netcraft’s data.

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