What does HTTP stand for, and why does it matter?

http is short for “hypertext transfer protocol” – or the way your browser gets information. And it matters because it’s how you get your information. It’s the format that was created to get your information from that news site to your device – mobile phone to desktop computer and everything in between.

Getting slightly more technical, the protocol (or set of rules) sets up the structure around which data is transferred from a server, like Amazon (affiliate link), over to your computer/device’s browser. Just like you drive a certain car to work, the protocol defines the car that gets you to work. For example, what tires it has, color, shape, sunroof, heated seats, etc. But imagine everyone is driving that exact same car (since everyone uses http or https). It’s the way to get information from A to B over the web – the info you’re trying to get is wrapped inside that http car, and that standard lets you and your browser know how to communicate. Your browser knows to expect the information to appear in a certain way, and to send it out (because you fill out a form) in a certain way that both sides can read it.

HTTP Also Comes With Statuses


  • 401 – unauthorized access (password required so you can’t access it)
  • 404 – site or page is missing (a page has been removed or renamed and there is no redirect in place – example 404 page)
  • 500 – internal server error (something on the website went wrong – it’s them and not you)


HTTP. (2015, May 28). Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://techterms.com/definition/http

Beal, V. (n.d.). HTTP – HyperText Transfer Protocol. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/H/HTTP.html