How can I improve my Shopify store
9 tips for optimizing Shopify page speed
Shopify is an incredibly accessible platform that allows large companies like Lindt to build and open their ecommerce store in just 5 days. It's easy to open a business and start trading in no time. It has numerous built-in features to make this process easier.
However, there are a few things that merchants need to be aware of in order to get the most out of their deals. The speed of the website remains one of these critical factors. A slow loading website has many disadvantages: from low engagement and high bounce rates to less traffic, lower sales, and even damaged search engine rankings (Google loves pages with a fast loading time), it makes sense to do whatever it takes to build a website as soon as possible.
In this article, we'll explore ways to evaluate your current website speed, then give you our top tips to make sure you're doing everything you can to increase the speed.
Here's how to check the current speed of your Shopify website
Use PageSpeed Insights to get a speed rating and suggestions for improvement. It separates desktop and mobile results and gives recommendations such as:
- Optimize your pictures
- Use browser caching and reduce the server's response time
- Avoid redirects
- Gzip compression It is not enough just to run the test on your homepage. It pays to test at least the ten most visited pages on your website. This is where speed improvements have the greatest impact.
I remember a client from another agency whose score dropped from 98 to 96 after making some changes to the website and who insisted on making other changes to improve the score. What they didn't understand could damage or undermine other areas of the website, and it wasn't the number in the score that was the determining factor, but the actual usability and speed of the website itself.
In summary, this is a good guide to get an idea of where you are at with the speed of your website, but not the be-all and end-all.
You can also use Pingdom or GTmetrix to rate page speed. Trying different tools will give you a broader view of speed performance, issues, and remedies.
This is how you increase the speed of your website
Once you have an idea of how your website works, you may have some recommended actions that stem from the tool you used to traverse your pages. If so, to add to that, here are our 9 top things you can do to increase your website speed.
1 Use AMP to make pages faster
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) improves the speed of page loading on mobile devices. The prerequisite is that the web pages are provided in a standard format (defined by Google) in order to reduce the page size and the loading time. For example, the entire content of the page is loaded at once and the browsers know the layout of the AMP pages in advance.
Although Shopify doesn't offer AMP versions of its stores by default, apps like RocketAmp are available on the App Store that allow you to create AMP versions of your store's pages on your behalf. Note that page fault issues can occur if you follow this route and later no longer use the app.
2 image optimization
Compressing your images is important in making web pages load faster, especially on ecommerce websites.
Image compression means taking the image at its original size and then reducing its file size without sacrificing quality.
You can use the following image formats with Shopify:
- JPEG or JPG
- Progressive JPEG
- GIF PNG images are useful when you need transparent pixels in your image (often they are displayed with a grid in the background marking the transparent part). However, they usually take up more space than JPEGs. So use JPEGs by default.
There are two levels of compression:
"Lossless Compression" which gives you a small file without affecting the image quality "Lossless Compression" which results in an even smaller file BUT a loss in image quality. Both options are available to you. However, as an ecommerce website selling products, images are likely to be an important part of getting customers to buy. In a recent survey of 1,500 online shoppers conducted by Eastside Co, 37.8% of respondents said that product images are "very or extremely influential" in their purchasing decisions. With this in mind, you should use lossless compression for smaller files, but not degradation.
When uploading images to your website, make sure that they are the size, in terms of pixel width and height, required for the page. You can use the free tool tinypng.com to reduce the size of your images.
3 Use a fast and responsive theme
If you're using a ready-to-use theme rather than the services of a Shopify expert like Eastside Co, choose one that is fast and responsive. This means that you will modify the elements on your webpage based on the dimensions of the device they are being viewed on for a better and faster user experience.
4 Check the apps installed in your store
Go to the administrator of your Shopify store, check all installed apps and remove any apps that you don't need or don't use. The problem behind the slower speed of Shopify websites is often the number of apps running on them: each of the apps you have installed contains more code on your website and more items to load.
In addition to apps, it's also worth looking at the third-party code your are using and doing a general cleanup when something is no longer needed.
5 Reduce the number of HTTP requests
There are a number of technical steps you can take to reduce the number of HTTP requests. This article contains 9 actions that will help you and increase the speed of your website.
6 Minimize broken links and redirects
Broken links can increase your HTTP requests (see point 5), and you don't want your visitors to land on them as this increases the likelihood that they will leave your store and shop elsewhere.
Unnecessary redirects (page A points to page B, which, for example, points to page C, which the visitor eventually lands on) means that your visitor will take longer to arrive and reduce the overall speed of the website.
Apps are available in the Shopify App Store that you can use to identify broken links and redirects and fix them on an ongoing basis.
7 Remove sliders and carousel images
Sliders persist on some websites, but we'd recommend a single hero image over a carousel of images. Why?
Hardly anyone ever clicks the first slide, let alone to see the second or third. Each slide adds weight to the page and since nobody really sees or uses them, they are largely redundant, even less effective on mobile devices. Instead, use a "hero" picture (optimized as described). It's all you need
8 Enter the entire tracking code via Google Tag Manager (GTM).
Move the third-party code you are using into the Google Tag Manager. Over time, marketing software or analytics code will be added to your website, which can become unwieldy. Using GTM means all third party code is easier to manage and only loads on the relevant pages. This also means that you can keep track and remove any elements that later become redundant.
9 Lazy shop
This is another easy way to increase the speed of your Shopify store. Lazy loading is a method where everything is not loaded until the user scrolls further down.
This is a great "cheat" for optimizing the speed on pages that are image-heavy or contain videos below. Essentially, just fetch items as needed, rather than loading everything at once. Learn how to implement deferred loading of CSS tricks in this in-depth guide.
So there you have it: 9 practical points to keep in mind to ensure that you are doing everything possible to increase the speed of your website. If you need any help with your Shopify store, from website speed to increasing sales, drop us a line!
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