Written by AJ Leale, Sr. Director eCommerce
Time is money and if your eCommerce site is not saving time for consumers or, worse yet, if it’s costing them time as they wait for the page to refresh, they will most likely move on to your competitor. This means your brand has lost a customer — and for reasons that you can easily avoid..
However fantastic your site may be, if it’s not opening fast enough, it won’t generate sales for your business.
Here are six ways to improve website speed and stop customers from leaving your site.
1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) represents a group of servers dispersed around the world. They distribute the content delivery load through the server closest to a visitor’s location, serving cached content, which means the original servers won’t need to deliver the same content all over again and user experiences will be much faster.
Since most eCommerce websites are going global, having a CDN is a non-negotiable part of providing a good platform performance.
Hosting providers only charge for bandwidth or the data that is transferred to or from the original server. Caching most of a website’s content within a content delivery network means far less data will need to be transferred, resulting in significant bandwidth cost savings.
2. Constantly Optimize Mobile Performance
Shopping via mobile devices is a growing trend that will only become more significant in the coming years. Mobile commerce sales are projected to reach $319 billion annually by 2020.
Having a mobile-friendly website is beginning to outrank SEO in importance for eCommerce businesses.
It also shows you competitors’ mobile site performance, and seeing what they did wrong can help you avoid making the same mistakes.
Another Google tool, Test My Site, helps calculate how site speed can boost your mobile conversion rates.
Brands famous for their top-notch mobile performance include Nike, Lush, and Etsy.
3. Optimize Image Size
Images can account for nearly 75 percent of a web page’s total weight. The higher the quality of the images, the heavier they will be. Compression of images can greatly improve page speed without reducing image quality.
Numerous tools exist for compressing images. Among the most popular are Tiny JPG and Image Compressor.
Trimming down the number of images used overall is another good tactic.
It’s also important to pay attention to empty image sources in your code, which appear as <img src = ‘ ’>. They can be an excess burden on the browser by sending yet another request to the main server.
A simple fix for this is “sprites,” which improve page speed by consolidating multiple images into one, thus limiting the number of individual image requests sent to the server.
4. Minify and Combine Files and Enable Compression
Since these extremely important files determine a website’s performance, they also add to the number of requests a site makes with every user visit.
Also, the smaller the files are, the faster the page will load, so one of the easiest ways to reduce page load time is by compressing files.
Gzip is a software application and a file format that locates strings of similar code in text files and then temporarily replaces them with the smaller ones, and enabling compression with Gzip is standard eCommerce practice.
This works especially well with CSS and HTML files since they have repeated code and whitespace.
Most web servers on the internet can compress files in the Gzip format before sending them for download. This is typically done by calling a third-party module or by using built-in functions. Gzipping generally reduces the response size by nearly 70 percent.
Check Gzip Compression is a great tool that lets you see whether the Gzip format is enabled or not for your site.
5. Reduce the Number of Plugins Used on a Site
Plugins can do a lot to improve the functionality of a site. They can help clean up code, improve user experience, add custom functionality, and more.
They’re extremely handy because they eliminate the need for changing code when working on the site.
However, having too many plugins can slow the site and create security issues, crashes, and other technical difficulties.
A good practice is to evaluate installed plugins regularly. Those that are outdated or incorrectly configured could be hurting your website’s speed, and deactivating and removing unnecessary plugins can significantly decrease load time.
6. Create a Performance Monitoring Process
By making site speed an operational goal that is monitored and optimized, your site will continue to improve its speed. If you want to add something that will slow it down, try to optimize another area to compensate for the addition. Keeping a constant eye on your site performance should be as important as SEO or site design.
Incorporating a good performance tool into your process allows you to maintain your speed by checking minification of scripts, finding large images, testing time to first byte (TTFB), measuring the performance of the content delivery network, and more.
Once again, Google’s Page Insights is one of the most commonly used tools. Pingdom and Gmetrix are also useful and worth considering.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. If your website speed is slow, new customers will be more likely to visit once and never return. Existing customers will purchase less and some of them will never return to your website. Lower website load time will increase both customer spending and brand loyalty.
Contact us and let us help you improve your page speed with technology implementation and maintenance of your eCommerce site.