There are very few eCommerce platforms on the market that are as robust and flexible as Magento. However, with any complex online store comes the risk of increased load times and potential lost conversions due to slow site performance. Recent studies have shown that just a one second delay during page loads can reduce conversions by 7%. There are several steps that can be taken to optimize a Magento site. Here are a few of the basic measures that can be taken to speed up the user's shopping experience.

1. Decrease the number of HTML requests

An HTML request occurs anytime a browser fetches a page, picture, script, style sheet, or any other type of file from a server. Considering the number of product photos, data, sharing tools, and scripts that are typically used for an eCommerce site, HTML requests are typically high. A standard Magento store could easily eclipse 150 HTML requests without the proper optimization techniques. The first place to improve site speed is with CSS style sheets. Reduce the number of images being loaded for site styling by creating image sprites. This combines several images into one to turn several HTML requests into one single request. Ensure that there are no missing or unneeded images being included in the site style sheet. Magento includes developer settings that merge all CSS and JavaScript files. With the proper testing, enabling these settings could cut requests down significantly. For those familiar with the Magento system administration, these settings can be found under System-Configuration-Developer.

Above are sprite examples from a few high traffic websites. The far left image is the Apple main menu sprite. Google's main sprite is on the top right and an Amazon sprite image is on the bottom right.

2. Ensure system is updated and W3C compliant

The powerful Magento system is always improving itself with new security updates and changes in general structuring. Keeping your store up-to-date with the latest improvements will help with site speed and performance. Also, be sure that the general markup of the store theme is W3C compliant. The W3C, or  World Wide Web Consortium, is an international community that work to establish web standards that bring websites and applications to their full potential. Following W3C standards will prevent browser load errors and increase speed. Please visit the W3C here for more information on structuring standards.

3. Hosting

At the end of the day, the hosting you choose for your store will have a greatest impact on its speed and performance. While a shared hosting solution may be the best economical choice for your business, a Virtual Private Server will provide more bandwidth and reliability. With a VPS solution, there is no need to fear a large increase of traffic bringing the store to a crawl.

If you have concerns about the speed of your store or would like to learn more about eCommerce design and development at Unleashed Technologies, please contact us today or join us at the upcoming eCommerce Forum in Baltimore to get your questions answered in person. As a Magento Silver Solutions Partner, the team at Unleashed is here to help ensure that your store is secure and current. We will be happy to help your store grow and increase your conversions!