Ways to Supercharge Your eCommerce Site Speed

In today’s world of eCommerce, site speed, and performance of your online store is of top importance. A slow homepage load time can cripple a store and significantly decrease conversions. Online shoppers see a slow loading store as being unprofessional. The shopping environment itself devalues the products being sold by simply underperforming and not providing immediacy to its users. Even SEO takes a hit, as search engines are reluctant to display results from sites with slow load times. Depending on the platform used to build an online store, there are many aspects of the store that can have a negative impact on load times and performance. Fortunately, there are many things a store developer can do to minimize the impact of these items and speed up their store.

Keep reading to discover our top tips for boosting eCommerce speed and performance.

 

Finding the Right Functional and Secure Host

Hosting has the single greatest impact on eCommerce speed. No matter how simplistic the design or light the framework of a store, a poor hosting environment will guarantee slow load times and lost conversions. Any database driven store needs a dedicated server and a host that is in the country where the majority of customers shop. The hosting environment you choose should be flexible enough to handle large increases in traffic. Click here to learn more about our powerful eCommerce hosting environments.

 

Reduce Unnecessary and Heavy HTML Requests

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When an online shopper visits a site, their browser must make several HTML requests to load all of the images, styles, JavaScript, and product photos that make up a page. Reducing the amount of requests that the browser has to make will speed up load time significantly. In order to do this, a developer or designer must compress all Javascript and CSS files, sprite images in order to reduce styling related requests, and reduce the size of images as much as possible. If separate images must be used during styling, all images should be kept as close to 10KB as possible without sacrificing too much quality. Additionally, storing all product photos on another server environment will reduce the amount of HTML requests on your server. Utilizing a service like Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) will take some of the pressure off of your hosting environment and speed up the time it takes to load multiple product images on a page. Here are a few links that will help reduce images sizes, sprite background graphics, and reduce requests from your server:

 

Caching

Most database-driven eCommerce platforms will allow caching to be done on the store. Rather than reloading page assets on every single page a user visits, global elements will remain cached be the browser so that only new elements will involve browser requests. For our eCommerce platform of choice, Magento, this involves caching of sidebar blocks, layout elements and instructions, translation files, and store configuration. Once the store these elements have been loaded by the browser, they will not need to be generated again until the cache is flushed. Varnish caching can also be utilized. All of this caching will take the pressure off your server, decrease load times, and increase the speed of your eCommerce website.

 

Test Your Environment

There are many tools available that allow developers to test their store's speed and performance. Both Google and Yahoo! provide tools that analyze site speed and provide feedback for increasing load times. A store can also be run through a web page analyzer like this one. For Magento users, there are more specific tools to analyze your Magento speed. The Magento Speed Test allows you to test your store for a specific amount of time and users. All of these tools are low-cost options for checking your performance and making upgrades to your theme and environment.

These are just a few of the many ways developers can reduce load times for their online stores and prepare their store environments for heavy traffic. Store speed is an important topic and I have written about this before. If there are other tools or knowledge that you would like to share, we encourage you to join the discussion below. As always, you can always contact us to discuss any of your eCommerce needs.