A Guide to Optimizing the Speed of Your Ecommerce Website

If there’s one thing that’s key for an online business, it’s an ecommerce website that can handle requests quickly. Optimizing for speed is a continuous and important part of building and maintaining an ecommerce website.

Without optimization, you risk paying more, losing visitors and conversions, and even damaging your brand and reputation. Add in a customer base with a shorter attention span than ever before, and you can see the dilemma.

Your ecommerce website speed has an impact on SEO and the customer experience when shopping with you. Slow websites result in fewer page views, reduced customer satisfaction and decreased sales.

The following are a few key practices that can ensure that your ecommerce website runs smoothly and continues to support your business goals. So how do you create the most efficient experience for your visitors?

Assess What You Already Have 

Before adding dozens of plugins and tools, it’s important to review where your ecommerce website stands. How many elements have to load on the home page? How many different fonts are employed? Are the images taking a while to load?

Consider employing a benchmark test using a free tool such as GTMetrix or Pingdom Tools to gather data on page load times, performance scores and more. Then, work on resolving one issue at a time and think through the results you want to see once the problem is fixed.

Enable Caching for Faster Load Times

Caching saves the outcome of different operations your site has to perform in order to produce your final content, then it serves the new, improved “product” to the next site visitor. With a good caching solution enabled and functioning, your site will be as fast as a static page until you make a change. Then, the cache will be refreshed and the next time will load the faster version of the page.

By caching content like product pages, your visitors can browse items seamlessly. All the content they view before they add items to the cart, log in or check out can employ object caching to reduce the number of demands on site performance. The easiest way to enable caching is through a plugin from your web hosting provider.

Optimize Images Without Sacrificing Quality 

Images are a key element and major traffic driver for your ecommerce website. If your site looks good, the products look good. Using a plugin to optimize and resize your images, without losing any of the quality, can resolve unnecessary data loading that bogs down sites.

The way your website theme handles images can also impact site performance. Sliders and carousels may be trendy, but they usually use a lot of JavaScript, significantly slowing download times. Replacing a slider featuring multiple images with one static, stellar image can cut down on load time and will also be more mobile and user friendly.

Setting up an ecommerce website that’s optimized for speed is not a one-time deal. As your site grows, any changes you make can impact the work you’ve already done, your sales numbers and your customer service efforts, making maintenance just as important a step as the others. Continue updating and testing new features and your site will be in prime shape for your customers before you know it.

Hristo Pandjarov is WordPress Initiatives Manager at SiteGround

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