Push Your Website Into Overdrive With These 5 Speed-Boosting Tips for Maximum Performance
The year is 1839. Outside the only watering hole located within a hundred miles, two stone-faced combatants stand twelve paces apart along a lonely, windswept desert road. At one end, the villainous outlaw cowboy who’s hit every bank and casino across the southwest. On the other, the courageous county sheriff who’s looking to bring him to justice. Showdown at high noon. The fastest gun wins. Be quick or be dead.
Okay, so maybe owning and operating an Internet retail business isn’t exactly a matter of life and death like it is for the two gunslingers in our story, but speed can definitely impact your earning potential for better or worse. What we’re talking about here is website loading speed. Speed–more appropriately, the LACK of speed–is a killer. According to this article from Medium, 52% of online shoppers cite website performance as a detrimental factor to their site loyalty. 47% of shoppers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% will leave if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Poor website performance is the online retail world’s equivalent to to rude salespeople. If shoppers are being turned away by slow-loading websites, this will not only negatively affect your business’s sales and revenue, it will hurt your overall standing with search engines. And there’s nothing more disheartening than opening up shop just to see your shoppers taking their business elsewhere.
There are plenty of free website speed tests available if you do a search. Go ahead. Try one out. If your website checks out and everything’s all in perfect working order, pages are loading in lightning-fast speeds, then you can probably stop reading this and go about your day. But if you’re being passed up and your site is showing some serious lag, we’ve got 5 easy tips on how to put some horsepower into your pages and decrease those lengthy loading times.
#1: Optimize Images for Web Use
Websites rely on eye-pleasing, captivating design layouts and imagery to help engage their visitors. In ecommerce, this is even more important as product pages have to act as the “silent salesperson” in lieu of shoppers physically walking into a store and being able to see and touch the merchandise for themselves. In one of our earlier entries, How to Optimize Your Product Page for Higher Conversion, we list product photography as a factor to help improve customer conversion rates. Clear, detailed photographs can aid the customer in making the decision to purchase. However, the higher the image resolution, the longer it will take for the item to load thus, affecting the page loading time. Super high-resolution photos are not necessary for web use as they’re better suited for print work. Cut down image resolution and optimize to drastically cut down those load times. The JPEG format is the best for retaining image quality, color saturation, and clarity through compression but be mindful of the compression technique, as well as the image dimensions, to reduce artifacting. If possible, avoid GIFs unless a transparent background is absolutely necessary. GIFs can be quite weighty in size and, in smaller document dimensions, resolution can suffer. Using a PNG image will also suffice if you wish to show an image with a transparent background, but be warned that some browsers have difficulty in handling .png files and these may not properly display on screen. NEVER use .PSD or .BMP formats.
#2: Limit the Use of Apps, Add-Ons, and Integrations
BigCommerce does a pretty good job with their packaging of regularly-used features as standard equipment, but additional third-party apps and integrations allow for even greater expanded functionality of your ecommerce webstore. Some apps are essential to the overall usability of your site and are non-negotiable; the webstore will not function without them. Others, however, are non-essential and act more as customer convenience tools and UX enhancements. Are these kinds of apps nice to have for your site’s visitors? Yes. Are they absolutely 100% important? No. Too many supplemental apps and add-on integrations run the risk of not only slowing down your website’s performance, but they can also potentially cripple your page entirely (see BigCommerce VS. Shopify: The Shopify Ceiling). Some apps and integrations don’t play well with others; this can be attributed to the custom coding required to write said app and integration that is specific to your webstore’s exact needs. Before you start adding random miscellaneous apps to your ecommerce website, do the research and find out which ones are compatible with each other and the ecommerce platform on which your site is based. Also, determine which apps are absolutely crucial for your store and which ones are there just for UX filler. Make no mistake, UX is a major part of online customer satisfaction, but it should never come at the cost of functionality and website reliability. The more apps and add-ons there are, that’s more data that needs to be transmitted and more data means more time required to load.
#3: Reduce Render Blocking Files
#5: Limit the Number of Redirects
Almost all websites have undergone some sort of revision over the course of their individual lifetimes. Things get added, deleted or, as often is the case, the sites themselves move to entirely new platforms. If you’re new to BigCommerce and have recently made the transition from another platform, chances are the data from your old website had to get migrated over to the fancy new BigCommerce site. If you had any legacy content that you wish to transfer over to your new site, you would use a 301 redirect. 301 redirects are a necessary evil; your website loads elements other than straight code and redirects are part of those other elements. Any redirect is going tack on more page loading time but without them, your new site’s navigation may not be complete and the site might not be as visible to search engines as it once was. They’re recommended for SEO use; many websites that neglect to redirect their old content often suffer the consequences of losing their pre-established SEO ranks and drop further down the search engine results. Google suggests eliminating non-essential, unnecessary redirects. They recommend to not link to pages that already have known redirects on them as well as not using multiple redirects per one resource. This creates needlessly complicated redirect chains that only handicap your ecommerce website’s performance. Find and remove old redirects and redirect chains (for secure sites, use HSTS to remove SSL redirects). You can check your .htaccess file or other server config files for any old legacy redirects.
BONUS: The AMP Project for Google
Mobile technology is rapidly becoming the preferred method for which people will use for Internet access. This includes anything from social media to ecommerce. According to this chart by statista, the number of mobile shoppers in the United States has seen significant yearly increases, from 122.9 million shoppers in 2013 to 188.4 million in 2017. That’s a substantial growth of 53.3% over the course of only 4 years. 2018 is projected to gain another 5.5% as the total climbs towards 200 million total shoppers. The AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project is an open-source technology that’s designed to allow for publishers to create mobile-friendly content that’s not only compelling and cutting-edge, but also loads rapidly and in an efficient manner. AMP is supported by a vast range of platforms, vendors, and partners and is compatible across the most popular web browsers in use today, including Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox. AMP pages use 3 core components, AMP HTML, AMP JS Library, and the Google AMP Cache. All of which use pre-existing technology and frameworks and enhances them for optimal mobile use. The AMP Project for Google takes your AMP pages and further refines them for easier integration into the Google search engine. Google Search indexes AMP pages and purposely features them on mobile search (results and rankings for mobile sites differ between Google Mobile Search and standard Google Search). The Google AMP Cache will make AMP pages load even faster by saving valid AMP content published to the web in an AMP-dedicated cache of its own. For webstore owners, AMP integration across Google’s already ecommerce-friendly features will act as a complete overhaul of your Internet-based business. There will be AMP-enhanced Google Analytics, Google Adwords, DoubleClick, and other Google Shopping tools to help boost your website’s performance. BigCommerce has recently added native support for AMP pages, making it possible for more than 55,000 merchants on BigCommerce to reach an even broader audience across the Internet. It’s another, among an already impressive list of advantages that BigCommerce ecommerce websites have over the competition.
To learn more about how Diztinct can help you optimize your ecommerce website for maximum earning potential, feel free to contact us or read about our services. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook.