Ecommerce is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Even with people staying safe at home, the need, or even urge, to shop has not gone away. Ecommerce has simply filled the gap, and Shopify has provided a great way for small businesses to do that.
However, you can’t just set up a Shopify store for the first time and expect it to work perfectly. Sure, you don’t need much technical expertise to get started, but you will definitely need patience to make your store the best it can be. One of the ways to maximize your store’s potential is easy enough to understand: make sure your website is as fast as possible.
Why Loading Time Matters
First, it’s important to understand why you want your Shopify store to load quickly in the first place. There are two basic reasons for this user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO). UX is all about making sure users find your website easy and pleasant to use, and SEO is about making sure they find it in the first place through search engines such as Google.
Slow websites are a pain. Seventy-three percent of users have run into websites that take too long to load. It’s said that every additional tenth of a second of loading time can drop conversion rates by 7%. Slow websites provide bad user experiences, and bad user experiences mean losing potential revenue.
SEO and user experience go hand in hand. Good UX design, a large part of which is making sure your website loads quickly, will lead to higher rankings in Google and other search engines. Improved SEO can bring a lot of leads your way, and if your site is loading quickly, you’ll already have an increased conversion rate too. That’s a powerful combination – more leads and a better conversion rate!
Don’t worry if this seems a bit intimidating at first. SEO seems more confusing than it actually is, and a lot of SEO comes down to having an organized site and a good loading time. If you want to learn more, we’ve written another separate post about how to improve SEO for your Shopify site.
For today, instead of going headfirst into the SEO rabbit hole, we’re going to focus simply on speed. What this really boils down to making sure everything on your storefront is optimized. Each individual web page needs to be optimized so it will load quickly. This can really lead to business growth if you do it well!
Odds are good that there are some straightforward fixes you can make off the bat that will speed up your Shopify store.
1. Remove apps you don’t use.
Remember the days when iPhones only had 8 or 16 GB of storage? Take a second and rewind to the days of having to delete apps to make room for your music. Shopify works like that.
If your store has app after app that you are not using, it might be slowing the site down. Consider purging unneeded apps and reap the benefits of faster load times.
2. Optimize images.
Images take a long time to load, which is unfortunate since good eCommerce stores typically have a lot of them. Generally speaking, there are two reasons why images would take a long time to load: they’re either too large or they’re the wrong filetype. If you want fast-loading images, use the smallest images you can and use JPG images as often as possible.
3. Optimize fonts.
One major trend in web design is using web fonts. Web fonts are useful because you can pull fonts from other websites, such as Google, for use on your store. Unfortunately, if you don’t set this up right, people who load your site will have to wait for the other website where the fonts are stored before your site will load.
Yes, this can get confusing quickly. Under point 5 of this article, Shopify describes a useful fix that can be used to get around this problem. Basically, you load a widely available font and then switch it before your customer notices, thus cutting down on the time a customer has to wait before your website is useable.
4. Install a lazy loader.
Lazy loading is when web pages load images and other assets only when they are needed. It helps visitors feel like your store is loading faster than it is. This is usually pretty easy to set up – all you need to find is the right app. Shopify goes into more detail on how to do this in their blog post here.
5. Make sure your theme isn’t slowing you down.
Could your Shopify theme be affecting your site speed? It could be. When themes don’t work properly, they can slow down your page.
I actually didn’t know very much about how Shopify themes could slow down performance before writing this article. Consider what Shopify advises below:
Certain features, when enabled, might also affect your store speed. For example, some quick view pop-ups pre-load information from every product page when a collection page loads. Loading extra data your customers aren’t using can impact your store speed without adding value.
If you think that a feature is slowing down your store, you can take the following steps:
- Use a heatmap tool to see if customers are using certain features. Disable features if they are not being used.
- Disable the feature if you don’t need it. Consider the balance between online store features and speed.
- Consult your theme and app developers and ask if they are preloading data.
– Improving your online store speed by Shopify
6. Eliminate pop-ups and lightboxes.
Pop-ups are common on eCommerce stores as they prompt customers to take advantage of a sale, or provide additional information so you can stay in touch. They get a bit dicey when overused, though. Not only can they be annoying, but they slow down your site too.
We aren’t saying to take out all of your pop-ups. It’s a delicate balancing act, after all, and you have to figure out which ones specifically are worth it. However, if you notice that your website is slow and you’re not sure why, consider turning some of them off.
7. Find a good CDN.
You want your Shopify store to function as fast as possible – so sometimes it makes sense to have a content delivery network, or CDN, load images for you. Here’s the basic idea:
A Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a group of servers dispersed around the world. It distributes the content delivery load through the server closest to your visitor’s location, making local user experiences faster.
Shopify offers a world-class CDN powered by Fastly at no extra cost. Shopify stores will come up almost instantaneously anywhere in the world, including the U.S., U.K., South America, southern Africa, the Australia and New Zealand (APAC) region, and Asia.
– Improve Your Ecommerce Site Performance & Speed to 2X Conversions by Andrea Wahbe
Luckily, if you’re a Shopify Plus user, the CDN is built right into the service. If you’re not a Shopify Plus user, consider upgrading. It might speed up your loading time!
Speeding up your Shopify store is easy to do with a few simple steps. Better yet, you can speed up your site while maintaining the curb appeal that brings in your customers in the first place – they just see it a lot faster!
Remember: every tenth of a second you can speed up your site makes a difference in the number of conversions you see. That adds up really quickly. Even small improvements can turn into big revenue-generating wins.