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Shopify Speed Optimization: Actionable Techniques for Faster eCommerce


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There are a multitude of reasons why Shopify is so popular. It gives you great tools to attract traffic to your online store and then convert them into loyal customers. However, nothing in life is perfect.

Even the most eye-catching web design with all of the bells and whistles to make purchases and delivery a breeze aren’t enough if the site is slow. Customers will quickly jump ship without buying anything if they have to wait for a website to load. Time is precious, and most people are notoriously impatient. A slow website remains one of the core pains for any eCommerce owner. 

Start Optimising the Shopify Store 

If you aren’t seeing the numbers you want, then it’s time to start optimising your Shopify store. Shopify speed optimization is the first step. Let’s get down to the basics and explore a few steps. 

The following pains occur when a website loads slowly:

  • High abandonment/bounce rate (studies show that people will leave a site if it takes longer than two seconds to load);
  • Low conversions;
  • Bad brand sentiment;
  • After experiencing low speeds, many will never return to the site again.

Choose a Lightweight Shopify Theme (Original Data) 

It’s time to pick a Shopify theme with some speed. Such a simple trick and really put your website in a position to perform. It’s an unfortunate reality, but some themes have a lot of unnecessary things that immediately start impacting your site’s speed. A lightweight theme will give you the push your site needs to immediately perform like a speed racer from the gate. 

We took the time to look at over 200 templates that you can easily pick and choose between on the Shopify Theme Store.  

Here are a few of our choices: 

From Google PageSpeed Insights you’ll want to make note of  Time To Interactive (TTI) and First Contentful Paint (FCP). 

Maybe our choices aren’t your best picks, but these are definite considerations for Shopify optimize speed choices. Take some time to check each one out. We feel confident that you’ll find something that grabs your attention. 

Dive deeper into: 21 Must-Have Shopify Apps | Come In Handy Every Merchant in 2021 Reality

Reduce Large Image Sizes

Reducing image size is an old trick to push speed on a Shopify site, but it’s definitely worthy of trying. We understand that you want your site to look impressive with lots of images to grab attention and push the products you are trying to sell. People are visual creatures, so images speak volumes. In verticals, they are a necessity, so you can showcase products. 

Without a doubt, these images are great for upping the UX and creating a brand persona, but you need to be aware that the trade-off of so much glitz is speed. Your site’s performance is going to start slowing – this is especially true if the image files are larger than standard CSS and HTML. All of those pictures are like an anchor, creating excessive page weight. 

Resizing images can help improve the speed and is definitely worth a try. 

Compress Images

If you want your pictures and also to enjoy speed, then compressing the images becomes a necessity. There are Shopify apps that will help you compress the images. You can also turn to websites that compress images, but you’ll have to download the picture and then re-upload it to the website. After you compress it then you will download and re-upload again to replace the uncompressed image.  Remember, Shopify site optimization is your goal to enhance speed, so you need to pay special attention to the images. 

Shopify does cater to WebP images from JPEG and PNG. 

You might also want to try the Shopify App Crush.pics and Optimizilla

Replace GIFs With Static Images 

GIFs are great because they encourage interaction and have become very popular in eCommerce stores. They promote your brand nicely, but they are big (some enormous). Two GIFs can take up 10MG or more. 

Shopify speed optimization

One GIF + 2.8MG

Even though you might like them, ask yourself if the slower speed is worth it. Maybe you should consider replacing it with a static image?  You will save valuable resources and increase Shopify speed optimization. 

Dive deeper into: eCommerce Website Requirements: 12 Essential Tips to Know Before Build Out Online Store

Lazy Load Images

Our team sat down and started running various Shopify sites through what is referred to as PageSpeed Insights.  The recommendation that we kept getting repeatedly stated the following – dever off-screen image.  What does that mean? Simply, it means that the site’s images are loading together at once. 

how to optimize Shopify store speed

If a Shopify site uses a ton of images, then lazy loading can load a bunch of images at one time. You want the images to the only load as the user scrolls down.  Implementing lazyload libraries is a great way to speed things along when there is a bunch of images involved.  It’s definitely a trick you can use when learning how to optimise Shopify store speed.

 Limit Third-Party JavaScript & Shopify Apps

Third-party JavaScript and Shopify Apps can all impact speed. You’ll need to regularly review all tracking codes. Discuss the situation with the marketing and development team to determine how often the third party speed suckers are actually being used and if they are ‘must have’.  If there is a better option then you might want to with it instead. At the end of the day, you’ll want to measure the benefits you get to determine if they are worth the performance trade-off.

Our team carried out a little research. Here is a list of third-party apps that Shopify regularly uses which are speed suckers.  

The use of any of these can slow your site’s performance. You need to evaluate if you need them or not when you decide to undergo Shopify site optimization. 

Migrate Tracking Codes To Google Tag Manager 

Shopify is notorious for using a lot of apps – which bears a remarkable similarity to WordPress plugins. The apps let you create functionality with ease, so you don’t have to turn to an expensive web developer. Sure they are a great way to add to your site (so are third party scripts) but there is a cost that might be too steep. The apps are going to slow down your site’s performance.

Is that something you want to happen? 

When learning how to optimise Shopify store speed, you might have to break free of the apps, even though it’s hard. Apps are speed suckers. Every single time you add an app or a script, your site faces a number of requests. Too many and the site’s performance starts to decrease. 

how to optimize Shopify store speed - How Shopify uses third party tracking codes

How Shopify Uses Third-Party Tracking Codes

If your site is slowing down, then it’s time to review the tracking codes of the Shopify Apps and third party resources that are being used. Figure out if you actually need the feature and if they are a must-have.

Can you pick a lighter weight choice?

Is the benefit really worth the slowdown?

Run Your Store Through Google PageSpeed Insights

Let’s make use of Google PageSpeed Insights which is a smoking hot speed testing tool that is a great and handy gadget to evaluate your site’s speed. When you launch it, it analyses your site and then gives you metrics, so you know how the site is performing. Best of all, you’ll also get recommendations on how to improve your site’s speed and overall performance. 

To use this tool, all you do is enter the page where you want to test the performance date. 

Shopify site optimization

Once entered, you’ll see something like the above screenshot. 

You’ll see the following: 

  • First Contentful Paint: This shows you the speed it takes for the content to load. It lets the user know the content has started to load. 
  • Time To Interactive: This lets you know how long it takes before the user can interact with the page. 

We like to think of this as real benchmark data, so you can compare it to everything and figure out site speed improvements, so you can better pursue Shopify speed optimization

Remove Quick Shop Functionality 

When learning how to optimise Shopify store speed, you’ll encounter the choice of removing quick shop functionality. It can hurt load speeds and also impact conversion speeds. If you don’t lazy load images then you should remove it.

What Site Speed Optimizations Does Shopify Already Have? 

Shopify knows speed is king, so they do have some Shopify site optimization tricks that can help. Once you sit down and create your Shopify site then you’ll be happy to know that they have implemented the following performance features for you: 

  • Leverage Browser Caching: Shopify steps to the plate on this one and starts to cache your internal resources. The process lets some of your images be stored within users browsers, so they are not re-downloaded. You store experience at greater speed.
  • CDN: Shopify relies on the Fastly CDN. A CDN (Content Delivery Network) allows your site’s content to be stored on servers located all around the globe. It even reduces the distance between users and content. Lowering the physician distance actually improves your site’s performance considerably. 

Read more: How to Reach eCommerce Domination: Key Elements for a Successful eCommerce Website

Final Thoughts 

We live in a world that is always short on time. Our lives are rushed on a daily basis, so your site has to meet the speed requirements of a generation of doers.  Shopify speed optimization is a crucial necessity for any site. 

If you follow the checklist then your site will enjoy the faster performance: 

  1. Focus on a light theme 
  2. Compress your images
  3. Try Lazy Load
  4. Limit JavaScript and Shopify apps
  5. Use Google PageSpeed Insights
  6. Remove quick shop functionality 
  7. Look at Shopify site speed optimizations 

Everyone needs a little help sometimes. Our team of experts at WebMeridian can work with you to increase your Shopify site’s speed substantially. Contact us today to learn more. Order our all-in-one services, so we can start helping solve your tech challenges! Shopify site optimization is one of our many specialities. 

WebMeridian - Magento Website Development

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