When it comes to user experience, speed is one of the most consequential elements that determine your e-commerce website’s success. Each and every ticking second becomes precious, so much so that an improvement of one second in your website speed can increase the mobile transactions by 27%.
There are a few well-known tried and tested ways to speed up your online store. You will find many resources that mention optimizing image sizes, reading HTTP requests, and switching your hosting services.
This blog dives deeper into these techniques and provides some useful underrated techniques that can actually bring about a noticeable increase in your e-commerce website’s speed. Let’s get started.
1. Assess Third-Party Extensions
Every e-commerce store needs to use third-party extensions in some way, shape, or form. While incorporating any number of extensions has nothing to do with the site speed and most of them result in streamlining your online store’s performance, it is always best to keep a check on these extensions.
When they come with a huge amount of custom functionality, unstable code, and bad content the site speed reduces substantially. You can keep a check on such extensions through the following steps:
- Recognize the scripts or tags that are flagged a slow and rectify them through Chrome DevTools
- Try using the async/ defer instructions or resource hints wherever possible to decrease the loading time
- Test every JS modification thoroughly on a staging site before they are pushed live
2. Improve The Time To First Byte (TTFB)
While we can tolerate stoplights and microwave ovens for up to two minutes, we can’t stand waiting for a web page to load for less than three seconds. This is where the “time to first byte” (TTFB) becomes crucial.
TTFB functions as a responsive element. It does not state that the site will load faster, only that it will begin to do so. A low TTFB, on the other hand, usually indicates that a site is faster and more responsive.
For a good user experience, a site that responds quickly to clicks is essential. In fact, site responsiveness may be more significant for SEO than the time it takes for the site to fully load. According to Google, a TTFB of less than 200 milliseconds is excellent. However, the most recent version of its PageSpeed tool does not raise an alert unless the time exceeds 600 milliseconds.
There are a slew of things to look into to figure out what’s causing your TTFB to be delayed. If you see that your assets are taking a long time to produce the initial byte, you should analyze the problem and make any required modifications to improve your site’s speed. The following are some of the most common reasons why your TTFB is slower than usual:
- Problems with networking
- Server capacity issues (disc I/O, RAM, and network limitations)
- Configuration and design of the database
You can incorporate browser caching or a content delivery network (discussed ahead) to reduce the TTFB significantly.
3. Use Browser Caching
When a browser caches crucial files that make up your site, it is known as browser caching. This means that when a visitor returns to your site, their browser won’t have to download every file from your servers all over again. It just needs to request certain files or even parts of individual pages that are likely to have been changed (like the logo image). Because the amount of queries made to the server is reduced, this significantly boosts load times.
Adding a short piece of code to your HTTP headers to establish expiry periods for certain files is a reasonably simple method for enabling caching. As the pages are frequently subject to time-sensitive adjustments about price during campaigns, reviews for the products, delivery information provided by international courier services, and so on, browser caching can be a little challenging for online merchants.
As a result, it’s critical to distinguish between files that provide genuinely stable material – CSS styles, logos, navigation, and so on – and files that include content that is prone to change. Then you can code as needed. Remember that it’s perfectly easy to write particular page elements such as headers and footers, as well as larger files (like CSS stylesheets) that aren’t time-sensitive, and simply enabling caching for them will improve site speed.
4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network can be defined as a collection of servers situated all over the globe. They are tasked with distributing the delivery load to the server closest to the user’s location, resulting in faster local user experiences. A CDN is a non-negotiable component for platform performance as more e-commerce businesses go worldwide.
Your website files will be copied and stored on these servers after you use a CDN. When consumers from different continents (or even countries) visit your online store, all data is loaded from the server that is closest to them, allowing the website to load significantly faster.
A CDN is an excellent choice for high-traffic e-commerce sites. High-density PoPs allow them to offer more static and event-driven information from the cache. As a result, your Cache Hit Efficiency improves up to 90%-98% which enables a greater better experience for your users. It also enhances search engine rankings as a result of performance metrics tuning. A CDN connection makes long-term website maintenance easier and aims to improve overall website speed.
5. Try Lazy Loading
If a website takes a few seconds to load, you can improve the user experience by speeding up the top of the page. Lazy loading is a method that works well for sites that have a lot of content below the fold. The API is being adopted by 17% of websites which is a substantial number considering it was launched in 2019. Thanks to lazy loading, it will load the images inside the display first, then all of the other pictures later.
The user will not have to wait long to access the website, and the photographs will load as soon as they are available. This will significantly reduce the time it takes for articles with a large number of photos to load. It’s simple to set up this plugin. Plugins such as Lazy load, BJ Lazy load, WP Rocket, and others are available.
6. Develop AMPs and PWAs
WIth 52% of internet traffic stemming from smartphones, it is important to optimize your e-commerce stores for those devices. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Progressive Web Apps (PWA) have made it easier to increase the site speed on mobile devices.
A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a web app that can be accessed using a mobile browser. They mimic many of the features of apps, such as access via an icon on the mobile home screen, better engagement (as high as 400%), and push notifications, but without requiring users to install anything on their phones.
All of these underrated tricks are guaranteed to arm you with the most effective ways to enhance your website’s speed. You should try to incorporate these elements into your e-commerce website to turn traffic into revenue, minimize the churn rate and simply delight your customers with an exceptional user experience.
The opinions expressed here by Guest Contributors are their own, not those of Rise Marketing.