When setting up a website on a hosted platform like Shopify, you may think that you don’t have control over how quickly or slowly your website loads for shoppers. However, even though you don’t have access to the source code of your Shopify site, there are plenty of things that you do have at least some control over, including your theme and apps. Given that loading speeds affect conversion rates of traffic into sales, as well as search engine rankings, and even Google AdWords quality scores, your loading speeds can have a big impact on your bottom line. That’s why we’ve put together a cheat-sheet for you that highlights of some of the most common causes of Shopify loading speed lag:
Banners, photos, and other graphics are often not compressed as well as they should be. The larger the file size of your images, the longer it will take web browsers to receive them, just like it takes longer to download a large video or file from the internet. Luckily, there are free compression tools, like Optimizilla, that make compressing your JPEG and PNG files a breeze.
When you’re actively running a lot of software applications on your PC, it will start to slow down. The same basic principle applies to Shopify Apps. For instance, apps can require time to communicate with Shopify’s API, or can be reliant on communicating with other servers that aren’t as speedy. With apps, less is more, and we recommend testing your loading speed with or without an app to determine if it’s a weak link in your loading speed. In researching your apps, you may even find that you have installed apps that you’re no longer using – in essence, dead weight.
Your theme files are one of the areas of your site wherein you have the most control. While it’s important to start with a fast and mobile-responsive theme, you can also optimize scripts and style-sheets. While file sizes are important, so are the number of elements that need to be accessed to load your website. For instance, if you can combine and minify CSS, it can have a positive impact on your loading speed.
If you’re running analytics and digital marketing campaigns, you may find yourself using multiple tags for tracking traffic and conversions. Consider using a system like Google Tag Manager, which allows you to achieve your end goals with potentially much less code and fewer elements that will impact the speed of your site.
If a web browser is trying to load elements of your site that it can’t reach or that are redirecting, it will take longer for the browser to finish loading the page. This is a bit like having leaky pipes. You may not be aware that there are issues with your coding, or there may not have been originally, but it may be worth using some tools to review the various elements that your site is calling upon to load, as well as your code in general.
While piecemeal testing can be a great help in some cases, a more comprehensive Conversion Rate Optimization campaign will make the most sense. Tools like WebPageTest.org, Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, and Monitis all provide data on what’s slowing down your website. Additionally, by connecting with systems like Google Analytics, Google, Bing, and Yandex Webmaster Tools, you can get some other great information about your loading speed and issues that may be impacting how visitors load or interact with your site. You can also use tools like The W3C Markup Validation and Link Checker to test for coding errors.
Remember: a fast loading speed helps your bottom line. According to a recent study by DoubleClick, a Google company, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. Loading speeds also impact search engine rankings, Google AdWords quality scores, and other important factors for your conversion rates and overall success. If you’re looking for a team that can help by auditing your loading speeds and providing more thorough optimization, look for Shopify experts, such as Rand Marketing, that offer such services. This will allow you to focus on what you do best while utilizing the expertise of a firm that’s helped optimize many sites just like yours.
Robert Rand, CTO, RandMarketing
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