Three ways to speed up your ecommerce website

Everyone knows how important Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Christmas shopping period are to businesses, both online and offline. To help ecommerce webmasters make the most of this season, we’ve partnered with experts in the web industry and will be sharing informative and inspiring content over the next couple of weeks.

To kick things off, let’s talk about one factor often overlooked in preparation for the high-traffic shopping season: your website’s speed. 

Your site’s performance and load time play a big role in the experience your customers have on your site. Website visitors can end up spending quite a bit of time on your site, browsing, comparing options, and checking out. Every extra second it takes to load images and complete actions on your site causes friction and can prevent customers from completing their order. 

Luckily, there are several quick and easy customizations you can implement to improve your website. Read on to see three ways we recommend for any website owner looking to increase their site’s performance and their sales this season. 

Enable caching

Caching is a great technology that saves the outcome of different operations your site has to perform in order to produce your final content. It then serves this ready “product” for the next visitor of your site even faster. With a good caching solution enabled and functioning, your site will be as fast as a static page. Each time you make a change to your page, it will load dynamically the first time after the modification. Then, the cache will be refreshed and the new cached version will load. 

For an ecommerce store built with WooCommerce and WordPress, object caching is a great way to save resources since online shops use a site’s database even more often than normal sites. By caching content like product pages, your visitors can browse items quickly and seamlessly. All the content they view before they add items to the cart, log in, or check out can use object caching with Memcached to reduce the demands on the database. 

When using full-page caching for a store built with WordPress, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t cache those dynamic parts of your site that allow visitors to make unique actions. For example, you can’t cache a cart page or a checkout page, since shoppers use and update those pages frequently and input sensitive information during a session on your site. If you cache this content, you may show the previous customer’s personal data to someone else and expose it. Cart, Order, Profile, and other user and order-related page, should be left out of the cache.

Caching with SiteGround

At SiteGround the easiest way to cache your site is through the SiteGround Optimizer plugin. This directly saves the cached content on the server’s RAM and significantly improves site performance since your content won’t be dynamically loaded every time. If you’re hosted with SiteGround, you can use the caching settings in the SG Optimizer to connect our caching server to your WooCommerce store. You also don’t have to worry about caching or excluding the right pages, the SG Optimizer automatically chooses the right caching settings for optimal WooCommerce performance. 

Furthermore, using a caching service like this will increase the amount of traffic you can handle on your hosting account, which makes a big difference during a busy shopping season.

Optimize your images

Images help make your site beautiful and are a key selling point for online retail. They can also be one of the top reasons your site is slow.  

If your website is built with WordPress, the easiest place to start is to use a plugin to optimize images already on your site. A plugin can reduce the size of your images without damaging their quality and removing all the unnecessary data that your camera saves when you take a photograph (e.g. GPS location of the photo, make and model of the camera used) adds to the overall performance of your site. 

Moving forward, be sure to upload images that aren’t bigger than they need to be. If you want to display an image 300x300 pixels, don’t upload a 1024x1024 pixels image and then set it to be shown smaller with HTML or CSS. Resize it before uploading it to your website. 

The way your website theme and design handle images can also impact your site’s performance. While sliders and carousels are attractive, they usually use a lot of JavaScript to operate. Replacing a slider featuring multiple images with one static image can considerably cut down on load time and will be more mobile-friendly at the same time. 

Using the SG Optimizer for images

If you’re a SiteGround customer, you can easily and safely optimize your images using our SG Optimizer plugin. Keep in mind that optimizing an image-heavy site can take a lot of time and hosting resources. But it’s worth it. 

Then, you can use the lazy-load settings to choose delay loading images for each visitor until they scroll to where that image is. This allows your site to load faster as soon someone lands one of your pages, since it doesn’t have to wait for all the images on the page to load to start displaying content.

Optimize your front-end code

WordPress themes use CSS and JavaScript to render beautiful and functional pages. On top of that, WooCommerce adds even more CSS and JavaScript to support functionalities like the AJAX Cart, order updates, and more. That’s why we recommend having a mechanism that combines, minifies, and reorders the loading sequence of your CSS and JS files. 

Minification and combination are two techniques with one purpose: to reduce the size and number of JavaScript and CSS files that your site loads. Minification strips all unnecessary symbols by removing precious bites from being loaded every time you request a URL. Combination on the other hand, combines multiple JavaScript and CSS files into one. This reduces the number of requests your site makes. 

How to minimize code with SiteGround 

If you’re hosted on SiteGround, the SG Optimizer plugin will handle JavaScript and CSS script optimizations. Using it can significantly optimize the performance of your website, especially if you have a theme with more features, images, and animations.

Speeding up your ecommerce site will create a better browsing and purchasing experience for your customers. As the Christmas shopping season kicks off, it’s important to be aware of the small changes you can make to your site that will yield big results. 

Eager for more tips on optimizing your ecommerce performance? Stay tuned for more posts just like this one featuring industry experts and some of our technical partners. Learn how to improve your website design, conversions, online marketing, and more.  

Black Friday Promo!

Marketing Balladeer

As SiteGround's Montreal-based content creator, I spend my days thinking up brand messaging, crafting killer copy, and convincing my colleagues to visit Canada. I'm obsessed with English puns, French expressions, and packing the perfect carry-on.

4 Comments

  1. Reply November 2, 2019 / 04:20 Roddy BlümSiteGround Team

    Thank You Andrea, this was exactly what I needed to do
    And it worked very well !

  2. Reply November 11, 2019 / 08:48 BrianSiteGround Team

    Thank you... Great Advice.

    Do you have any suggestions for optimizing the "First Byte Time" portion of the speed tests?

    • Reply November 12, 2019 / 01:28 Hristo PandjarovSiteGround Team

      Use the latest available PHP version and always our Dynamic Caching!

  3. Reply November 12, 2019 / 07:32 Steven ChayerSiteGround Team

    Andrea, I appreciate the direct-to-the-point format or writing style and that you didn't use fluff-filling-content that so many bloggers use to 'fill' a page to please the Google Gods.

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