To put it simply, if your website is slow, you’re losing sales! The more competitive the space, the more revenue you are giving away to the competition.
When it comes to online shopping, customers on average, will only spend around a total of 6 minutes on your site.
What you don’t want to happen
During that 6 minute window of opportunity, they spend their time becoming frustrated and annoyed with your website trying to find what they need, till they reach the point where they abandon the site and search for a faster and better shopping experience with one of your competitors, never to return again.
What you do want to happen
Your website loads fast, and that fast page load speed continues throughout your customers shopping spree as they navigate through your website right through to purchase.
Important Point – A fast website not only contributes to a much higher conversion rate on the customer’s first visit, but is also a massive contributing factor to your customers returning within the next 3-6 months to purchase again.
Scoring a Positive Review
When it comes to eCommerce, everything you do should contribute to creating a raving fan and securing a positive review for your store or product. It’s a fact that people are much more likely to leave a bad review when something goes wrong than they are when something goes right. Everybody hates a slow website, so if you want to increase the chances of scoring a great customer review, you better make sure your website is fast.
So, how do you speed up your website?
Now there are plenty of posts across the internet on the topic of Website Speed Optimisation, so our aim in this resource is to highlight and prioritise the easiest things that you can do, with a focus on websites built using WordPress and WooCommerce.
1. Your product images are too big.
Oversized images are the most common cause of slow loading websites, so sign up for an image optimisation service like Shortpixel. Install their plugin, configure and start optimising the images in your media gallery. But, don’t become too obsessed with image optimisation; you want to find the happy balance between an image that still looks nice and sharp but has a compact file size for faster delivery. Great looking images contribute to a higher conversion rate; blurry, pixilated images do not.
Important Tip – I would suggest generating WEP and AVI versions of your images, which Shortpixil facilitates. WEP and AVI are new types of image formats that will allow you to reduce your image file size to be smaller than that of a JPEG or PNG while still maintaining the quality of the image. Both Chrome and Safari support these modern image formats, which are by far the most common browsers people are using.
2. You are on cheap hosting!
If you have an eCommerce website, you need quality website hosting. Unfortunately, most big-name hosting companies are more interested in squeezing as many websites as possible into a shared hosting environment to make as much money as possible. For eCommerce hosting, you should either be on a dedicated server if you have steady, predictable traffic. Or, if you need the flexibility of scaling up quickly to account for a sudden increase in traffic, Cloud hosting is the right choice for you.A sudden increase in traffic can be caused by one of your products going viral or during a peak buying season like Black Friday, Cyber Monday pre- Christmas etc. With cloud hosting, you can quickly allocate more server resources to handle the increased traffic via a quick phone call to your hosting company.
Important Tip – If you are an Australian based company and need a fast response from your hosting provider, I suggest speaking to the guys at Servers Australia. Their support team is Australian based; they offer 24/7 support and provide various Cloud and dedicated hosting solutions.
3. You’re using an Off the Shelf multiple purpose eCommerce Theme.
If your website was built by an agency that does not specialise in eCommerce, or you built it yourself. Most likely, the website has been built using a multi-purpose eCommerce theme that comes with all the bells and whistles. The problem with this type of theme is that it has been created to appeal to as wide an audience as possible to maximise sales. The result of this (from a coding perspective) is a bloated mess that is extremely hard to optimise and maintain long term; when it comes to performance – less is more. Think of your website as a high-performance race car, every gram of unnecessary weight has been stripped away, leaving just the lightweight parts that are engineered to work together to win the race.You may love the look and feel of your website, so the solution may be that you just need to reach out to an eCommerce Developer to strip down your website and rebuild it without all the extra unnecessary weight slowing it down.
4. Too Many Plugins Installed!
Now, let me firstly state, there is nothing wrong with installing wisely chosen, well-coded plugins to introduce the feature or functionality into your site needed to give it the edge over the competition. But, if you have gone ahead and installed a bunch of plugins, each coded by different developers, each doing a separate task, your website speed and reliability will suffer. If you are reading this resourceful information, you are most likely not a website developer and cannot possibly tell a quality plugin from a bad one. But what you can do is complete a simple plugin audit yourself. Login to the backend of your website, review all the plugins that have been installed and deactivate the ones that are not needed. Then check the site’s functionality is not affected and delete the deactivated plugins. By deleting the unnecessary plugins, 90% of the time, you will have contributed to speeding up your website.
Important Tip – If you find a lot of outdated plugins, either update them or remove them, as outdated plugins pose a significant security risk to your website, making your site more vulnerable to hackers.
5. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
By incorporating a CDN, you can significantly reduce your website load time, especially if it is image-heavy like an eCommerce website. In simple terms, the benefit of a CDN is that it will load your website content from the nearest data centre to your customer. So, for example, if you are an Australian based company selling in the USA and a customer from California is shopping on your website, you would want the website loading fast from the nearest data centre in the USA, not from Sydney, Australia.
Important Tip – Choose your CDN wisely, make sure it has data centres in the countries you are targeting and make sure it is a paid service. There are risks with using a free CDNs service, as some countries have internet providers that block free CDNs as it loses them revenue. The two largest Telecommunication companies in Australia are guilty of this, forcing websites to load from overseas data centres without you knowing. But if you are paying for the CDN service, that means the telcos are getting a payment passed on, and your website is much more likely to load from the location-specific data centres as expected.
The five points listed above are items you can largely do yourself. However, beyond this point, further optimisation becomes a highly technical and specialised skill, where you need an experienced developer with solid experience optimising websites, which is where we excel.
If you would like to discuss further how we can assist you in speeding up your website, please feel free to book in a call to discuss further.