Keeping an eye on the future and day-to-day pressures sometimes make entrepreneurs overlook basic housekeeping issues that keep businesses from running smoothly and giving customers the best experience possible.
The most basic of those issues is the performance of your website. If your store is running into technical issues that make shopping and ordering even just a little bit harder for customers, it’s time to set aside time to clean house.
No one looks forward to doing chores, but rest assured, there are some simple tasks that aren’t hard to check off the list. If you’re willing to do a quick review, here’s my best advice on how to tweak your Shopify store and see significant improvements.
1. Run a website speed check on your website.
If there’s one thing that will probably turn customers away from your shop, it’s the loading speed of your site.
As this article outlines with a few eye-opening data points, it’s estimated that 40% of customers click away from pages that take more than three seconds to load. Yes, loading time has a huge impact on the bottom line. Kissmetrics has calculated that an e-commerce site making $100,000 per day can lose $2.5 million a year for a 1-second page delay.
There are several online sites that can check the speed of your site for you and pinpoint what is causing delays. Experts I’ve consulted about this topic say that it’s more important to look at the suggestions for places to clean up your website than to get hung up on a specific number or grade. Once you see the list, you can decide to go for the quick wins (simple, inexpensive) and then tackle the rest as you can.
Here are three commonly-used sites that can check your loading speed:
PageSpeed Insights comes from Google Developers
WebPagetest is also supported by Google and is under ongoing development on GitHub
GTmetrix also offers analysis and a full report with the option of ongoing support
2. Check the sizes of your product images.
Large images are often a major culprit in slow loading times, so start your website cleanup here.
You can resize large images to make them easier to load, or you can compress them, which removes a lot of an image’s metadata that’s invisibly stored with the image. Details like GPS coordinates and the date and time when the photo was taken are all embedded in the image, but aren’t necessary for product photos.
Compression can also remove some of the finer image detail without compromising image quality if you’re using the picture online. Occasionally, compression makes an image unusable, but most of the time, it’s just fine.
How much does image compression matter? Typically, files sizes are reduced by 5%, but I have seen results of up to 60%. Even if your images’ average size drops by 5-10%, that has a huge impact if your site has 10,000 items and each product has 3-5 images.
Shopify recommends image sizes below 70kb along with several different programs that can reduce image size. Some programs even compress a whole folder worth of photos at once, which is what I use myself.
Sometimes extraneous code is left over from previous A/B testing on your side or different services you may have signed up for over the years. Even if you don’t stopped using the functionality months or years ago, your customers are still having to download and run significant file sizes (10Kb – 200Kb), even if the script isn’t running. And as we mentioned earlier, if pages load slowly, you’re losing customers.
4. Review your theme
Some themes don’t work as smoothly anymore, especially on mobile, so if your theme hasn’t changed for a couple of years, it’s probably time to take advantage of the features that newer themes have to offer. Sometimes the theme you’re using will have released minor updates to correct any problems, which means you won’t need a complete site redesign.
5. Check your speed again and compare.
After you’ve made some adjustments, run another test to see what kind of gains your site has made.
By looking at your loading speed each time you make improvements, you’ll be able to see which changes made the most impact. You can either prioritize checkups for those issues on a regular basis, or in the case of photos, load only compressed images onto your site in the first place.
Taking care of these details probably isn’t the boldest action item for your business this month, but once that’s out of the way, you and your customers will enjoy the advantages of a fast loading speed.
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