As you probably already know, the speed and performance of your online store can make or break your success. However, slow loading times as well as subpar Google Lighthouse and Core Web Vitals scores are a common occurrence. So what actually causes speed and performance issues for most ecommerce websites? In this article, we will explore some common errors in ecommerce website performance, the impact of these errors, and subsequently discuss effective solutions for them.
- Unoptimized Image Files
- Bloated Code
- Excessive Redirects
- Excessive HTTP Requests
- Render-Blocking Resources
- Poor Server Performance
- Inadequate Caching
- Monitoring and Detecting Ecommerce Performance Issues with Valido
- Final Takeaways
Unoptimized Image Files
Unoptimized image files are one of the most common culprits behind slow website performance. Large, uncompressed images can significantly slow down your site, especially on mobile devices. Valido Web Score is integrated with Google PageSpeed Insights, which allows you to easily generate a comprehensive report highlighting images on your page that aren’t appropriately sized. This report displays the current size of each image and the potential savings in kibibytes (KiB) by resizing them, giving you valuable insights into data savings and page load time improvements.
So what can you do to optimize your images and improve your website’s performance?
- Compress your images: Before uploading images to your website, consider compressing them using tools like Squoosh and TinyPNG. These tools reduce image file sizes while maintaining visual quality, ensuring faster loading times.
- Choose the right image format: Select the appropriate image format (JPEG, PNG, GIF, or WebP) for each image on your website. For example, PNGs are generally better for graphics with fewer than 16 colors while JPEGs are generally better for photographs.
- Utilize the “srcset” attribute: Implement the srcset attribute in your HTML to serve different image sizes based on the user’s device. This responsive design approach ensures that users receive images optimized for their screen, reducing unnecessary data transfer.
- Lazy-Loading vs Pre-Loading Images: Pre-loading and lazy loading are two techniques used to optimize image loading on a website, and their usage depends on what purpose of the images. While Pre-loading is ideal for ensuring above-the-fold images such as featured or homepage banners are fully loaded and cached before displaying to users, lazy loading is more suitable for long-scrolling pages or image-heavy content, such as product images as you scroll down product listing pages. Lazy loading delays the loading of offscreen images until they’re about to come into view, optimizing overall website performance.
There are a few ways to fix this issue:
- Explore plugins or extensions on your ecommerce platform for minification. For example, WordPress users have several options such as Hummingbird for easy optimization.
By implementing the solutions and techniques mentioned above, you can significantly enhance your website’s performance, reduce data consumption, and provide a faster and more enjoyable user experience.
Redirects can be beneficial when needed, but excessive redirects can disrupt the user experience and harm page speed. They often occur during a website rebranding, migration, or platform changes. Redirects should be used sparingly and only when necessary.
Some websites develop issues with multiple consecutive redirects, creating redirect chains. In these cases, there are one or multiple pages between the original URL and the final URL, leading to slower load times and lower PageSpeed Insights scores. In this case, the solution is simple: redirect straight from the original URL to the newest URL.
One of the best practices to manage redirects efficiently is to implement SEO-friendly 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirection from one URL to another, used to maintain search engine rankings and user access when a webpage’s URL changes.
Excessive HTTP Requests
Every element on your webpage, from images to stylesheets and scripts, requires an HTTP request. This can result in an overwhelming number of HTTP requests when someone visits your website, significantly slowing down your website’s loading times.
What’s the solution for this?
The solution is simple – review and remove unnecessary elements, features, and extensions/plugins that you may have previously implemented or installed. Minifying your JS and CSS files can further reduce the number of files users need to download when loading a web page, contributing to a speedier and smoother user experience.
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How can I address this issue?
- Consider removing or delaying render-blocking resources until the browser needs to process them.
- Lazy loading is an effective technique for improving performance by reducing the impact of image resources that are render-blocking.
- Taking steps to optimize the Interaction to Next Paint metric will also help to make your page easier to render.
Poor Server Performance
One often underestimated but critical factor affecting your website’s performance is server performance. Your web server is like the engine of a car. No matter how sleek the design or powerful the features, if the engine isn’t up to par, the vehicle won’t run smoothly.
When a user clicks a link to visit your site, their browser sends a request to this server, which then sends back the webpage data for display. So, the efficiency of this process largely depends on the server’s capabilities.
What causes poor server performance?
- Slow response times: This can occur due to various reasons, including server overload, insufficient resources, or poor configurations.
- Server Location: The geographical location of your server can significantly impact page load speed. Ideally, your server should be physically close to your target audience. For instance, if your primary customers are in the United States, hosting your site on a USA-based server is generally a good idea as it reduces the distance the data must travel.
How can I improve server performance?
- Choose a reliable web host: Opting for a reputable web hosting provider is crucial. A reliable host ensures your website’s files are stored on high-performing servers, reducing downtime and improving overall speed.
- Set up your website with local servers: Where possible, consider hosting your website on servers located in the same region as your target audience. This can dramatically reduce latency and improve loading times.
- Implement a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN is a network of servers distributed across different geographic locations. It stores copies of your website’s static assets (like images and stylesheets) on multiple servers worldwide. When a user accesses your site, the CDN delivers these assets from the server closest to them, enhancing loading speed.
- Server optimization: Regularly monitor your server’s performance and optimize its configurations. This may involve adjusting settings, upgrading hardware, or fine-tuning software.
Caching is a method that reduces loading times by storing frequently used data in the browser’s memory. When a user revisits a particular site, the browser can retrieve data faster, significantly improving loading times. Without caching, the website must reload all files with each visit. This is unnecessary and negatively impacts the user experience.
Common Caching solutions:
Browser/HTTP caching: Implement caching at the browser level. This allows the browser to store and retrieve data without repeated server requests.
Server-side caching: Utilize server-side caching to store pre-generated web page content. This reduces the load on your server and speeds up response times.
Browser and server-side caching are proven methods, and implementing both will significantly enhance your website’s performance and deliver a smoother user experience.
Monitoring and Detecting Ecommerce Performance Issues with Valido
While we’ve discussed several common errors that can affect your ecommerce website’s performance, it’s essential to have the right tools in place to monitor and detect these issues effectively. Valido Web Score is an intelligent test and monitoring automation solution that help ecommerce businesses address page speed and performance concerns.
Valido Web Score offers insights into ecommerce website performance across desktop, mobile and tablet devices, allowing you to identify browser, location, or device-specific speed bottlenecks. With this tool, you can easily track and monitor the most critical performance metrics, such as Google Lighthouse and Core Web Vitals scores.
In addition, Valido Web Score provides AI-powered suggestions to enhance your ecommerce site’s speed and usability. After making improvements, you can use Valido Web Score to verify that your changes and optimization efforts have had the desired impact.
Ecommerce website performance is a critical factor in attracting and retaining online customers. Common performance errors like unoptimized image files, bloated code, and poor server performance can have a devastating impact on conversions and brand loyalty. Nevertheless, these concerns can be alleviated by implementing the solutions discussed in this article.
However, optimization is not just a one-time effort. How can you ensure that your ecommerce is performing at a high level at all times? Utilizing an automated solution like Valido Web Score can effectively test and monitor your ecommerce store in real-time, across different devices, browsers and locations. Don’t let poor performance hold your ecommerce business back —take action today to boost your website’s speed and success.
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Digital UX, writing about the latest ecommerce trends.