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How To Improve Your Ecommerce Website Performance in 2024

How To Improve Your Ecommerce Website Performance in 2024

Just as a long wait at a restaurant can ruin your dining experience, a slow-loading ecommerce store can drive potential customers away. Poor page speeds, unresponsive user interfaces (UI), and buggy user experience (UX) all lead to frustrated customers, abandoned shopping carts, and lost sales. So, what can you do to improve your ecommerce website performance?

In this comprehensive guide, we have compiled 10 proven strategies from web optimization experts on how to improve your ecommerce website performance. We will also explore the latest tips and recommendations based on recent trends in 2024. 

Contents:

  1. Understand initial page loading speed and Core Web Vitals
  2. Optimize content (images, video and other media)
  3. Selectively implement lazy loading vs preloading
  4. Utilize web performance audit and monitoring tools
  5. Implement caching and minification
  6. Optimize third-party scripts and plugins
  7. Use a CDN to improve server response time
  8. Reduce redirects and fix broken links
  9. Organize tracking with Google Tag Manager
  10. Use hero layouts instead of sliders

Boost your ecommerce website performance today

Understand initial page loading speed and Core Web Vitals

Attention span on an ecommerce site

If I don’t capture your attention in the next five seconds, you’re probably going to skip this paragraph. Humans today have extremely short attention spans, thanks to the nearly unlimited number of ways to get instant gratification. Because of that, ecommerce business owners need to be obsessed with initial page load performance. If your online store is slow, its sales will suffer because people won’t get their instant gratification (i.e. satisfy their urge to find something and purchase it) and abandon the site.

However, achieving optimal web performance is complex, especially with modern ecommerce sites and their many integrations. This is why Google and web optimization experts have consistently preached Core Web Vitals, which consists of Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Interaction to Next Paint (INP), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). It is critical to understand what these metrics are, its importance, and how to measure and optimize them for your ecommerce.

Optimize content (images, video and other media)

Images, videos, and other media assets play an important role in the visual appeal of your ecommerce website. However, they can also significantly impact loading times if not optimized correctly. By compressing images and minimizing JavaScript, HTML, and CSS code, you can significantly reduce page load times while maintaining your desired site aesthetics. 

The easy part of optimizing images is resizing them. There are plenty of free image compression tools out there you can use, such as TinyPNG and Compress Now. Most ecommerce platforms l even have their own in-built image compressors.

Tip: Once you’ve reduced the file size, make sure you’re using responsive design principles in order to optimize the user experience on smaller devices. 

Selectively implement lazy loading vs preloading

Preloading vs Lazy Loading

Preloading and lazy loading are two image loading techniques used to optimize website performance. Each technique has its own advantages and is suitable for different scenarios in an ecommerce website. Let’s break down each method:

Preloading

Preloading involves loading certain resources in advance, before they are actually needed. It ensures that critical elements required for rendering the page are available immediately when needed, reducing latency and improving perceived performance. It’s important to use preloading judiciously to avoid unnecessary overhead and ensure that only essential resources are preloaded to minimize impact on page load times.

Lazy Loading

Lazy loading, on the other hand, defers the loading of non-critical resources until they are needed, typically as the user scrolls down the page. With lazy loading, images and other elements are only loaded when they enter the viewport or come into the user’s immediate view, conserving bandwidth and reducing initial page load times.

Preloading vs Lazy Loading: Which to use in an ecommerce website and for which pages?

For an ecommerce website, a combination of preloading and lazy loading is often recommended to strike a balance between initial page load speed and overall performance.

Preloading is ideal for critical resources that are needed across multiple pages, such as the main stylesheet, fonts, logo images, or navigation elements. Another good use of preloading would be for the prioritization of above-the-fold content, for example the hero image on the homepage.

Lazy loading is particularly well-suited for content-rich pages, such as product listings or category pages on ecommerce websites. By lazy loading product images and less essential content that are not immediately visible, you can improve overall page load times especially for users on mobile devices with limited bandwidth.

Utilize web performance audit and monitoring tools

If you want to catch regressions (when a deployed change causes a negative impact on your website speed or UX), you should be actively performing regression testing on your ecommerce. Another preventive measure you should take is to set up page speed monitoring for your website. 

Setting up monitoring for your website will alert you whenever there’s a regression and then compare the data before and after to identify the cause of the slowdown. There are two types of monitoring when it comes to web performance:

Lab-based testing: Run page speed tests on a schedule in a controlled lab environment.

Real-user monitoring: See how your visitors experience your website.

Advanced web performance monitoring tools such as Valido Web Score can simplify monitoring efforts and provide actionable insights for faster optimization. The best tools allow users from all walks of life, whether a developer or digital marketer, to detect web performance issues and optimize effectively. Valido AI also has built-in Google PageSpeed and Lighthouse integrations, allowing you to perform a comprehensive audit of page load speed, mobile responsiveness, and server response time, from a single location.

Start monitoring your page speed for free.

Leverage our AI-powered features to analyze and track your ecommerce performance, just by entering the site URL below.

Implement caching and minification

Implementing browser caching and minifying HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files are effective strategies for reducing load times and improving website performance. By caching frequently accessed content and minimizing file sizes, you reduce the number of requests made to your server and database. 

Tip: Use caching to store frequently accessed content, such as customer information and product catalogs, to deliver faster load times for repeat visitors. 

Optimize third-party scripts and plugins

Plugins, add-ons, and extensions are a huge time-saver for most web developers. However, bloated plugin configurations and external scripts can drag your ecommerce website performance down. 

Therefore, the key to optimizing this area is to carefully review any third-party scripts or plugins you’re using, and consider alternatives that are more lightweight. One way to figure out the culprit is to do a test from a staging environment, disable all your plugins and test your website loading speed. Subsequently, enable each plugin one at a time to determine whether there is one (or several) plugins that are negatively impacting your performance metrics. 

Tip: When it comes to plugins, choose quality over quantity. Opt for simpler plugins with higher functionalities to avoid adding unnecessary complexity to your website, which can slow it down.

Use a CDN to improve server response time

Deploying a content delivery network (CDN) is another way to improve server response time and improve ecommerce website performance, particularly for global ecommerce stores. By distributing content across multiple servers located in different geographical regions, CDNs reduce latency and ensure a seamless user experience for customers worldwide.

Setting up a CDN can vary in difficulty depending on your technical expertise and the specific requirements of your ecommerce website. Nevertheless, there are CDN providers such as Cloudflare and Fastly which are easy to set up and use straight away.

Multiple redirects and broken links not only slow down your ecommerce website performance, it creates confusion for the user and damages the brand reputation of your online store.

While redirection methods like 301 and 302 redirects are faster than server-side redirects, it is still advisable to minimize the number of redirects on your website to prevent unnecessary delays in page loading.

For broken links, you can use Ahrefs Broken Link Checker or any similar tool to remove them.

Organize tracking with Google Tag Manager

While collecting customer analytics is crucial for your digital marketing strategy, it can slow down your ecommerce website performance. The most recommended solution for this is to consolidate all your tracking tags into a single JavaScript request, so that you can minimize overhead. This can be accomplished with a Tag Management System (TMS) like Google Tag Manager.

Use hero layouts instead of sliders

An example of a Hero layout in an ecommerce store

Switching from sliders to hero layouts in ecommerce pages can significantly optimize website performance. Hero layouts feature a single impactful visual element and reduces resource overhead compared to sliders with multiple images. This leads to faster initial page load, especially on slower connections. Hero layouts are also more responsive on mobile devices and promote better user engagement by presenting a cleaner design and clearer messaging. 

Carousels and sliders, on the other hand, are less efficient to load. In addition, they’re often not optimized for web-accessibility standards, or things like screen readers/zoom-in facilities. Removing them will be the best and easiest thing you can do for your ecommerce website performance.

Boost your ecommerce website performance today

By implementing the above ten strategies for optimizing ecommerce website performance, you can create a faster, more responsive, and user-friendly online shopping experience that drives sales and customer loyalty. By staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and leveraging advanced tools such as Valido AI, you can position your online business for success in 2024 and beyond.

Ready to take your ecommerce performance to the next level?

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