4 Tips from a Shopify Web Developer to Build a Faster Website

Why is a Shopify Web Developer Worried About Website Speed?

An experienced Shopify web developer knows that your eCommerce website should load in a mere three seconds to capture the most customers. For every second longer, an online retailer runs the risk of losing business to impatience and short attention spans. Yet, a recent study that looked at nearly one hundred online stores found the average speed of Shopify stores was over nine seconds.

A website loading in nine seconds is losing a lot of business. The recommended speed for all websites is seven seconds, and eCommerce companies need to be faster than that to stay ahead of competition. In short, your slow website could be killing your company, costing you thousands in revenue, and driving away customers that otherwise love your product. Not only is this business you can’t afford to lose, but losing customers to website performance is entirely unnecessary.

Delete Any Unnecessary Plugins

Plugins are meant to help your website run better, right?

As it turns out, many plugins are great at handling one problem, but do not optimize your Shopify store for speed. Plugins are designed to improve different aspects of functionality. A smart eCommerce company is using plugins throughout a Shopify store to improve the user experience and make an online store easier to manage. However, a Shopify web developer will tell you that every plugin is slowing down your website, some more than others.

Begin by reviewing all the plugins running on your website and removing those that are redundant. As well, if a plugin is not adding value to the functionality of your website, delete it. This first pass at plugins should be a purge of every unnecessary plugin. After this in-depth removal of certain plugins, improving your speed is all about maintenance. All plugins need to be updated on a regular basis. The longer a plugin is outdated, the more likely it is to cause problems with the performance of your website.

While you are going through the process of removing or updating plugins, take a look at the widgets on your website. Sometimes, the additional elements on your landing page, product page, or even contact web page can slow down loading your main content. If there is an opportunity to eliminate extra widgets or reduce your landing page to a single column, Shopify web developers highly recommend it.

Replace or Take Down Oversized Images

Many Shopify stores run into a problem with images. If you search through discussion forums on “slow Shopify sites,” a vast majority of the advice is about reducing the size and placement of images. Yet, this is tough advice for an eCommerce company to  swallow.

Online merchants want to showcase their products by including beautiful pictures. This means Shopify stores already have more opportunities for placing images and other media than other websites. Additionally, there is a huge incentive to utilize full resolution images. These pictures help a potential customer connect with a product, and better pictures build credibility.  Lastly, if the images on your Shopify store don’t stand out or grab a viewer’s attention, you are less likely to make a sale.

With all of these competing incentives in mind, it can feel like the recommendation to take down images or replace oversized files compromises other qualities of your Shopify site. This is not the case.

A Shopify web developer is constantly cognizant that full resolution, high-quality images look great, but load very slowly. To address this issue, a developer will use online tools to reduce the file size of an image, without compromising quality. When you compress and optimize your images, you may not have to remove any media from your Shopify store. But there is still reason to consider cutting back on the number of images on your landing page, as minimal designs continue to be popular with online shoppers.

Time to Change Your Theme

Themes are another area where all things are not created equal. Before a Shopify web developer even adds plugins, uploads images, or customizes the design, some themes are built for better performance. If you haven’t decided on a Shopify theme, then one of the easiest ways to build a speedy website is selecting an optimized theme.

If you are building your own Shopify site, selecting the right theme will require some research. Start by finding a few themes you prefer. Then, use Pagespeed Insight from Google, or another performance tool, to gauge the performance metrics of the theme. Often, you can simply compare the preview pages of each theme to determine those that run faster.

While your comparison will become an overall score from Pagespeed Insight, what you will find is the speed performance of a Shopify theme is closely tied to the theme’s code. Slower themes will require multiple JavaScript files and multiple CSS files to run. Each of these files must be loaded through render-blocking, which slows down performance. Instead, look for an optimized theme that has a single JavaScript file and a single CSS file.

There are quite a few options in the Shopify library that offer these features. Therefore, do not worry that looking for an optimized theme will limit the design, look, or feel of your online store.

Don’t Sell Out to Third-Party Advertisers

It takes a lot of time and effort to create a Shopify store that represents your brand and runs smoothly. Often, getting all of your content, media, and widgets onto a page, without slowing down speed, is an undertaking. However, eCommerce companies must also consider how third-party content affects their site.

For the most part, third-party scripts can run smoothly on your Shopify store. For example, Amazon, Facebook, and PayPal developed APIs and third-party scripts that load quickly on your website. In fact, these scripts could be probably faster than the rest of your Shopify theme. But eCommerce companies want to add other third-party content. Whether it is a social media connection or third-party advertisement, these scripts can be beneficial. However, some third-party scripts are a detriment website optimization.

The more third-party scripts you have, the greater chance something will slow your Shopify store. These scripts can even bring your store to a grinding halt. Shopify web developers can recognize which third-party content could be slowing your site, and help optimize the third-party scripts you actually need.

1Digital Agency is a Shopify Plus Partner and skilled Shopify web developer. Our team works closely with Shopify to customize clients’ online stores. Visit our website to learn more about our close partnership with Shopify and how our team solves Shopify problems, such as slowly loading web pages.