Three Tips For Better Online Store Load Times

Written by neatly.io on 6th September 2019

Speed matters, and over the years, it becomes more and more apparent how much this is so.

Recently, Google found that 53% of mobile site visits bounced due to the page taking longer than three seconds to load. If you are selling online, you can consider each bounce to be a 100% failure to convert a lead.

By speeding up the page loads of your online store, you will minimize your cart abandonment rate from the get-go. Improving your website load times will allow you to present your content and potentially catch a buyer’s eye. And you won’t be starting with a funnel that has already shrunk significantly.

There are a lot of things you can do to speed up your site. The simplest is just to get a fast web host. But even after this, there are straightforward changes you can make that will yield big wins. In this article, we will cover three tips for decreasing the amount of time it takes for your website to load, resulting in reduced bounce rates and increased conversion rates.

If you haven’t already, we recommend using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to test your website. It will give you a baseline for how your website is performing. As you make changes to your website, you can retest your page to see its impact.

1. Minimize the Number of HTTP Requests Your Website Makes

According to the Yahoo! Developer Network, 80% of the response time is spent downloading front-end assets: images, Cascading Style Sheets, JavaScript files, and so on. Each HTTP call adds to the time needed for the page to load. Furthermore, more and more visitors are relying on mobile devices running on weaker mobile networks — slowing page load speeds for this important market.

One way to minimize the number of HTTP requests is to reduce dependency on so many files. If you use a variety of assets, consider combining similar ones. For example, you may consolidate your style sheets so that you do not need to load multiple pages.

For online stores, the visual media that customers demand can be a challenge. But, things like CSS sprites and image maps are methods you can use to retrieve images once for multiple uses.

Caching is also a way for your website to store static assets (eg, product pictures that do not change often) for quick retrieval on demand.

2. Minify Your Website Files

Smaller files take less time to get from your server to your visitor’s browser.

Your developers should strive to write the cleanest code possible, balancing the competing demands of lean code with readability. However, there is something even simpler you can do to reduce the size of your website’s files (especially if you are creating them with a website building tool or similar): minifying them.

Minification is the process of removing everything that isn’t necessary from the file without changing the functionality of the code. For example, JavaScript doesn’t care about whitespace and new line characters, so removing these would shrink the file without changing its behavior. Comments are also a good candidate for removal.

Because minified files are difficult for humans to read, many developers keep two sets of files: they work in one set (that contain whitespaces, comments, etc), and when done, they auto-generate the minified files. This process allows developers to prevent the two versions from getting out of sync feature-wise.

3. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Earlier, we mentioned that decreasing the number of front-end assets can improve your page load speeds significantly. However, this isn’t always practical, and that’s where content delivery networks (CDNs) come in.

How far (or how close) your user is to your web server impacts how quickly pages can get to them. While you can’t change the location of either, you can use a CDN to minimize the distance files have to travel before they’re received by the visitor’s web browser.

CDNs work by caching some of your website’s resources among its network of proxy servers. Whenever someone requests your site, the server closest to the visitor (either in terms of quickest response time or network proximity) is the one that handles the requests. Good candidates for caching are static assets: your business’ logo, company information pages, and so on.

Many web hosts include a CDN service (and built-in support for it) with their hosting packages. If not, there are cost-effective (and sometimes free) options readily available.

Summary

If people can’t get to your store, they can’t purchase from you. Online, that means you need to have a fast and responsive website. Anything else will cost you significant amounts of money.

Fortunately, speeding up your website doesn’t need to be complicated. You can greatly improve your page load speeds in three easy ways: limiting your HTTP requests, minifying your code, and setting up a CDN. And all these can be done almost immediately.

 

Authors Bio

Toni Allen is the general manager and editor of Quality Nonsense. She has over two decades of experience in web development and online marketing.