Whether you know it or not, the speed of your Shopify site greatly impacts the number of purchases that shoppers will end up making. In simpler terms, the faster your site loads, the more likely you’ll be to convert users and drive sales.
And we’re not talking minutes or even seconds: fractions of seconds can make all the difference in determining whether a user will make a purchase. In fact, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load – meaning a few seconds of extra load time can add up to thousands of dollars of lost revenue. That’s why Google aims for a load time of half a second! The bottom line: optimized site speed is the key to Shopify’s success.
Optimizing Your Shopify Store for Speed
So how do you speed up your Shopify site to ensure that your bounce rate is low and conversions are high? Below are 7 ways to improve user experience by optimizing the speed of your Shopify store.
1. Manage image sizes
Images are crucial for Shopify stores since they show off your product to potential customers. However, bulky and oversized images can slow down site speed dramatically. Many images are uploaded to Shopify at sizes that are much larger than necessary and these images take up extra data- and therefore extra time – to load each time a user visits the page. If you learn how to optimize these images, you can cut seconds off of a page’s loading time.
Shopify recommends using 2048×2048 pixels for product photos. Shopify even has its own image resizer tool that you can use to ensure that your image is uploaded at optimal size. Large images can also be compressed, ensuring that they will have a smaller file size than the original. The optimal file size for most images is between 150-300 KB and 1MB max for backgrounds and other large images. Image compressor tools like Optimizilla and Tinypng.com are a great way to ensure that your images don’t weigh down your site speed.
Other image optimization tips include using jpg files for photos and png for logos and ensuring high-quality resolution for web images by clicking “save for web”.
2. Keep an eye on your GIF and video usage
As fun as they may be, it is best to avoid GIFs on your Shopify site. Since they are extremely large files, they add unnecessary page weight – along with high load times. We recommend replacing them with static images whenever possible for increased page speed.
Similarly, videos can slow page speed down immensely. Rather than uploading videos to your Shopify store, instead download them to external video hosting sites like YouTube or Vimeo. You can embed these videos on your Shopify store without having to host them – and suffer the page-loading consequences.
3. Try “Lazy Loading” your images
Another common image-related issue that adds extra load time to your site stems from all of a page’s images loading at once. Especially since Shopify sites have so many images on each page, it can take quite a while for them all to load at one time.
The solution? Lazy loading works by displaying low-quality images first before the high-quality image fully loads. This makes the page appear as if it is loading faster than it is – and therefore reduces the bounce rate.
4. Optimize images for SEO
It can be tempting to ignore the best practice of renaming an image that is called “IMG0028” or a long string of numbers. However, these image names do not provide any SEO value and it is unlikely that they will appear in an image search. Instead, include descriptive keywords in all image file names to tell Google valuable information about your product.
Similarly, you’ll want to include descriptive image alt tags complete with relevant keywords. The alt description should help search engines understand what you are showing them and provide accessibility to visually impaired shoppers. This small step may seem like a minor change, but it has huge SEO value!
5. Delete unnecessary apps/plugins from third parties
Apps are great, but too many apps and plugins can bog down site speed and decrease the performance of your Shopify site. We can certainly use essential apps, but it is important to be strategic and avoid an excess amount. While it is tempting to add dozens of apps that provide a visually pleasing shopping experience, they come at a cost.
Review each app in your Shopify store and ask yourself:
- Do I use this app often?
- Is the benefit that the app provides worth the decrease in performance?
- Is this feature actually used by our users?
If the answer to each question is no, you are better off disabling the app. Better yet, delete the app along with any unused code that could slow down the site.
6. Use pop-ups sparingly and strategically
Excessive pop-ups negatively impact performance and SEO as they add a lot of data and can be penalized in Google’s algorithm. Ask yourself whether your site’s pop-ups are being used by customers and if their benefits outweigh their hindrance to performance. For example, exit-intent pop-ups can be a strategic way to persuade shoppers to complete transactions – however, they need to be used intelligently. Too many pop-ups can interrupt and annoy customers, driving them away from your site.
Other pop-up best practices include implementing a countdown timer to increase shopper urgency, providing an incentive for user engagement (such as a discount code or a giveaway contest), and avoiding using modal pop-ups (the ones that show up right when you land on a page and force you to close them out before you can access the page’s content).
7. Ensure your site looks good on mobile
79% of smartphone users used their phones to make a purchase in the last six months. With so many customers shopping from their phones, it is essential that your Shopify store functions perfectly on mobile.
Check that all images load correctly and quickly, the navigation is clear and easy to use, all buttons are big enough, and all points of the customer journey are easy and logical. The number of shoppers shopping from their small screens is only going to increase in 2022 and you need to be ready!
These 7 tips are a great start to shaving seconds (and even minutes!) off of your Shopify site speed. Optimizing images, limiting pop-ups, and deleting unused apps are great ways to ensure your site loads faster. As we know, the faster the site, the more happy customers!
Interested in working with us? Schedule a consultation today to begin your journey toward promoting your company and generating more sales.