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Optimizing Your eCommerce Website

eCommerce optimizationIn 2018, there is no excuse for a slow eCommerce store. Shoppers don’t have the patience to wait while pages load or slow search and checkout features struggle to react to input. Performance optimization involves taking a close look at your eCommerce store and how it works, figuring out why it’s slow, and making the necessary changes.

At a high level, performance optimization can be divided into two broad categories: client-side or front-end optimization that deals with loading and executing code and other assets in the browser, and server-side or backend optimization, which focuses on improving the speed at which web pages are generated and sent to the browser.

Choose The Right Hosting Provider

The right hosting provider is vital to low-latency eCommerce performance. If an eCommerce store runs on a slow or unoptimized server, it will never be fast, no matter how hard you work to optimize it. If the store’s server doesn’t have the resources it needs to cope with the traffic it receives, it will perform poorly under load.

The solution is to migrate to a hosting plan with more resources or to a hosting provider capable of offering the performance eCommerce shoppers expect.

Understand The Problem

eCommerce stores are complex and there are many opportunities for optimization, but retailers need to know what’s going wrong before they can fix it. Data allows you to identify the real cause of the problem, rather than wasting time on theoretical performance optimizations.

We recommend using a combination of Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom Tools to gather actionable performance metrics.

Client-Side Optimization

Client-side or front-end optimization focuses on improving the performance of a store’s pages in the browser. There are two basic approaches: reducing the size and number of the assets that have to be loaded, and reducing the size and complexity of JavaScript code.

The tools we suggested above provide a good starting point for optimization, but here are three optimizations that are almost certain to make pages load faster:

Reduce HTTP requests: Although HTTP/2 makes this step less important, if your server or your shoppers’ browsers don’t support HTTP/2, reducing HTTP requests can make a significant difference to front-end performance. The easiest way to reduce the number of requests is to concatenate JavaScript and CSS files.

Optimize images: Images are an important part of any eCommerce product page, but they’re also often the largest. Use tools like ImageOptim or a web service like to remove extraneous metadata and reduce the size of images without reducing their quality.

Remove unnecessary JavaScript: JavaScript is an essential part of the modern web, but you can have too much of a good thing. Do you really need all that tracking, social sharing, and UI code?

Server-Side Optimization

The best server-side optimization is to choose a web hosting provider that does most of the work for you, providing powerful servers, an optimized software stack, and a low-latency network.

A good web hosting provider will also help you out with a couple of other optimizations that can significantly improve load-times and reduce latency: a content distribution network and server-side caching.

A content distribution network (CDN) distributes an eCommerce store’s static assets — JavaScript and CSS files, images, pre-rendered HTML — to servers located around the world. When shoppers requests those assets, they are delivered from the closest CDN servers, which reduces latency and the load on the main server.

Caching stores the output of requests so that they don’t have to be generated by code that accesses the database every time a browser requests the same information. eCommerce is a dynamic process, and caching works well with data that changes infrequently, but it can nevertheless significantly boost the perceived performance of an eCommerce store.

Caching solutions are available for WooCommerce and Magento, both as plugins or extensions, and as external caching applications like Varnish and Memcached.

A slow eCommerce store hurts sales and revenue, so it’s worth investing the time to reduce latencies and build a fast and fluid shopping experience.Slow eCommerce stores lose out on sales and revenue — we look at the how and the why of eCommerce optimization

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