4 Tips from a Shopify Developer to Build a Faster Website

Topics: Shopify
By Gavin Write
Shopify eCommerce App On Phone Screen

In the last several years, Shopify transformed eCommerce. It bridged the gap of a non-technical business owner to the online business ecosystem. Many businesses expanded their brick-and-mortar stores to online, transforming the future of their company. Thanks to Shopify, millions of people have benefited from them as business owners, employees, and consumers.

While Shopify is a powerful platform for eCommerce, it doesn’t matter how good it is if your website loads slowly. When visitors go to an online store, they do it for convenience, speed, and access to products from wherever they are. When they see a slow website, you provide a big roadblock.

Slow websites lose sales. If a visitor spends a second more than usual on your site, you increase the chances that they’ll leave. It not only affects your sales but also your SEO, with slow speeds, making you less discoverable.

Fortunately, we can build a faster website. We researched Shopify developer recommendations and consolidated 4 tips that you can implement today for better results.

Analyze the Site

We love automation; the idea that you can set something up and it works for you without having to check on it. This has saved us a lot of time and money. But the problem with this culture of setting and letting things run on their own is that we often miss blind spots in our company.

Similarly, we see this with eCommerce sites. Someone sets up your site and you leave and forget it, letting it run on its own. After a while, it gets outdated from improving technologies or there is a small bug that affects the quality.

Now, you're climbing an uphill battle. A poor website experience affects your brand, reputation, and revenue. Your competitors now have a distinct advantage over you and you’re dealing with a bigger problem.

By auditing your website routinely, you can find those issues before they become critical. Check your image file sizes. Do they take a long time to load? They may need to compress into smaller files. Do you need a slider on your header if it is going to slow down your website? Consider the experience more than pictures.

Look at your code and make sure nothing is causing the site to slow down. You can contract professional developers to help you with this if you think it is a problem. Take advantage of caching and see if you can minimize the server response time with visitors. Eliminate website redirects, which can slow down a visit.

By consistently checking the health of your website, you can build a faster one for your Shopify store.

Check Desktop and Mobile Experiences

Optimized Website Mockup On Multiple Devices

If it is not planned and intentional, we often check only the experiences we're used to. For example, if I am a big desktop user, I’ll likely focus on the desktop experience. While all experiences are important, we often neglect the ones that we are less familiar with.

This can be even more detrimental if your habits are a minority compared to your customers. If your customers like buying your product on their phones, and you are optimizing speeds for desktop only, then the majority of your customers are going to have a bad experience. This will hurt your business.

It is important to check all experiences. Whether you have a desktop site, mobile site, or an app, make sure it is working appropriately. Does it take a long time to load? If so, you aren’t reaching your online store potential.

Look through Shopify and find a fast theme on desktop and mobile. Test them out and visit each page on the site. Have your team and friends test it too and give honest feedback.

Your website is the storefront of your shop. If you walked into a store and there was trash all over the floor or the hallways were blocked, do you think you would stay long and make a purchase? Probably not. It’s the same for a website. Make it fast and easy to use.

If possible pick a responsive layout, designed for simple use and easy to maneuver. Continue to update your site with any changes Shopify or the theme developer makes. An outdated theme can also slow you down. To learn more, check out this resource on the best practices to enhance your Shopify store design

Prevent Downloading Too Many Apps or Plugins

The more software you invite into your website, the greater the chance it will slow down. It’s like owning a bike and putting on a tire or chain that’s not perfect. It’s a problem but you might be able to get around it. Then one day you change the seat and it doesn’t fit right. The combination of problems makes it much harder to ride. Apps hold multiple risks.

If the app has an issue, then that could slow you down. If more than one app has an issue, that can be detrimental to your speed. Also, your apps likely have to work together, and if you have too many, it’ll be like too many people in a hallway taking up space and bumping into each other.

The solution is to find the best apps in the market that can fulfill your needs. The fewer apps that can fulfill your needs, usually by finding a service that can do more than one thing, the better it will be for your speed.

When you consolidate apps, you are also better integrated which makes things easier. Ask yourself if the app or the function it does is essential.

Evaluate Large Files

Image Compression app screenshot

Source: ImageOptim

As mentioned briefly before while auditing your site, large files are a big problem for your website.

Have you ever sent a high-quality PDF to someone on a messaging app? Depending on where they are and what connection they have, it can take a lot more time to load. Then it’s a problem when they store it on their device, often wanting to get rid of it after they quickly scan the file. Since those files are so large, they become more of a problem than a solution.

If your site has files, likely pictures, that are too big, it will slow down your site. Shopify developers continue to recommend compressing those files and finding a solution built for a faster website.

Sliders can take up a lot of space. Try removing them if you have it and instead place your best picture in the header. This clean look is a pillar to responsive layouts and is the style for today.

You can use Shopify experts to maximize all the benefits bestowed by your online store fully. And if you're new to Shopify and want to start, Shopify offers a Free Trial that you can test-drive for 30 days to see how you like the platform and the features. 

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