Website performance and speed play a key role in making the e-commerce market highly competitive. Attractive offers and product selections are no longer sufficient for getting ahead of the competition. User experience also plays a part. It comprises of site reliability, speed and website friendliness. Among these factors, website speed has a direct impact on sales and conversions. Moreover, your website load time is a deciding factor in determining rank in Google search results.
High-performance e-commerce websites often lead to a huge increase in return visits, low bounce rates, greater conversions, higher ranks in organic search, and improved user experience. Slow websites will cost you more and ruin your reputation. Reducing the load time of the page, positively impacts your marketing and sales processes. You’re going to get higher traffic and attract more qualified leads that can be turned into clients.
Here are some recommendations on how to improve your e-commerce website performance to 2x conversions.
1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) is a group of web servers distributed across different geographical areas that offer web content to end users in relation to their location. All user requests will be sent to the same hardware when you host the website on a single server. This in turn increases the time needed to process every request as well as the load time when users are far-off from the server. With content delivery network, user requests are relayed to the closest server. This results in a quicker delivery of content to a user and your e-commerce website works faster. Although this method is quite expensive, it’s an effective way to optimise the load time.
2. Set-Up a Well-Defined Goal for the E-Commerce Website
The website should have a distinct goal, which explicitly serves business targets and the needs of potential clienteles. The website needs to display its distinct value proposition by providing factual information at the appropriate time. Messages, content, design, media and services are some examples of unique value propositions.
3. Use Fast and Reliable Hosting
A fast web host is important to ensure better website performance and optimisation. There are three possible types of host:
- Dedicated Server
- Virtual Private Servers (VPS) hosting
- Shared hosting
Dedicated servers are the most expensive hosting option. You pay a server rent, as they are your own physical servers. Moreover, you can hire a system administrator to maintain it. Another way is to rent dedicated cloud resources from various public cloud providers like Google and AWS. You have full control of this type of server and all resources. Public cloud providers feature unlimited and on-demand scalability in different packages.
Just like dedicated servers, Virtual Private Servers are much faster and uses several servers for distributing content. VPS allows you to make various configurations on the virtual server without affecting other users on the server.
Shared hosting is the most liked type of hosting across the globe as it’s cheaper and will take the shortest time ever to get your e-commerce website online. Shared hosting allows you to share the disk space, RAM and CPU with various sites that use the server. This is the main reason why this type of hosting is slow as compared to dedicated server and VPS.
4. Analyse Data and Make Informed Decisions for Site Optimisation
With the help of results from Google Analytics and other tracking software, try to figure out why users and potential returning clients are switching from your site to competitor websites. Based on your findings, make some changes to you website and try out A/B testing. This ultimately helps you find the right method that’s more successful in converting guests into customers.
5. Use High-Quality Images and Product Descriptions
One of the goals of any e-commerce website is to provide customers with an experience, as real as possible that makes them feel as if they’re purchasing items from a physical store. Having high-quality images helps you achieve this goal. A lot of images and graphics on your product pages improves engagement but also slows down the website due to their large sizes. You can use different compressing image tools without compromising its quality or by using HTML responsive image attributes. The product description also needs to be precise by providing a solution to your client’s pain points.
6. Reduce the Number of Plugins
Plugins are common features of each website. They add specific components suggested by third parties. Unfortunately, additional plugins require more resources to run them. This results to a slower working e-commerce website and may lead to security issues. It’s important to check out all the plugins installed and delete the unnecessary ones. You can do this by running performance tests on your site to find out which plugins are slowing down your website.
Website performance and speed not only depends on the number of installed plugins but also their quality. Avoid plugins that load various scripts and styles or generate numerous database queries.
The best solution is to keep the essential ones and ensure they’re up to date.
7. Enable Gzip Compression
Gzip Compression is an efficient way of reducing sizes of files. Moreover, it minimises the HTTP requests and the server response time. It compresses the files before sending them to the browser then on reaching the user’s side, the browser unzips them and showcases the contents. This method is compatible with all files on your website.
You can enable this feature on your e-commerce website by adding some lines of code or by using the Gzip software.
8. Systematise Your Tracking with Google Tag Manager
9. Detect 404 Errors
A 404 error implies that a “Page isn’t found”. The message comes when the accessed content of a website no longer exists. You can use crawling tools and plugins to detect and rectify a 404 error. Upon detecting all 404 errors, you need to evaluate the traffic that they generated, whether they were indexed by Google and whether they had any backlinks. You can then decide whether to just remove all links to those pages, or 301 redirect them.
10. Use Less Pop-Up Quick View Windows
The whole essence of improving and increasing your site speed and performance to 2x conversions is to help users, who are often impatient, find and purchase products they require in a hurry. In theory, providing visitors with a pop-up view window that displays the actual product, right from a product listings page, should save them time to decide. This approach can actually impede a user’s experience on your site by:
- Adding an extra step to the user’s journey
- Frustrating the user as he/she might click on it by accident
- Being mistaken for a product page
More importantly, it can considerably slow down your website loading time.
11. Ease Up on Homepage Hero Slides
Carefully analyse various multiple image slideshows before including them onto your website. The dimension and quality of a hero slider needs to be perfect in order to increase load times. Cut down on the number of homepage slides or don’t use them at all to increase your website’s performance and speed. If you must use one, choose a high-quality, well-thought-out hero image with a clear CTA.
Currently, a normal user expects website pages to load in less than 3 seconds. If your website fails to meet this expectation, you’ll lose plenty of website traffic and in turn reduce your income significantly. Consider applying these simple yet effective website speed optimisation approaches:
- Begin your optimisation with the most speed-reducing aspects and focus on pages that define your conversion rate the most
- Evaluate the fundamental elements of website success; conversion, visibility and usability
- Analyse your website speed and focus on the pages and features that require the most attention in regard to these factors.
The data and tools shared should be sufficient to help you begin building a case for your website speed optimisation and increasing your e-commerce site’s performance to 2x conversions.