Imagine yourself as a shopper looking for chocolates to gift a friend. It seems that some websites take too long to load every page. This makes it difficult to find what you need. What do you do? You go to another store.
This is a perfect example of eCommerce site speed. Customers will shop elsewhere if they can’t navigate your site and find the product they are looking for instantly ( in less than two seconds). This means you’ll lose customers who would have bought your products. Who wants that?
Let’s look at the speed of your website and what you can do to improve it.
Site speed measurement
Begin by understanding the current performance of your site. You have a number of tools to help you with this.
- GTMetrix. This gives you a score and breaks down metrics such as “fully loaded time” and provides detailed recommendations for speed improvement.
- Pingdom Website Performance Test. This interface is simpler and more straightforward, with important metrics such as page size and load time. You can also choose a location to test.
- PageSpeed insights. This displays scores from Google split between desktop and mobile.
Multiple tools are best to get the most accurate results. This will give you an idea of the speed at which your site loads, and allow you to determine how optimization can improve load time.
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Tips to create an eCommerce store quickly
1. Begin with a top-quality host
Your web host is the foundation of your website’s speed, so it is important to select one that prioritizes performance. You should look for:
- Server-side caching
- You have enough resources to support your site’s needs like bandwidth and RAM
- SSD drives with high performance
- Software updates, such as PHP and MYSQL
Many times, thousands of websites can be piled onto the same server using the same resources, even if they are on a shared hosting plan. Consider choosing a hosting company that limits the number sites that can be placed on each server. Or, upgrade to a dedicated or VPS plan to have your own server space.
Are you unsure where to begin? See our list of recommended hosts.
2. Select a reliable, fast theme
Your site will load slower if it has more code than a simple theme. This is especially true for themes that include plugins or page builders.
While it is not advisable to avoid a heavy theme, you should consider the pros and cons of using one. Many themes allow you to disable features that you don’t use, which can be a great way of balancing your site’s speed needs and design goals.
How can you tell if a theme runs fast? You can run the demo pages using the speed tools mentioned above, or you can read customer reviews to find out what real users think.
The Storefront theme makes a great starting point. It is simple, fast, intuitive, and flexible all at once.
3. Limit the number of plugins that you use
WordPress plugins offer endless flexibility and are one of its greatest benefits. But, you don’t have to install them all.
Speed can be affected by plugins
- Adding database queries. Many plugins pull data from your database to display elements on your front-end. This increases your server’s load.
- Hosting resources. The more plugins that you have, the greater your server resources. Your load time will be affected if you exceed the resources allocated by your hosting plan.
It’s not about how many plugins you have installed . There’s no right or wrong number. But quality is also important. Look for plugins that have multiple functions. Check reviews to see if they are fast and reliable. Also, ensure that you only install plugins from trusted sources like the WordPress.org repository, or the WooCommerce Marketplace.
You can also download the P3 plugin Performance Profiler to get an idea of how certain plugins impact your site.
4. Maintain WordPress, themes, plugins, and other software up-to-date
WordPress theme, plugin, and core updates often offer more than security patches or cool features. They can actually speed up your site with optimized code in many cases.
You should ensure that you update your site whenever they are available. You can disable auto-updates if you don’t want to monitor your WordPress site often.
5. Reduce your images
Images can be the most challenging files to manage on your server. You want to minimize their size as much as possible. It is important to balance the quality of images with their size. You don’t want blurry images of your product! These are some great steps to follow:
- Select the correct format. Upload JPEG files unless your image has transparent background.
- Use only the image you require. You don’t need to upload images larger than 500 pixels in width if the area you are filling is small.
- The compressor will run the image. Image compressors can be used to reduce the file size of your images by stripping them of any unnecessary data or information. Plugins such as EWWW Photo Optimizer or Smush will take care of this automatically. You might also consider using ImageOptim to run your images before you upload them.
For more information, please see our optimization eCommerce images post.
6. Consider lazy loading images
You might want to enable image lazy loading if you have many images or pages that are long. This feature automatically delays loading images until the site visitor scrolls down to the place they are on the page. Your customers don’t need to wait for your media to load before being able to consume your content or purchase your products.
Jetpack’s Free lazy loading feature can be activated with one click.
7. Install a caching plugin
This is offered by some hosting providers on a server-level basis, but it’s also possible to use a plugin such as WPSuper Cache.
8. Install a CDN
A content delivery network is a global network of servers distributed around the globe. It downloads files, videos, and other assets from you site and then serves them through its network. This reduces the load on your server.
This is a great solution to any store. However, it’s even more useful for international businesses. If your server is in New York, and someone visits your site from India, the site will load from the New York server. A CDN loads your website from the closest server to each customer. This ensures that each visitor has the best possible speed experience.
9. Prevent brute force attacks
Brute force attacks are when hackers use bots in an attempt to gain access to your site. They can generate thousands of password and username combinations every minute!
This sounds more like a speed problem than a security problem.
It can impact security but it can also put strain on your server. This can cause slowdowns and increase in login attempts per minute. It is very easy to prevent brute force attacks. You just need to enable Jetpack’s brute force attack protection feature.
10. Upgrade your PHP version to increase your memory limit
You need to upgrade PHP version (the programming language WordPress uses) just as you update themes and plugins. Each update is quicker than the previous and can improve your site’s performance.
The version of PHP you use is determined by your host. You can usually change this in your hosting control panel. However, the steps will vary depending on your provider. You can also contact customer service to ask them to change it for you.
contains the minimum WordPress PHP requirements. We recommend taking a complete backup of all pages before you update your PHP version. Also, make sure to test everything to make sure it works correctly.
What about your memory limit?
Your hosting provider has allocated a certain amount to your website’s memory. You may be able to exceed this limit depending on the site. WooCommerce recommends at least 128 MB
You can often increase your memory limit through your hosting control panel ( refer to our guide on this). However, if you are not able to do so, you can always contact your hosting provider.