Welcome boutique owners and e-commerce friends!
So here’s something that’s been coming up a lot lately…. Google PageSpeed Insights… Thanks a bunch Google! We are all kinda obsessed with site speeds… But you just made our lives 10x more complicated! We get asked CONSTANTLY about this, and I’m like pulling my hair out about this every time.
“How do you improve website speed on Shopify?”
Site speed is important - no doubt about it.
And here’s why:
79% of customers “dissatisfied” with a site’s performance are less likely to buy from them again.
So having a speedy site is super important.
And when we’re talking about speedy, ideally we are looking for a site to load in under 3 seconds.
If your site is slow to load, you WILL lose potential customers, they’ll just bounce off or go to someone who provides a better user experience.
So in this post today, I’m sharing 3 things I think you should be doing to get your site as fast as possible
And I’m going to give you the scoop on why we are not a fan of the speed score!
VIDEO MORE YOUR JAM? WATCH IT HERE:
So, Page Speeds. What’s the deal, Google?
A few months ago, Shopify added page speed score. The PageSpeed Score is based on Google Lighthouse performance metrics. (And just FYI, if you want to dive deeper into this, it gets SUPER technical with jargon & web talk like HTML, Java and CSS...!)
There are some of factors you CAN control, like apps, themes, code and coding customizations, images, videos & fonts.
But there are also some factors you CANNOT control, like:
- Your customer’s location, device & network they’re on
- Any limitations related to your platform
Shopify’s infrastructure is designed to be fast, but there are still some things built into the infrastructure that Google PageSpeed Insights thinks impacts your site speed.
But before you give up…
Let’s just remember why Page Speed is important 👉
⚡️ 79% of customers “dissatisfied” with a site’s performance are less likely to buy from them again
⚡️ 64% of smartphone users expect a website to load in four seconds or less
⚡️ 47% of online shoppers expect web pages to load in two seconds or less
⚡️ Speeding up a page by just one second boosted conversions by 7%.
So you DO want your site to be as fast as possible.
And if you do want to improve your site speed, or you have got a low speed score, like you’re sitting around 20 or less (or a Letter grade, D-F) ...
Then I’ve got a few suggestions here for you to try that WILL make a difference 👉
3 Quick Wins To Speed Up Your Site
1) Optimizing images
When I say images, I’m talking about product photos, graphics… ANY image that’s on your site. And images make up 50 to 75% of a web pages’ total weight. The higher quality the images, the more the weight.
As it turns out, slow pages are 90% caused by images being incorrectly sized OR images that are not in the right file format which causes files to be much bigger than they need to be, which slows down your site when someone tries to open them.
👉 So here’s what to do:
⚡️ Resize the image by resizing the pixel dimensions in Photoshop, Canva, or TinyJPG.com
⚡️ Use apps to resize automatically, or everytime you upload images (most apps are paid but pretty low cost). You basically want the smallest file size, without degrading the image.
⚡️ Enable lazy loading: for first time visitors arriving at your site, this pulls up low-resolution images first for a second or too, until the high-resolution version has loaded.
2) Remove unused or clunky apps
The second thing you HAVE to do is to remove unused or clunky apps. Ok. Newsflash here. Anyone can make an app in the Shopify app store. Anyone. So the question to ask is are the Apps on your site are well coded?
Because when you add an app, it installs code around your site. And what can happen is the app or the code can interfere or break major aspects of your site, or just really slow down your site, because the site needs to load every single app and every single image when someone opens the page.
And it gets better!
When you actually remove an app - so basically when you just go to your apps and hit the delete button to remove an app - it doesn't actually remove any of the code that was involved. So deleting the app doesn’t necessarily solve the problem - there will still be remnant code throughout your theme 😱
Some apps do have an uninstall option that will actually do that for you, but even so, you probably just want to email the app team and have them check to remove any coding related to the app, OR get your developer to do this for you.
In terms of apps that could help you do this…
Findify is a great app to remove duplicate code that can happen especially where you’ve got looping happening in big product collections and the site is trying to load everything over and over.
Findify has been able to do things like reduce the load time of a 30,000-product collection from 15 seconds to just 2.5 seconds… Pretty impressive!
Always check that the app you are thinking about installing is actually reputable. And keep in mind how things are on your site before and after you add the app so you can monitor what happens next and keep an eye out for any issues.
And if you do have a bad experience, get in touch with the app team and tell them too so they can improve their app!
3) Speed Optimized Themes
Lastly, make sure you’re using a speed optimized theme.
This is why we recommend using a speed optimized theme like Out of the Sandbox Themes for their performance - they are high quality, fast, robust, and well coded themes. Their themes are feature rich, but they are super clean so they are super fast.
Shopify Theme Store is good too.
We really do not recommend going outside of these themes though - other themes might look neat and appear low cost, but you just can’t always trust the coding, and so it might just end up breaking your site and causing headaches in the long run.
Also, make sure your theme is up to date!
Things change all the time, and the theme doesn’t even have to be that old to cause an issue. We’ve seen this happen a number of times where Shopify updates mean that your theme isnt the latest version, and this can cause your site to break.
Outdated Shopify themes may have outdated libraries which can slow your site down, especially if there have been any big updates to Shopify or the theme.
If you can update your theme every year or so, that’s a great habit to get into. Shopify and Out of the Sandbox themes mean you’ll always upgrades for free whenever they release new versions.
And when you’re loading a new theme or update, remember that you’ll need to set it up from scratch and recustomize it, and this can take time (or money, if you outsource that!). If you’ve heavily customized your site, then that is tied to your theme, and you’ll lose all that customization when you load the new theme or update.
The bottom line though is to use a great theme that’s optimized for speed - and PS.. we recommend Turbo!
So that’s pretty much the low down on speeding up your site.
And here’s the kicker: You might do all of these things and it’ll make your site faster, and your customer experience better...
But it still might not improve your PageSpeeds Insight Score.
I know, riiiight???
So I know some people are freaking out because they have low Google PageSpeed scores - but here’s what I gotta tell you.
It doesn’t really work like that.
Yes, we want fast sites.
And yes, PageSpeeds Insight tells you if you’ve got some work to do, and that’s helpful!
But we are not a fan of that score.
Here's Why we are not a fan of the speed score
Ever since Shopify launched the Google Page Speed Insight tool, I’ve not been head over heels with it.
It’s mainly because a perfect score is just unattainable. I've never seen anyone with an amazing score - and you can ask other web agencies the same thing!
Across the board, we’ve just not seen high scores. And there are some big-time multi million dollar e-commerce websites pulling scores lower than 10 and still bringing in the big bucks (we promise).
Although by the way - I haven’t seen many sites above 30. So bottom line... There are some really really really successful boutiques and other e commerce companies out there that have terrible scores.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that some fixes that get recommended aren’t even possible! Like using “next generation” image file format like JPEG 2000 - but JPEG 2000 is not supported by Google Chrome! So go figure.
So... DO 👏 NOT 👏 GET 👏 HUNG 👏 UP 👏 On the score.
Don’t let it trip you up.
Do what you can to optimize and then spend your time and focus elsewhere!
There are more important things to focus on FIRST (optimize images, clear up your code, optimize your theme).
Just focus on some things that will truly help your biz!
So to Wrap Up
- Your site speed and Page load speed ARE important
- Google PageSpeed Insight score is always going to be low for Shopify sites
- Google PageSpeed Insight score does not correlate to actual page load speed OR what your customers want
So don’t worry about it!
But if you are worried about your page speed, start with these 3 things and that should address a LOT of the issues, and you’ll see site speeds - and user experience - improve.
But if site speed STILL gives you a headache, let us know in the comments - we’re here for you girl!