How improve your store speed if everything is bad?😱

By Azamat K., 9 February 2021

In this article, we discussed what measures should be taken to ensure that your store is fast in the end, and remains fast. But the reality is that all our clients are no longer beginners and they did not know about our advice. They contact us already in the red zone of PageSpeed Insights in the hope that we will bring the rating to the yellow or green zone. But it's not as easy as it might seem.

 

PageSpeed Insights (PSI) is a tool that analyzes the content of a web page and offers solutions that will speed up its loading. The PSI shows the overall page load speed score in the ratings, which is really cool. Moreover, Shopify has implemented a PSI rating.

The green zone is a PageSpeed Insights score of 90 or higher. The yellow zone is from 50 to 90. Below 50 is the red zone, the bad zone. We will take the results of the mobile versions, since the problems arise mainly in the mobile phone segment. The results for computers are mostly satisfactory.

 

Bounce Rate

To begin with, let's understand that the faster the site loads, the more convenient it is to use this site. If the site is loaded for a long time, the Bounce Rate will increase accordingly. By bounce rate, we mean users who went to the site and left without doing anything. Without clicking on any link, without staying on the site for more than 15 seconds.

Low download speed is one of the main reasons for failures. In addition to the speed, there are other reasons, but according to statistics, 90% of users, not wanting to wait for the content to load, close the site. Because of this, the bounce rate is growing rapidly.

If you have a high bounce rate, you need to take all measures. Otherwise, it will negatively affect the conversion rate. You may not be doing as well as you expected at the moment because of the rejections. Therefore, in this article, we will look at what needs to be done to correct this situation.

We warn you in advance, you should be ready to make sacrifices, to refuse this or that service that you believe helps your business. Because there are times when unnecessary third-party services cause more harm than good. So be the cold head as possible.

P.S

Before proceeding with further reading, take a measurement of your store through Pagespeed Insights. Look at the rating, if it is in the red zone, then be sure to read the recommendations below. This will help you find out the reason.

 

Optimized theme

You probably know about the importance of the Shopify theme. Choosing a really good theme will solve a lot of problems in many ways. Themes are the foundation of any store and therefore it is with the theme that you need to start checking.

The main factors of buying a theme for store owners are appearance and functionality. Most often, functional themes are not optimized. And that was the beginning of the continuing struggle to improve the evaluation of PSI. It even goes so far that the owners turn to optimization agencies 😄

We hope you know the name of your theme. The goal is to test the demo version of the theme via PSI. Usually, there are no installed apps in the demo version, so the estimate will be real. This way you can find out the original score.

If the initial rating is low, below 30, then you have a problem with the theme itself. And this will complicate further optimization. You can optimize the theme itself, but first, it will take a lot of time, and secondly, the theme developers release updates that erase any changes to the theme, which sometimes makes optimizing the theme very difficult. Therefore, it is not practical for us to do anything with the theme files. It is easier to contact the developers of this theme and point out the problem with optimization.

 

What solutions can be found?

  1. As mentioned earlier, contact the developers of the theme. Tell them about the problem and hope that they will fix it soon.
  2. Change the theme to a more optimized one. If you find a better theme and replace it, then this will solve a lot of problems in the majority of cases.
  3. You can try to optimize the theme itself, but to do this, you need to contact the optimization agencies. Since it is possible to delay the download of theme files, which can speed up the download speed. But at the same time, some of the functionality will be loaded later. For example, if earlier buttons, tabs, or any other element that directly depend on JS were loaded immediately, then after you postpone loading, JS will start loading later.

 

We advise you to pay attention to the 2nd point, on changing the theme. This is the most correct approach. Remember when we said we'd have to make sacrifices? But if this is unacceptable for you since you have done a lot of things and configured your theme, then changing the theme can be painful. In this case, the 3rd point will do. In this case, you need to contact specialists. Including us, too. We will help you.

Perhaps there are other solutions, but for now, we have settled on this. Nevertheless, we continue to look for new opportunities to improve the quality of our services.

 

Apps influence

Apps are the second reason why your store is slow to load. And first, let's find out why this is so? It seems that apps on the contrary bring a lot of useful things.

To begin with, let's understand the process of installing apps. We will not go into details, we just need to know that when installing, the app downloads new files to the theme and connects them. And these are additional requests, the page size increases and the site starts to work slower. That is, you should be prepared that after installing the app, the PSI score will decrease. The question is how much.

It doesn't matter how cool and optimized your theme is. If a large number of apps are installed, the performance will be low. It also depends on the quality of the app. If the app is not optimized, then this one is enough to reduce the PSI score by 20-30 points, maybe even more.

We will make real measurements via GTmetrix to check the loading speed of stores with and without installed apps. We can't disclose the app names. With themes, you can do the same, the difference between an optimized theme and a non-optimized one will be huge.

We experimented and this is what happened. We have our own test store. There are no apps there. The PSI rating is about 70. We made a measurement using GTmetrix. Below is the result. This is an optimized theme without installed apps. Therefore, the download speed is fast. We would like to note that the measurement was made on a mobile phone and with bandwidth throttling.

 

Bandwidth throttling is the intentional slowing or speeding of an internet service by an Internet service providerSource

Next, we installed only 1 app, and the result can be found below: 

The download speed has increased almost 3 times. The page size and the number of requests increased almost 2 times. And only 1 app is installed. This suggests that even 1 app in the potential can affect performance so much. It also happens the other way around, we had a case where the client had 8 apps installed, but his download speed and PSI score remained within the normal range. Not all apps will significantly degrade performance. There are apps that do not connect their files, they work in the background.

But we consider the case when many apes are installed. Because most of our customers suffer from their abundance. And we are always faced with the task of how to optimize the store, where 15+ apps are installed.

 

What solutions can there be?

  1. What you can do yourself: 
    • Removing unnecessary apps. We remember the sacrifice. By removing the apps, the number of requests is reduced, thereby reducing the page size. Surely you have noticed after installing the app how your store has become slower to load. At such moments, always think about whether you will need this app?
    • Contact the app developers. The most logical option, but in this case, you will have to wait for the app optimization. If app developers are really interested in improving the app, they will meet you halfway. Otherwise, you can always delete their app.
  2. You will need the help of a specialist: 
    • Postpone JS app files. The same solution as in the case of themes. It will be necessary to find out the influence of apps. And postpone the JS files of those apps that most affect performance or that are not critical.
    • It will be necessary to check where and when the apps are used. Let's say there are apps that are used only on the product page, in this case, you will need to load their files only on the product page. This way, you can get rid of unnecessary requests.
    • There is a possibility that when you delete an app, some of its files remain. You need to get rid of the leftovers, otherwise, the leftovers can accumulate and your store will eventually suffer greatly. Specialists find and remove all the remnants.

I hope now it is clear why it is undesirable to abuse with the choice of the apps. If the app loads the store, but it is very useful, then it is better to leave it or try to postpone it, making sure that nothing breaks after that. In the end, you decide to keep or remove the app.

 

Now if everything is worse than you can imagine: 

Not an optimized theme + a lot of apps, this is the worst-case scenario that could be. These stores are very difficult to work with. To accelerate requires drastic changes and clear consistency. Take all the measures mentioned above. Here you can not do without specialists.

Sometimes store owners do not use video resources correctly. And as a result, the download speed is greatly increased, as in the example below:

Note how many seconds the video resource adds. And most of our clients do not suspect this. As a solution, either you should get rid of the video and put a picture instead, or as a better solution, postpone the video download. This is perfectly done with Lazy load.

Lazy loading is a method for loading media resources that are not critical for display. When using this method, resources will be loaded only when necessary. For example, when the user scrolled to a certain place on the page.

Excess analytics. For you, as a store owner, web analytics is vital to understand what is happening on the site. You collect and analyze data about users in order to study their behavior. All this is done for the development of the store. But it is not necessary to connect with more than one analyst. Even one analytics is hurting the store's performance. And in most cases, the owners install several at once. We see some disadvantages in this. First, performance suffers greatly. Secondly, there is too much information to process, which will only get in the way. Instead, leave only one analytics, remove everything else. Do the cleaning, and put your store in order.

 

Result

You should always understand that there are applications, themes, analytics, and so on that do not prioritize page speed. Your store must be and remain productive for the convenience of your customers. You, like us, are also too fixated on the PSI score. In most cases, the score is improved by deleting apps or changing the theme. That is, the influence of apps and themes on the assessment is enormous. But whether it's worth it is up to the store owner to decide. Usually, owners expect that after optimization, the score will be in the green zone. But unfortunately, this is not possible if you leave everything as it is. Therefore, we must try to find a balance and at the same time understand the reasons. We, in turn, try to bring the assessment to the yellow zone as much as possible. Through optimizations, advice, and cooperation with our customers. 

The customer always has the last word.

You may also have other problems, unique cases.

Any questions? You can always contact us

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