Speed kills. In the world of online commerce, the expression morphs into “slow website page speed kills revenue.” Ecommerce website speed improvements often deliver the best ROI, as faster pages rank higher in Organic Search, often offering better value than additional PPC spending. Many companies can see increases of 10% or more by implementing simple optimization initiatives. And yet, page speed optimization in ecommerce isn’t the hot ticket it might be. Compared to various “miracle pill” extensions such as Varnish, optimization doesn’t command the same attention or interest. However, Fun and Function blissfully ignored this phenomenon – and got great results!
How Can You Tell When a Website Needs Page Speed OptimizationMavenEcommerce has been helping our client Fun and Function with routine features and updates for some time. Recently, we had offered them to audit their Magento store and to give them suggestions about improvements with potential to decrease page loading time. Prior to any optimization work it is a good idea to measure the performance – and based on the measurement from a third-party resource, WebPageTest, it was immediately clear that there was room for improvement: Fun and Function’s Homepage Metrics Before Optimiation (data: WebPageTest) Three related metrics simulating a connection over a relatively fast Cable left users unimpressed:
- it took 1.7 seconds for the web server to respond on the first visit (Time To First Byte)
- users saw website content after waiting for over 5.5 seconds (domContentLoaded)
- the home page was fully loaded at 8.6 seconds (Document Load Time)
Choosing the Right Page Speed GoalIt is easy to make a website faster simply by stripping off functionality and by decreasing image quality. In the case of Fun and Function that was not an option, as website owners wanted to gain improvements without losing functionality. Optimizing a page with 162 page elements (Requests) with the total size of almost 4Mb required exploring each component so that some may be combined while others (unused) are turned off. The goal distilled into gaining quick and safe wins in terms of number of page elements reduced.
Our Approach to Page Speed OptimizationMavenEcommerce devoted 100 development hours to have a dedicated scrum team run one sprint of performance optimization for the home page, product category page and individual product pages. This team of Certified Magento Developers explored the usual culprits: each one of the (too) many page elements, slow third-party scripts, multiple hosts (page content served by internal and external sources), as well as the various server, content, cache and other best practice no-nos. (learn more by downloading our Magento Optimization Whitepaper)
Seeing Page Speed Optimization ResultsThe speed data of the optimized Home page attests, improvements without the loss of functionality were readily available: Fun and Function’s Home Page Metrics After Optimization (data: WebPageTest) Reviewing previously mentioned metrics:
- web server to responded twice as fast (Time To First Byte decreased from 1.7 seconds to 0.8 seconds)
- users now see website content after 2.2 seconds, compared to 5.5 seconds previously (domContentLoaded)
- the home page fully loaded at 7.7 seconds, compared to 8.6 seconds previously (Document Load Time)
The Optimization TakeawaysChances are shoppers are paying the “unobserved costs” of time spent on sub-optimized online commerce pages, with the predictable effect on purchases and revenues for the store owners. As the relentless addition of web page features continues to slow down web pages, store owners must either choose a nimbler set of features or take the time and effort to keep their websites as efficient and clutter-free as possible. Whatever you choose to do:
- keep a close watch on the performance KPIs for the most popular pages
- refrain from adding new features without evaluating performance impact
- proactively manage the number of page components (requests)