Last month, we published The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Magento Store for Around-the-Clock Holiday Sales in partnership with Groove. The ebook is a comprehensive guide to getting your Magento eCommerce store in shape for the holiday season. If you haven’t already started to prepare, time is running out to give your customers the best possible experience, not to mention maximizing revenue over the busiest shopping period of the year.
But better late than never, so I want to share some more optimization tips drawn from the Ultimate Guide to make sure that your customers don’t have to sit twiddling their thumbs before they can make a purchase.
In our previous Holiday Season preparation guide article, we focused on how you can use data to improve performance. Today I want to examine some of the techniques for improving Magento front-end performance.
Find The Bottlenecks
As the saying goes, premature optimization is the root of all evil. All of the advice I’m about to give is valid, but every eCommerce store is different. There’s no point wasting time on optimizations that don’t make a practical difference to your store’s performance.
There are several free tools to help identify targets for optimization. I recommend Pingdom Tools and Google Pagespeed Insights. Each provides useful information you can use to target optimizations where they’ll do the most good.
Reduce HTTP Requests
Every HTTP request takes time as data packets travel from the shopper’s browser to your server and back again. Reducing the number of round trips can substantially decrease latency problems.
Concatenation is joining all the files together into one big file. Minification is removing all the whitespace, comments, and other pieces of information the browser doesn’t care about.
Don’t Go Nuts With Trackers
Ideally, your store should initially only load the assets — including JS and CSS — it needs to display the content. Everything else should load after the content.
Images often constitute the largest proportion of a page’s weight. That’s especially true on eCommerce stores, where large compelling images can make all the difference to a sale.
On eCommerce product pages, I’d encourage you to use as many images as you think are necessary. However, those images should be optimized to consume as little bandwidth as possible. You can use a tool like ImageOptim to optimize before uploading, or use an extension like Image Optimizer to optimize them in place (although be aware, this can take a substantial chunk of your server’s resources if you have lots of product images).
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project is a way to do an end-run around the whole optimization process and deploy parallel pages that offer great performance on mobile.
Originally AMP was designed for news sites, but it’s seen considerable uptake with eCommerce stores too. Personally, I’d argue that the best approach is to optimize a store’s pages so they offer great performance whatever the platform, but eCommerce merchants should definitely be aware of AMP as an option.
If you haven’t already read it, be sure to take a look at The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Magento Store for Around-the-Clock Holiday Sales for more inspiration as we draw closer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.