How to optimize your store for performance
A lot of merchants use Google PageSpeed or similar tools to evaluate their performance. Shopify also recently launched a built-in tool allowing to get a performance score.
While focusing on performance is something important (everyone loves fast websites) the truth is that the theme is always never the reason of slow performance here. All our themes are being developed with performance in mind: we are using small, compact and optimized code.
Despite this, your store performance may suffer over time. Here are various advices that you should absolutely follow if you want your performance to stay good.
- Always optimize your images. We can't emphasize enough on this! So many people are uploading very heavy images. Images are, 99% of the time, the only performance issue that you should care about. To do that, make sure that you optimize your images before uploading them to Shopify (you can use this tool for JPG images, or this one for PNG images). If you already have a lot of images uploaded in your store, you could try an app such as Crush Pics.
- Limit the number of apps: as a rule of thumb, not having more than 3 apps installed that are affecting the storefront is a good target. You can of course have more apps (some apps that do not impact your storefront have no impact on performance ; for instance apps like financing apps).
- Whenever you uninstall an app, make sure to reach the app developers to ask if there are extra cleanup process. Apps, even if you uninstalled them, will often left code (known as "dead code") that, over time, can accumulate and affect the performance.
- Some Shopify features directly impact performance. For instance, the "dynamic checkout button", which allows your customers to buy in one click from the product page, impact the performance. You may consider trying to disable this feature.
- Be responsible in how you structure your pages: while the perspective of featuring a large number of products on the home page, with ton of sections, may seem appealing, this does not come free: the more content you add, the more time it takes for Shopify to generate your page, and the slower your performance is. Aiming for 4-6 sections on your home page is a good trade-off/
- If not absolutely required, try to avoid the "Map" section. This section uses the Google Map API and, while convenient and widely used by everyone, it is very performance intensive (they require a lot of scripts to be loaded to do the work). You could for instance move your maps into a content page instead of home page, where the performance is not critical.
- Try to limit the number of videos that you are using. Using a large number of videos is tempting, but video always come at a cost. Showing one video is ok, but uploading too many may affect performance. If possible, you should avoid using video on long page (such as video) as it may impact performance of already heavy pages.
- Finally, do not spend too much time on that: as long as you follow all the previous advice, you should not spend too much time on trying to increasing your score. There are a lot of external factors on Shopify that you cannot control, and because of the exact nature of e-commerce, you cannot realistically having a super lightweight store (nobody will buy your products if you do not show images, videos, rich content...). Performance is always a trade-off, is something important, but if it feels fast, it is likely fast enough and you should not spend much more time on this.