How to optimize your store for performance
Many merchants use Google PageSpeed or similar tools to evaluate their performance. Shopify also recently launched a built-in tool allowing one to get a performance score.
While focusing on performance is essential (everyone loves fast websites), the truth is that the theme is always never the reason for 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 pieces of advice 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 you should care about. To do that, ensure 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 to your store, you could try an app such as Crush Pics.
- Be careful with large images: it may be tempting to upload extremely large images (like 3000 px wide or bigger) to have the best quality possible. However, the larger the image is, the more time it will take to load. For instance, instead of a 3000px wide image for your slideshow, try uploading a 2000px image instead. If the quality is acceptable for you, it is probably a good trade-off to do. Remember that most customers will not zoom into most of your images.
- Limit the number of apps: as a rule of thumb, not having more than three 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 processes. Apps, even if you uninstalled them, will often have leftover 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, impacts 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 tons 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 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 to a content page instead of the home page, where the performance is not critical.
- Try to limit the number of videos that you are using. Using many videos is tempting, but videos 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 the 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 trying to increase your score. There are a lot of external factors on Shopify that you cannot control. Because of the exact nature of e-commerce, you cannot have a super lightweight store (nobody will buy your products if you do not show images, videos, and rich content...). Performance is always a trade-off; it is important, but if it feels fast, it is likely fast enough, and you should not spend much more time on this.