Introduction to Shopify Speed Optimization

on January 8, 2019

Everybody knows how annoying waiting too long for a website to load can get, especially if you're in the middle of a buying spree. That is why speed optimization is essential for your Shopify store. People tend not to spend their time in vain while it's loading. They just go away, and you lose your potential clients. Google doesn't like slow sites either. Therefore their rank gets downgraded, which only worsens the situation. 

Indeed, speed optimization can be costly, so it is important to know how to balance expenses and benefits. Below are a couple of ways to upgrade your website significantly without any assistance and additional costs.

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The first thing to consider is your site's measurements. There are two main metrics for website performance assessment, Google PageSpeed Insights score and the real load speed, measured with GTmetrix.

Google PageSpeed Insights Tool

Google PageSpeed Insights is a website performance monitoring tool. We recommend that you use it as default because it shows how Google rates your store. Since the last update, it has become more informative and powerful due to Google Lighthouse data used.  At the same time, it has become more demanding for mobile versions.

Google Pagespeed Insights Tool Shopify

By the way, you can use the Google Chrome Lighthouse tool locally in the DevTools panel of the Audit tab.

GTmetrix Speed Test

GTmetrix also provides you with a lot of reports and detailed explanations of your store performance. You can run different tests and get useful recommendations concerning waterfall reports, timings, etc.

GTMetrix Shopify

Shopify Website Optimization Approach

Let's see how we can receive more by doing less. When you run Google PageSpeed Insights Tool and GTmetrix, you get a lot of recommendations. However, don't try and heed them all.  For example, they offer to eliminate render-blocking resources. It means you have to move all CSS and JS to the bottom of the page. But if you do that, the page layout will break while loading, and JS may crash as well. You will probably spend much time trying to fix it, so, obviously, it is not the best move.  But in this case, what should you do first?

Reduce Image Size

The size of each image should be the same as you want to load. There are two kinds of pictures on Shopify. The first one is photos; I wrote a guide for their optimization. You can read it here. The second one is icons and logos. You should ensure that SVG or font icons are used for it when possible. Vector images, easily scalable and lightweight, look great on any display.

Optimize images Shopify

Image optimization is the primary way to reduce page size and increase speed ratings. So now we have the first thing to do.

Uninstall Unused Shopify Apps

Most Shopify apps load some scripts to your store. This process is usually asynchronous and does not influence the visual speed of page loading. However, each script may load more scripts, analytics, and new assets, which can decrease page rates or even freeze the page.

Optimize Shopify Apps

Review your app list and uninstall everything you haven't used for a long time. It's better to remove all the applications you can get by without even if you use them from time to time.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a tool for protecting and accelerating websites. It caches assets, minimizes CSS and JS, prevents DDoS attacks, and does many other things that automatically speed up your store. You can read here how to use it with Shopify. The SSL certificate should be issued within 24 hours. If your store is already live, Cloudflare will provide you natural performance growth.

Cloudflare Shopify

Conclusion

There is no silver bullet that will solve all the performance issues at once. Depending on your requirements, you can spend weeks working on it. But, it is possible to achieve reasonable rates and page speed without spending much time and resources if you know how to prioritize your work. Focusing on the most important things first is the best way to meet your business needs.