The longer your website takes to load, the more likely people are to abandon it. Improving your Shopify site speed creates a better shopping experience, and can ultimately lead to more online sales.
I’ve had several questions come through recently around how you can improve you site speed, and also how you can check if your site is actually slow. This post takes you through both of those points.
Does my “Online Store Speed” matter?
Here, I’m referring to the number that you see in the Shopify* dashboard. If you login and then go to Online Store > Themes, you’ll see a number and a bit of a description around your site speed. This is provided by Shopify.
Chances are, this number will be fairly low and indicate that your site is not performing particularly well in terms of speed. This may be the case even if, when browsing your site, you think it’s loading fairly fast.
The Shopify site speed information, is something I generally recommend ignoring. In my experience, just because Shopify is saying your site is slow, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily cause for concern.
So how do I measure my Shopify site speed?
I’d recommend using a third party tool. The one I like to use, is Pingdom. You put your URL in, wait a few seconds, and then you’ll see the following:
My website is running on WordPress and using a page builder, so it’s not the quickest, but it’s not terrible either. The metrics you’ll want to look at are:
Not the most important metric, but since it’s colourful and understandable I thought it was worth a mention 🙂 If this is below a “C”, you should investigate why. That being said, the next metric is a better one to look at.
Generally, if this is below 3 seconds, you don’t need to be too concerned about your Shopify site speed.
If you’re seeing any of your apps here, with big file sizes (relative to all the other files), make a note of it. We’ll look at the impact apps can have on your page speed below.
How do I improve my Shopify site speed?
This is probably the question you’re here for. There are several things that go into how quickly your website loads, but in my experience, there are three usual culprits for a slow Shopify website.
Optimise your images
We all know how important visually appealing images are on an eCommerce store, but they can also be the reason for slow load times. For every image on your website, there are two things you need to do for speed optimisation.
Resize your images
Here, we’re talking about the dimensions of your images. An image that’s being used as a full width page banner, should not be the same size as your logo. The easiest way to figure out what size each of your image types should be is to read your themes’ documentation. It should provide a pixel (px) size for the various image types.
You can resize the images using something like Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, Canva or even Paint.
Compress your images
Files for web should be saved accordingly. Sometimes by compressing your images, you can make them around 80% smaller, which will lead to them loading quicker on your website.
I recommend compressing every image before you upload it to your site, using something like Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, or tinyjpg.com.
Alternatively, you can use a Shopify app like Image Optimizer to help compress both new and existing images.
Check your theme
Some Shopify themes aren’t great when it comes to site speed. Before purchasing a theme, I’d recommend running the demos and example stores through Pingdom, to see how they perform.
If the theme is slow, it usually is something that a developer can help fix, but this can get quite expensive. Where possible, I’d recommend switching to a quicker theme over trying to fix one that you know is slow.
Another thing to check with your theme, is the version. Shopify themes usually get fairly regular updates (frequency dependent on the theme) and it’s worth keeping your theme fairly up-to-date. Generally you’ll want to update every 18-months (ish), but if you know that the developers have made updates that’ll improve your page speed, then you may want to update sooner. If the theme has a Changelog, it should say what the updates have included, but otherwise, you’ll need to reach out to the theme developers to find out.
Check your apps
My final recommendation would be to audit the apps you’re using, specifically the ones that actually appear on your site (e.g. any app that changes how your store looks, or that add additional functionality to the customer facing part of your website).
A super-easy way to see if the app is impacting page speed is to read the reviews. If it really is a terrible app in terms of slowing your site down, chances are there will be a comment about it.
You can also try removing apps that you think may be slowing your store down, running a speed test, and checking the results. If said app is the culprit, and you can’t live without the functionality it provides, you may be able to at least find a better alternative.
As part of your app audit, you’ll also want to make sure that you don’t have any excess apps. If you’re not using the app, get rid of it.
Another point to note about apps, is that sometimes they don’t remove themselves properly. This means, that even when you click the remove app button, the app can still leave behind code that slows your site down. Regularly updating your theme is a good way to get rid of all this code. I’d also recommend making a copy of your theme before you install any app. That way, if you end up deciding straight away that the app isn’t for you, you can simply revert to the pre-app version of your theme (that you know, won’t have any stray code).
TLDR; What you need to know about Shopify site speed
- Don’t rely on the Shopify site speed metrics, use a tool like Pingdom
- Resize + optimise all your images
- Make sure your theme isn’t setting you up for site speed failure
- Remove unused apps, and where possible, find alternatives to apps that are slowing down your site
If you’d like any individual advice around the speed of your Shopify store, feel to reach out here. I offer a package around figuring out how you can improve your load times.
Otherwise, feel free to pop any questions about the article in my free Facebook group – Build Your Website, Build Your Business.
Please note, a (*) denotes an affiliate link. I only recommend products/services that I’ve used personally and genuinely found useful/enjoyed.
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Behind the blog…
Hey, I’m Kat.
I work with eCommerce business owners to build and improve their online stores. You can find out more about me here.