Speed optimisation should be a top priority for any website but especially for eCommerce sites. In the case of online stores, competition is fierce and there’s always a hard limit when you try to compete with prices before this will cut into your profit margin. Increasing site performance and offering your clients a good shopping experience can do much more to gain their loyalty, trust and money.
Having many years of experience in eCommerce and have worked on hundreds if not thousand PrestaShop online stores, we know for a fact that online shoppers no longer have the patience to wait two or three seconds for a page to load. A slow website will inevitably lead users back to searching for alternatives and end up spending their money on other websites. Page speed is very important and below you will find some of the biggest reasons why.
User experience, bounce and abandonment rates
As mentioned above, the public at large is very likely to leave a website if it’s too slow. And I can tell you this not just from experience but because there has been ample research on the topic showing that between 70-80% of users will bounce if the load time is higher than 3 seconds. Around half of web users expect a page to load in under 2 seconds. In short, every additional second your site is taking to load has the possibility to lose potential customers.
Even if a certain number of users will stay on your website, with each successive page they open, the risk of abandonment will only grow higher so in the end, the number of clients who successfully complete order will be only a fraction of the total number of visitors. If you are running an ad campaign this is especially problematic, as most of the money spent on getting people to your website will be wasted because they will leave in frustration before they buy anything. And even those who ended up shopping from you will probably remember the bad experience and are likely to never return.
It has been clear for a long time that Google uses page speed as a factor when determining Search Rankings. While the focus was mostly on desktop sites, recently they announced that page speed will be a factor in mobile searches as well. Besides good content and good links, website performance has become increasingly important when it comes to climbing towards the top of the rankings. If you haven’s focused on this yet, you should do so immediately because search engines value user experience and they love fast websites. And given the recent news, make sure your mobile site is fast as well, especially considering that currently there are more web users on mobile platforms than there are on desktop.
Additionally, page load time is also a factor used to determine your AdWords Quality Score meaning that if your pages are slow, your ads will be lower ranked and your cost per click will be higher.
How to optimize your website’s speed and keep it fast
- Regularly testing your website is extremely useful when it comes to quantifying performance and quickly identifying issues before they become serious problems. One of the most accurate and widely used tools for this is Google’s Page Speed Insights. Not only will it rate the performance for both the desktop and mobile versions of your website but it will also provide suggestions and advice about the areas in need of optimisation. While your business grows, inevitably you will have more products, richer content and additional modules in your online store. Make sure to upgrade to the latest version of PrestaShop as each version comes with a series of improvements. Additionally, after adding modules or making significant changes, make sure you test your site to ensure that any loss in performance does not outweigh the gain in functionality and features.
- We have previously written a list of 7 ways to speed up your Prestashop website which is still accurate and very useful. Follow the advice there and you will definitely see a great improvement of your site performance.
- Improve mobile speed using Google AMP! I already mentioned the increased importance of page speed on mobile devices and the best way to significantly increase performance is with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). This way, your mobile pages will be up to 7 times faster compared to the standard, responsive versions. At the same time, your results in Google searches will have the AMP label next to them, assuring the users that they’re about to access a fast and efficient website. And the best part: there is already a Google AMP module for PrestaShop which will create AMP pages for your products, categories, homepage, CMS and search results pages, taking any hassle out of this process and leaving you with more time to focus on marketing and improving your business.