Speed up for sales!

Developing a user-friendly look for an online store is important. But what is often overlooked are loading times. It may seem an exaggeration to say even a one second delay can impact online sales – but it isn’t and it does. Consumers are not going to forgive repeated delays when trying to navigate a website. But there are ways to optimise the speed; delivering a customer service most consumers take as a given.

A straightforward way to increase a website's speed is by reducing page size (this can be found by saving the page to your computer as a web archive folder – target is three seconds or less). Measured in kilobytes – a page typically incorporates three things: CSS, JavaScript and imagery. Avoid embedding big objects or imagery where possible. But if necessary: remember to specify height and image (this allows the browser to create a placeholder). To not include the dimensions of an image will force a browser to load the entirety of it before beginning another task.

If your business caters to a worldwide audience, implementing a content delivery network will noticeably improve load times. It works by caching content on servers according to the consumer’s location. If a consumer opened the homepage from New York, it would load from a server in USA opposed to the master server.

Caching information will avoid having to access a database unnecessarily by temporarily storing the memory of a full e-commerce product catalogue, customer information, site-search index. This method uses the server’s RAM and stores data in it. A final approach would be to periodically change the size of the hosting server to meet traffic requirements (email alerts for when thresholds are exceeded could prompt you to resize your server automatically).

Remember to regularly check your website speed to diagnose and resolve issues before they impact user experience. Some helpful tools to do this would be Google’s PageSpeed Insight or Yahoo’s YSlow (a score of 85 and/or higher shows good performance). These tests can be automated by using GTMetrix.