E-commerce site speed: A UX and SEO issue!
It’s a fact: a better user experience results in more frequent return customers. That’s why your site’s loading speed is so important. In fact, improving site speed should be a critical part of your strategy for two important reasons. First, because user patience seems to grow shorter all the time. Second, because Google’s web crawler considers display speed a key indicator of a website’s performance. In other words, your site needs to please humans and bots!
Perceived performance vs. actual performance
There are a lot of factors that influence page loading speeds. If your site seems to need a jump-start, the possible culprits include sub-optimal database queries, insufficient caching, unused imports, or excessively large images or resources.
The good news is that some issues can be resolved relatively quickly, resulting in speed gains. We’ve divided them into two categories: perceived performance issues (noticeable to users) and actual performance issues (noticeable to Google bots).
How do you improve perceived performance issues?
Your site’s perceived performance is essentially what users see. There are different things you can do to improve page loading speeds—or at least make it seem like they’re loading more quickly! Since e-commerce sites contain a lot more data than static websites, there are tricks to keep users engaged while substantial loading is happening in the background.
- CSS shimmer effect: This involves adding a shimmer effect to all your mobile application views. It’s useful as a discreet loading indicator and prevents the page from recalculating when the element is loaded.
- LazyLoad: This lightweight, flexible script is a popular choice that can speed up e-comm sites by deferring the loading of your below-the-fold images, backgrounds, videos, iframes and scripts to when they enter the viewport. It’s ideal for cases where users access network content and you want to keep initialization times to a minimum—such as for product pages.
- Pagination to display products: This strategy is often used for e-commerce sites. It involves setting up a pagination system in order to only load a pre-determined number of products at a time, thereby limiting loading times.
How do you improve actual performance issues?
Googlebot visits your site regularly to measure its performance so that it can be properly referenced. After scanning your site, the indexing robot gives it a score based on several criteria, which include the site’s importance, the relevance of the content, the display speed, and more. It tests things like image format, data processing and data from the back-end to the front-end. So if you want to optimize your site’s referencing, you need to:
- Choose the right host for your site’s needs
- Optimize and compress images and videos
- Compress CSS files
- Limit redirects
Think mobile and PWA
According to Google, more than 50% of users will leave a mobile site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Each second of delay can reduce your conversion rate by up to 20%. Conversely, faster loading has a direct, positive impact on conversion. Google indicates that a 0.1 second improvement in mobile site speed increases conversion by 8.4% for retailers and 10.1% for travel sites.
Have you considered PWA technology? A progressive web app (PWA) can dramatically improve your website’s speed and performance. For more information on this, check out our white paper: PWA + E-Commerce = The winning formula.
Improving your website’s speed is sure to increase user satisfaction and drive sales. If users are able to navigate your site quickly and easily, they’ll stay longer and come back more often! In terms of actual performance, having a fast and efficient site leads to better referencing on search engines, which translates into more traffic overall.
But before you invest time and money to improve your site’s speed, be sure to explore the different quick fixes, including image formats, caching, back-end to front-end calls and server type (PWA)!