We need hardly mention that solid website performance is critical for ecommerce companies – they can’t afford losing customers because of delays in page responses. Rather than giving general optimization tips in our article, we narrow our intent down to researching ready-made solutions for performance optimization. We find our contribution more valuable if focus on a specific platform. Given our vast expertise in Magento, the choice of the platform focus for the piece is well-argued.
To achieve high performance of ecommerce websites, online retailers should have a clear understanding of general rules of performance optimization. Along with that, they should consider the platform in use since the platform’s community may have ready-made solutions, which will allow saving on development efforts.
As our experience lies mostly with Magento, we are talking specifically about Magento performance optimization. Not only do we offer a comprehensive action plan for retailers experiencing serious speed issues but want to guide them across the Magento Marketplace and put them on to opportunities on sale. We don’t aim to promote particular off-the-shelf plugins, rather unveil optimization techniques they can help with.
A solution to automate cache refreshing
In terms of performance optimization, Magento offers a way to decrease the time of server response – Full Page Cache. Instead of generating a page over and over again at each browser request, this technique allows for storing a previous server response as a page snapshot and processing subsequent browser requests faster. There are two important points to mind here:
- Cache needs to be refreshed after any changes have been made to a page.
- The first visitor to an updated or newly created page always goes through “cold” cache when the server generates page files and retains the page in cache. All visitors coming next get the page delivered from the cache (read, much quicker).
However, a typical web store is always dynamic – new products are added to the catalog, customers leave product reviews, and promotional campaigns follow one after another. Depending on how much cache is being refreshed, it may take up to several minutes for the changes to appear on the website. And a case of unrefreshed cache can lead to disappointment when customers see outdated information.
The Full Page Cache Warmer extension by Amasty optimizes the caching process in Magento 2 web stores. As its name suggests, the extension addresses the inconvenience of “cold” cache by automatically warming it. In simple words, a website imitates the first visitor to a page, the server saves the cache and all real visitors get equally good experience. A web store admin can generate a cache warming queue and prioritize what pages are critical to warm up first. With the Full Page Cache Warmer solution, retailers also get a possibility to enable an auto-update cache option so that the system automatically refreshes cache for updated pages.
A solution to optimize images
Large-sized images often result in slow loading speed. Given that a typical web store has rich imagery, retailers need a simple-to-use tool to optimize pictures in bulk.
There is a number of image optimization plugins on the Magento Marketplace so retailers may examine available options against their budget and requirements. For illustrative purposes, here’s a more detailed description to the WebP Optimized Images extension by JaJuMa GmbH. The solution allows transforming pictures from standard .jpg and .png formats into .webp format developed by Google without losing high imagery quality. For conversion, it offers retailers to choose between the three tools – cwebp, GD and Imagemagick. Most browsers (including Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera) support .webp format. When a store’s visitors use a browser without .webp support, the extension automatically delivers .jpg or .png counterparts.
A solution to load long-scrolling pages speedily
By default, when a user opens a web page, its content together with all images loads in a single go. But there are page types in a web store where such an approach turns out to be detrimental for website performance. Thus, loading a product listing page as a whole may take ages (here, every second counts) and scare off potential customers.
The idea of lazy loading comes to rescue and here is a relevant solution – Lazy Load extension by BSS Commerce. An alternative to bulk loading of the entire web page, it offers to postpone loading images until they are in (or nearly in) the browser’s viewport. Upon installation, retailers can choose what pages will feature lazy loading and set a threshold for images to appear on a web page. As a result, the content is loaded gradually as a user is scrolling down the page.
A solution to perform budget-friendly mobile optimization
Companies that can’t afford investing in a standalone mobile app or a mobile website version thus far may achieve fast and satisfying mobile experience by converting web store pages into a simplified format for fast loading on mobile. This is exactly what the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) extension by Plumrocket Inc. provides.
A Magento extension as a go-to solution in performance optimization
Initiating Magento performance optimization, retailers can’t do without a professional Magento support team since determining and addressing a speed issue is required. But further on, they can turn to ready-made extensions available on the Magento Marketplace to organize some aspects of the optimization process effectively and with minimal costs. For example, there are simple off-the-shelf ways for retailers to optimize images, warm up and automate cache refreshing, set lazy loading and convert web pages into a mobile-friendly format. All these are small puzzle pieces of one bigger picture of Magento solid performance.
Tanya Yablonskaya is Ecommerce Industry Analyst at ScienceSoft, an IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. After 2+ years of exploring the cryptocurrency and blockchain sphere, she has shifted the focus of interest to ecommerce industry. Delving into this enormous world, Tanya covers key challenges online retailers face and unveils a wealth of tools they can use to outpace competitors.