Cost-Effective Ways to Boost the Speed of Your Magento 2 Website

Dariusz Sadkowski - Senior Magento Developer
3 minutes read

Top eCommerce brands invest millions into shaving off page load times to increase their site’s performance. But even the smallest eCommerce stores can apply these concepts at scale. That’s why we recently wrote ‘The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Magento 2 Speed’, which contains everything a Magento-powered store needs to improve web performance. And best of all, these strategies won’t break the bank.

Slow eCommerce stores are likely to drive away traffic, damage potential revenue, and hurt brand credibility. For most modern day customers, it doesn’t matter if they’re shopping on Amazon or a small boutique online store—they demand lightning-fast experiences on both desktop and mobile.

That’s why it’s crucial to optimize your Magento 2-powered store for speed. Our latest ebook covers a list of page load optimization strategies, and how to execute them with step by step instructions. To complement that free ebook, this article focuses on the most affordable ways to improve your store’s performance.

What is Web Performance, Anyway?

There are two ways to think about web performance.

One is the objective, technical measurements that show up on tests, from content delivery networks, page load speed tests, and benchmarking.

The other is the perceived user experience; how fast does your website feel and run to users. Can they see content immediately? Does scrolling feel smooth? Are images and animations playing correctly? These feelings are subjective, which makes ‘web performance’ a mixed bag of both technical optimization, and ensuring that customers feel the best possible experience.

Why Does Speed Matter So Much?

Anyone running a digital brand knows the general importance of having a website that loads ‘fast’. But what many don’t know is that most users’ patience ends at around 1-2 seconds of load time. Any further, and you’ll see significant bounce rates that grow at a rapid rate. By the 5-second mark, most users will have abandoned the site, never to return.

As if that wasn’t worrisome enough, low page load speeds will also lower results in search engine rankings, or perhaps repel users on mobile who expect even faster results on their smaller screens. In other words, your Magento 2 store’s performance is intrinsically tied to your potential revenues, search engine rankings, and how happy you make customers. This means it's crucial to invest in page load optimization, but it really doesn’t have to be a major financial commitment.

Here are the fastest ways to optimize your Magento 2 store that can add value without creating long time sinks and budget woes.

Cost-Effective Magento 2 Performance Tips

Use the correct operating mode

Using production mode is one of the easiest ways to speed up your store. There are four default modes in Magento 2: Default, Developer, Production and Maintenance modes. Production mode improves page load speeds because static view files are generated in advance and take full advantage of caching. Our Magento 2 ebook outlines the exact process for doing so. It’s as simple as running one simple command.

Leverage browser caching

Magento 2 does a great job of caching your site’s content by default, including images, JavaScript and CSS to be stored locally on a user’s browser. Enabling cache in Magento 2 takes only a few minutes, and the speed gains for returning users is unmatched. If you want to go the extra mile, consider the following strategies as well:

  • Deploy Varnish. Varnish is a free, open-source HTTP accelerator designed for content-heavy dynamic web sites as well as APIs. It works by caching (or storing) a copy of the website upon the user's first visit, returning stored pages that have already been visited while using the website. This has a tremendous effect on reducing server load, so that content never has to be generated again.
  • Use Redis for caching. Redis is a great choice for Magento 2 stores, as it enables a highly available, in-memory cache, that lowers latency, increases throughput, and eases the load off of your databases.

For specific instructions on deploying Redis or Varnish in your Magento 2 project, download our free ebook.

Optimize images

Many eCommerce brands think they need the best quality photos in their product store. Sometimes a high-resolution image can boost engagement, but these heavy images often lead to slowing down your site. There are several strategies to optimize images, and your eCommerce developer can suggest which one might be right for you.

  • Use WebP format with about 30% smaller file sizes without losing quality. Magento 2 add-ons can support WebP images, as Magento 2 does not support this format by default.
  • Adjust and scale for mobile vs. desktop. Smaller, lightweight images are great for mobile and responsive designs.
  • Automate image compression. For larger stores with multiple images per product, and large volumes, automating image compression offers incredible value with very little effort. For example, it only takes about one line of code in PHP to automatically resize, convert and compress in bulk.

The ebook mentioned above also covers situations where you have high demand and critical load moments, which can be solved by a lazy-loading - a strategy to identify resources and load critical content only when needed. With many small images and a lazy-loading tactic, stores can shorten their critical rendering path, which results in faster page load speeds.

Trim fonts and character counts

Every additional font used on your web page is another file that the end user must download, along with sub-styles associated with that font. Deleting unnecessary fonts means extra bytes of data that users don’t need to download. Automated tools like Font Squirrel can help which allows Magento 2 stores to reduce file sizes needed by eliminating characters, or entire font families, that may not need to be used. By applying these few rules, we can significantly reduce the amount of data that a potential customer has to download.

Work with a trusted eCommerce developer

If you’re under a tight budget, or simply want to run a one-off optimization project without hiring, or tying up your resources, an eCommerce developer partner is the most affordable way to manage Magento 2 speed optimization. For example, our projects include using Varnish, Redis, PHP7+, integrated CDNs and a ton of optimization practices that can improve a store in the span of weeks or months.

Get More Speed From Your Magento 2 Store

If you’re looking to optimize your Magento 2 store’s speed, these strategies are fast to implement and super cost-effective. By improving image optimization, optimizing fonts, setting up proper caching, and applying lazy loading, you can ensure your site performs well across all devices. But that’s just the starting point. There are even more ways to improve speed, such as picking the best content delivery networks, or upgrading your hosting to serve your needs better.

Hopefully the result is higher performance that improves the user experience for all your digital channels. Need help improving your Magento-driven site performance or want the support of Magento-only eCommerce developers? You can learn more about Polcode’s award-winning Magento eCommerce software development services and get a free head-start consultation.

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