Article

Paul Okhrem
Paul Okhrem 26 May 2022
Categories Ecommerce, Technology

Top Seven Tips to Make Your Magento Website Speed Blazing Fast

Magento 2 website performance has always been a big concern for retailers. Studies show that each additional second of load time can make ecommerce conversion rates drop by 4.42%. And low conversion on high consumer-intent pages, like checkout or home, will surely harm your potential earnings. How do you tackle the issue and speed up your Magento store? Follow the seven tips below.

Before we proceed to the specific steps, I would like to mention that all performance-related issues usually take place on two levels: infrastructure (hosting, CDN, etc.) and application (front-end and back-end). The recommendations you will find in this article will apply to both to achieve the most effective performance improvements. 

Tip #1: Upgrade to Magento 2 if You’re Still Running Magento 1

Adobe ended support for Magento 1 in June 2020, but hundreds of companies still use it. If you’re one of them, consider this message as a call to migrate ASAP. Among the many advantages of Magento 2 (now known as Adobe Commerce), performance is the biggest one outperforming its obsolete counterpart across many use cases:

  • Magento 2 processes 39% more orders per hour, reaching up to 2,558 orders per hour
  • It delivers nearly instant response times for catalog pages (<2 sec)
  • It enables up to 66% faster add-to-cart server response times that are under 500 milliseconds
  • It provides 51% faster guest checkout response times and 36% faster customer checkout response times for all checkout steps combined

Besides, the latest and newest Magento 2.4.x version is even faster thanks to significant improvements in storefront page response time, quicker image loading times, as well as improved caching and add-to-cart performance.

Tip #2: Change Your Hosting Provider

Much of the performance depends on the ability of your server to sustain a great number of users without slowing down or keeling over at peak hours. Forget about shared hosting for your Magento store. Your hosting plan should include at least solid-state (SSD) hard drives and at least 4GB of RAM. The exact system requirements will vary depending on your store. 

I always recommend my Magento clients to host their websites on AWS which is both affordable and powerful. It provides a stable environment allowing you to deliver top-notch website performance while scaling up your business operations, users, and orders.

Tip #3: Implement a Viable Caching Strategy (or Optimize the Existing One)

A cache is a way to pre-load your web pages for fast content delivery. Essentially, it stores all page elements, like text and images, so that the user doesn’t have to request files from the server every time they visit your website.

Caching comes particularly handy when you have a product with many attributes that take too long to load. Magento 2 enables full-page caching out-of-the-box, but you can further increase its flow using advanced caching technologies like Varnish and Redis. 

Varnish will store (or cache) files or fragments of files in memory and will eventually reduce the response time and network bandwidth consumption on future, equivalent requests. It sits between the web server and Magento database, and proxies all users’ HTTP requests to reduce response times to return the content to users.

Redis will act as a default cache for storing frequently asked queries, keys, and user sessions. It replaces Magento's standard file-based caching system and will add extra speed to your website.

While Varnish focuses on frontend caching, Redis may store other data structures like the EAV and Configuration caches. That’s why I recommend using them in tandem.

Tip #4: Consider Adding a CDN

A CDN stands for content delivery network. They have geographically distributed servers worldwide, so users can download data from servers that are closest to them. CDNs can deliver any type of content, including images, media, CSS/JS files, themes, and modules and might act as an overall site optimizer.

Magento comes pre-configured to support CDNs, although you should have some technical expertise to set it up. It is not absolutely necessary, especially for the small-scale businesses with little traffic unable to invest in the tech solution and its implementation.

However, it is a must-have for heavy-traffic, mission-critical websites that are serious about providing the best user experience. My personal recommendations are Akamai, Cloudflare, and Amazon Cloudfront.

Tip #5: Conduct a Website Audit

If an ecommerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year. That lag is caused by performance bottlenecks.

There are so many things causing bottlenecks, like the number of server requests, page weight, lazy page elements, lazy image loading, third-party extensions, and poorly written or unoptimized code. An audit identifies these technical issues in the back-end and the front-end, solves them, and then shows the performance after modifications.

Some of the most common Magento performance bottlenecks may include:

  • Leaving the core unused modules enabled (e.g., offline shipment and payments; Captcha, Persistent, RSS; MSRP, Send Friend, Weee, etc.).
  • Piling up unnecessary features, like plugins and layout elements.
  • Failure to adhere to the coding standards and best practices.

Even adding a few website features can make your website performance go downhill. Conduct a regular Magento code audit to ensure your store doesn’t get cluttered with bugs and bottlenecks. 

Tip #6: Follow the Magento Performance Best Practices

This might be the most obvious tip, but it works most of the time. Magento Performance Best Practices is an invaluable guide brought to you by Adobe itself on how to configure your store in the most efficient way.

The guide includes quite a few insights, but here are the key speed boosters:

  • Turn on all the caches from the System > Tools > Cache Management page. Better yet, connect the Varnish cache that we’ve discussed above.
  • Enable asynchronous email notifications
  • Use third-party tools like Magento speed optimization extensions for minification and JS bundling (like r.js). 
  • Activate the HTTP2 protocol as an alternative to using JS bundling. 
  • Do not use deprecated settings like merging JS and CSS files as they were designed only for synchronously-loaded JS in the HEAD section of the page. Using this technique can cause bundling and require JS logic to work incorrectly.

Some might view these recommendations as too technical, so you’d better have some technical background or use the help of someone with prior experience in Magento.

Tip #7: Run a Stress Test

A stress test is an important step in improving scalability and ensuring that your store can handle the peak loads during flash sales. During a stress test, you push the site to its breaking point by incrementally increasing the load above the expected maximum.

First, you need to generate sample data for performance testing. Magento allows you to create more users, stores, categories, products, and so on and set profiles (small, medium, large, and extra-large). Refer to the official Magento documentation for more info.

Second, you set the pre-test environment using the tool of your choice. It’s important to take the user journeys you mapped out in the preparation stage and input them into the performance testing tool to create a workload model.

Third, you clone the existing Magento database, ensure all the tools are working properly, and run the performance test. You can later analyze the results, create reports, and identify the bottlenecks to be addressed.

I know it seems easier said than done, but this last tip should be of great help for large-scale merchants. Stress-test your Magento website to ensure it can handle the high volumes of traffic and scale no matter the number of users and products.

One final note for the conclusion: online shoppers have never been patient enough to wait longer than 3 seconds for a product page to load. It is up to you to take measures, allocate the budget for performance optimization, and impress your customers with an optimal user experience.

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