WooCommerce is incredibly easy to use, but achieving reliably fast performance isn’t always as simple. Slowdowns in your online store can have a significant impact on sales and make it harder for you to grow your business by increasing the bounce rate.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most powerful ways to speed up WooCommerce, improve your websites performance and optimize the overall user experience. While an optimized site won’t make any sales on its own, it will help you maximize the average length of each visit and move more leads through your sales funnel.
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Images are a crucial element of any website in 2021, but large image files can increase loading times and make your site less responsive. Furthermore, search engines will downgrade your rankings if they link your site to long load times. Fortunately, a variety of WooCommerce plugins offer convenient image compression along with other performance-enhancing tools.
With lossless compression, you can reduce the size of each image without having any effect on quality. This is one of the simplest ways to avoid performance issues on your WooCommerce site and make it load as quickly as possible. Compression is particularly important for image-heavy sites and sites with large databases.
Use Lazy Loading
Lazy loading is an innovative solution that improves loading speeds by prioritizing elements that are above the fold—in other words, that display immediately after loading rather than requiring a user to scroll down. With lazy loading, those elements will load first, while elements further down the page will only load after the visitor scrolls down far enough to reach them.
It might seem like a small adjustment, but lazy loading is an excellent way to give users a quick first impression by only loading the elements that are going to appear on their initial visit. Like image compression, you can get started with lazy loading using any number of dedicated WooCommerce plugins.
Some image compression plugins also offer built-in lazy loading for even more convenient access. These and other powerful integrations can be added to your WooCommerce toolkit to help you improve various aspects of your site.
Switch Hosting Providers
Your hosting provider is responsible for making your site available online, and they play a major role in determining loading times. With a poor hosting arrangement, your speeds could vary dramatically over time, making your site less reliable for users. That’s especially true for shared hosting arrangements, which divide server resources among multiple users.
With that being said, shared hosting is still a good option for smaller sites that are still in the early stages of growth. Shared hosting plans tend to be extremely affordable, and you can get decent performance from the right provider. You can get shared hosting for top providers for as little as a few dollars per month.
Virtual private server (VPS) hosting is a common upgrade from typical shared hosting arrangements. While VPS hosting plans still give multiple users access to the same physical server, they separate that server into multiple virtualized instances. This allows them to allocate resources for each individual user instead of having them share a common pool. It also gives users more control over their configuration compared to what’s available with shared hosting.
Dedicated hosting goes a step further by giving you exclusive access to your physical server. Unsurprisingly, dedicated hosting is usually far more expensive than comparable shared and VPS hosting plans. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars per month on dedicated hosting, but that may be a worthwhile investment for sites that receive large volumes of traffic or users who want full control over their hosting setup. Ultimately, the right hosting arrangement for you comes down to your budget and the needs of your site.
Cache Site Resources
Caching involves storing a copy of your site’s resources for immediate access when a user visits the website. While some dynamic elements will need to be loaded again for new visits, caching can substantially decrease loading times for static elements by processing less information during each visit. In fact, cached websites often appear to load almost immediately, particularly on pages with little to no dynamic content.
Dedicated caching plugins like WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache, and Comet Cache make it easy to cache your site and manage other optimization settings. Caching doesn’t require any technical work on your end—just set up your new plugin and watch your loading times go down. Image optimization, lazy loading, and site caching are great tools to start with if you’re new to WooCommerce plugins.
Leverage a Content Delivery Network
If your audience is distributed over a large geographical area, you may have trouble increasing loading speeds for all users. If your site is hosted in the western US, for example, a European visitor might spend more time waiting than someone located near to your servers.
Content delivery networks help websites offer better loading times around the world by caching site elements on a global network of servers. When a user visits your site, your content delivery network will automatically load the relevant content from the server with the best connection. Without a content delivery network, you will likely notice much more variance in performance depending on a user’s location.
A few of the most popular content delivery networks include Cloudways, KeyCDN, Cloudflare, Sucuri, StackPath, MaxCDN, and Amazon CloudFront. Cloudflare and some other providers offer free access to a basic set of features, so you can always start there and upgrade later on if necessary.
Free Cloudflare users don’t get 24/7 support, image compression, web application firewalls, or other advanced tools, but they can still use the content delivery network and protect their site from DDoS attacks. A reliable content delivery network is one of the best investments you can make to your website.
Clean Up Your Plugins
If you’re serious about making your site faster, you could end up using numerous plugins to optimize every area of your online store. In addition to optimization, other plugins offer a wide range of functions and features that can make your site far more customizable and introduce powerful ecommerce tools that aren’t available with vanilla WooCommerce.
Unfortunately, plugins themselves can add to your site’s load and bog down performance over time. If you notice longer loading times or any other issues, take a look at the plugins you’ve installed and remove any that you’re no longer using. You should also make sure to avoid using multiple plugins when you could achieve the same result with just one. For example, you might install an image optimization plugin and later install a lazy loading plugin that also offers image compression.
Keep in mind that bulky themes can have a similar effect on performance. When looking for a new theme, test at least a few options to see if there’s a noticeable change in speed. Finally, don’t forget to regularly update any third-party software in order to keep your site fast and secure.
Speed Up WooCommerce Summary
Optimizing your WooCommerce store might sound complicated, but contemporary plugins can speed up your site in a few simple steps. These tips will help you increase load speeds and keep your store’s bounce rate as low as possible. Most users will leave a site after just three seconds of loading, so even a small improvement in loading time will have a substantial impact on your traffic and sales.
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