5 Ways to Speed Up Magento: Part 1

News 5 Ways to Speed Up Magento: Part 1

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Studies indicate that one-third of the top 30 e-commerce websites utilise Magento code, so if you’re in the business of online retail, the chances are that you’ll use the system. Currently owned by eBay, Magento is an open-source content management system that provides a platform for businesses to set up and easily customise their e-commerce site.

It’s a common complaint however that Magento sites tend to run quite slowly if not properly maintained. A slow site carries with it two potentially disastrous side effects:

1) Consumers that visit the e-commerce site will be less like to convert if navigating around it is slow or arduous, and involves waiting around for pages to buffer.

2) Google tracking software will respond negatively to sites that take longer to load, as excessive waiting times lead to a poor user experience. Hence a faster site means a higher potential ranking, and more organic traffic. So as you can see, having a speedy up Magento site is definitely a good thing, but speeding it up can be a difficult task, especially if you’re not well versed in web-design.

1. Clean Up Your Database
It might seem like a very obvious point to start with, but keeping an up-to-date and well-organised database is probably the simplest method of speeding up your Magento site. A lot of e-commerce sites have extensive backdated product lists that they have no intention of ever restocking. Whilst it is good to show the breadth of what your business can offer, this can lead to an overly large and therefore lifeless database. By removing old products from your site’s database, you will see a noticeable improvement in speed and performance.

2. Optimise Your Images
Whilst having a lot of attractive imagery is possibly the best way to market your products online, using large files on your site can greatly reduce your Magento site’s performance. This is because transferring big files from the web server (where your site is hosted) to the browser (where people are viewing it) takes up a large amount of bandwidth.
By using an image compression tool, such as JPEG Optimizer or Image Optim, you can actually reduce the size of the image files, and in turn speed up your Magento site’s performance.

3. Minify Your Source Code
Minifying your source code basically means removing all unnecessary characters from it, and therefore reducing the amount of data that needs to be transferred between server and browser. Pages are normally written in JavaScript or CSS, and by eliminating any excessive characters found within this code, you will reduce your e-commerce site’s download time.
As with image optimisation, there are many tools on the internet, such as jsmini.com and refresh-sf.com, which will help you do this.

4. Manage Your Cache
Caching is a process often used on websites that involves temporarily storing web documents online in order to reduce bandwidth consumption. Having an improperly managed Magento cache however can actually reduce your site’s performance, so you should always strive to keep on top of it.

By accessing your Magento site’s Cache Storage Management page, you can enable various programmes that will help make the caching process more efficient. Through Magento’s store you will find a wide variety of free and paid plug-ins to manage the caching process for you. Take time to explore these packages, and don’t be reluctant to invest in the more expensive ones, as reaching the right combination will drastically improve your e-commerce site’s performance.

5. Run Tests on Your Site
Now that we have covered some initial points on how to speed up your Magento site, it’s a very good time to run a speed test on it.

These services, offered by sites such as magespeedtest.com and e-comus.co.uk, are an invaluable resource in developing your e-commerce site. The best speed testing websites offer you the chance to customise your test, changing the length of time it takes, and the volume of visitors it emulates. This means that if you’re preparing for a seasonal rush of customers, for example, you will have a much better idea of how your Magento site can cope.

I’d actually recommend performing a test before and after implementing the above changes, in order to see how effective they have been.

The above five steps will definitely lead to a noticeably quicker Magento site, but I can’t emphasize enough the need for regular and thorough testing, otherwise you won’t be able to work out what works, and what doesn’t.

Check back to this blog next week for five, more in-depth, tips on how to speed up Magento websites and systems.

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