5 Ways to Speed Up Magento: Part 2

News 5 Ways to Speed Up Magento: Part 2

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In our blog last week we gave a very brief run-down of the open source content management system, Magento, a popular web platform for e-commerce sites. Within the article, we also listed 5 ways to speed up Magento site, which were particularly good places to start if you weren’t overly familiar with the web design process.

Make sure you check through these first five steps, which included database management, image optimisation, and regular testing, before moving on to our next five tips, which you will find below.

1. Enable GZIP Compression
Whenever a customer accesses a certain page on your site, their browser (Chrome, Firefox, however they view the web) sends a request to your server (where your e-commerce site is hosted) telling it that they want to download the information stored there. It’s often the case, however, particularly on Magento web-sites, that these pages are overly large, and thus take a long time to download.

A good way to work around this is to Zip the files, which basically means compressing them, so that their initial download size is much smaller. The browser will then ‘unzip’ the file at the customer’s end, in a process that takes a lot less time than transporting large HTML files (or webpages).

Enabling this function on your Magento site is a simple matter of manipulating the code behind it. When you first set up your e-commerce site, Magento will include the code that allows GZIP compression, but it won’t automatically be enabled. To change this, you need to change the .htaccess file in the backend of your Magento system. Once you’ve accessed this, you simply need to remove the ‘#’ symbol, from all the lines that being with ‘Browsermatch’, ‘SetOutputFilter’ and ‘SetEnvIfNoCase’.

We know that this can sound very complicated, so you’re not very confident, one of our web-design team will be happy to help.

2. Enable Apache Keepalives
Apache is the world’s most popular web-server software, and is used by the majority of Magento e-commerce sites. Again, however, improperly managed settings behind the scenes can lead to a lot of issues when consumers are visiting your site.

When a customer accesses your site, they initiate something called a TCP or Transmission Control Protocol session, which you don’t need to worry about right now. The bottom line is that when you use an Apache server, these sessions will be automatically terminated by default. By enabling Apache keepalives, you will instruct your server not to terminate and restart this connection every time the browser wants to download something new.

To implement this, simply add ‘KeepAlive On’ to your Apache configuration file. You should start to notice an improvement in your site’s speed soon after adding this.

3. Merge CSS Files
Cascading Style Sheet or CSS files basically make sure that your website displays information in the right format, but as is often the case, transferring them can greatly affect your Magento site’s performance.

Merging these files is one of the easiest ways to speed up Magento, and now, because of a recent update, you can do it through the internal settings. By entering into your site’s ‘Configuration’ settings, then choosing ‘Advanced’ options and then the ‘Developer’ tab, you will be given options to merge CSS and Javascript files. By enabling these settings, you should see an immediate boost in your e-commerce site’s performance and speed.

4. Enable Flat Data Categories
Initially when you set up your Magento database, which lists all of your products with their respective attributes (such as size, price etc.) the files in which these tables are created are often very large. As you will know by now, the larger the file, the longer the download time, so once again you need to compress these files to speed up your Magento site.

Once again this is done easily through the settings of your Magento e-commerce site. Simply go to ‘System’ then ‘Configuration’ and finally to ‘Catalog’ to access your database management settings. Once you have accessed this page change the relevant options to ‘Yes’ to compress the tables and therefore enhance your site’s performance.

5. Keep Your Magento Site Up-to-date
It might seem like a very obvious point to finish on, but you’d be surprised by the amount of e-commerce businesses out there that run on older versions of Magento. By keeping up to date with the latest versions released, you will automatically receive the fastest operating system possible. In addition to this you will also see a dramatic reduction in bugs, which can cause problems in the front-end of your site and affect your users’ experience.

The tips listed this week are a little more complicated, and might prove confusing if you don’t have a lot of web-design experience. If you do manage to implement them though, you will notice a marked improvement in the speed and fluidity of your e-commerce site. As we said last time, the importance of testing cannot be stressed enough! So keep tweaking and keep testing, and eventually you’ll come up with the right formula for a speedy Magento website.

Take a look at our previous work. Explore our team and agency. Learn from our latest insights. Get in touch to begin your journey with us!