Majority of store owners wants their online store to have as many functions as possible. They prefer themes that are eye-catching to grab customers’ attention. Besides, store owners also want to sell a variety of items to generate revenues. To do so, they need to install various apps for each product. However, while doing so, they are all encountering a common problem: slow site performance.
As sites have more features, it is really hard for them to achieve a high level of performance. Your web is visually appealing. It has various functions, apps and features. However, the site performance is bad, leading to a low conversion rate and awful user experience.
To increase sales and keep your customers stay longer, optimising site performance is a necessary task. Since web performance optimisation can cause you lots of money to hire experts or third-parties, free tools might help you to save costs. What are the free necessary tools that allow you to optimise your site performance? Let’s explore more with HappyPoints!
1. How important is site performance
Since the performance of your site is related directly to the user experience, optimising it is really important. As customers hate waiting too long for a site to load, they tend to exit the website without hesitation. This will lead to an increased bounce rate for your site. Besides, good site performance can also help to increase sales. Because the customers will abandon the shopping cart immediately if the transaction process is too slow, the conversion rate and the revenue will be reduced significantly. If store owners want to check how site performance affects their revenue, they can check out Google’s Testmysite tool. This tool is especially useful for mobile site speed test.
2. Free tools for speed optimisation.
You will be able to find a variety of speed checking tools on the internet. However, there are only 3 primary and necessary tools for you to check site performance successfully.
This is the most popular tool for checking site performance. Google’s PageSpeed Insights provides the information related to your web speed, both on the desktop and mobile devices. It gives you the score for your web performance and provides several recommendations to improve the site speed. When users require analysis on one website, PageSpeed Insights will give them different index related to the performance of that website. In order to find out more about this tool as well as the important indexes in speed optimisation, you can refer to this blog provided by HappyPoints.
This is another free and popular tool for store owners to explore more. There are more than 450 million pages that have been analyzed by GTMetrix. If you want to know how fast is your website, this tool really comes in handy. Besides analyzing, it helps you to optimise your site speed for free. This tool can also get your web’s page load time, total page size and total requests. You can test your page in different countries, browsers, connection speeds and so much more.
If you wonder why your site speed is slow, don’t worry. GTmetrix will give you a detailed report of your site’s performance score and suggestions to improve it. In addition, it will allow you to see how well is your site performance, compared to the average of all sites analyzed on GTMetrix. The monitor pages function can ensure optimal performance and keep track of how it is doing by running a test daily, weekly or monthly. When your site is slow, it also provides notifications and alerts so you can know what happened and come up with solutions as soon as possible.
This is another tool for you to check your site performance. By using WebPageTest, you will be able to run various tests ranging from simple ones to advanced testing including multi-step transactions, video capture, content blocking and much more. It also provides useful diagnostic data illustrated by waterfall charts, Page Speed optimization checks and recommendations on how to improve it.
Free tools for optimising images
Images on a website affect the site performance significantly. The more high-quality pictures included on a page, the slower the page speed. Therefore, it is a necessary job for store owners to optimise images in order to boost the loading speed. There are several free tools for them to accomplish this task.
This is one of the most popular tools for compressing and resizing pictures. It uses smart lossy compression technique to shrink the size of your pictures effectively. This tool can help you to decrease the number of colours in the image to reduce the bytes required to store the data. Although its name is TinyPNG, it allows both PNG and JPEG formats for compression. Using this tool can be time-saving by letting you compress 20 images at a time. After you finish compressing photos, you can save them immediately to your computer or save them for later use in Dropbox. The effect may not be highly visible but it can make a huge difference.
This tool allows you to compress 20 photos simultaneously with the lowest file size. Optimizilla helps to reduce the size of images by using the combination of the optimal optimisation and lossy compression algorithms to decrease both JPEG and PNG pictures. It still retains the quality required of the images. You can see the before and after versions to get a more lively view of the photos’ quality after compression.
This tool supports not only JPEG and PNG images, but also GIF and PDF. Besides compressing images with impressive results, it also helps to analyze your website and provide you with a report for later reference. ImageRecyle has WordPress plugin, Shopify app, and Magento extension in order for you to get access to this tool easily without going to their website every time. Your images on mobile and tablet devices will also be optimised using ImageRecycle. It helps to reduce the image size, not the quality.
3. Fast themes
This is a fast theme with google score of 81, which is pretty good for a website. The main features of this theme are header slideshow, which displays various product and brand pictures at the top of your homepage. Besides, the parallax header function allows an animated depth effect as the users scroll down the page. The customers can sort out their preferred products easily by filtering items by type, price and best sellers. This theme also supports SEO as well as free theme updates.
This theme has a google score of 80, which is another fast theme for your store. There are many theme features included in this theme. It has a multi-level drop-down menu for customers to navigate around on your site easily. In addition, there will be multiple products and promotions displayed in a grid-style layout throughout your store. It also displays your blog posts, images and advertisements in the sidebar of your store’s home page and blog page. Based on the customer reviews of this theme, the customer service is really satisfactory, with timely responses and helpful supporters.
The google score for this theme is 81, which can deliver good user experience. It can help to optimise large images on your website to increase the site performance. Versatile sidebar area includes menus, a search bar, customer logins and other content in your store’s sidebar. Besides, the customers can easily zoom-in, zoom-out the product images for a more comprehensive view of the items. It also has an image gallery for you to promote a single product.
In addition to using the fast theme, store owners need to update their theme regularly. The updated version should include fixed bugs and new features. You can explore more on updating theme by referring to Shopify’s instructions here.
4. Reduce HTTP requests
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Basically, it is the name for a browser sending a request for a file, and the server sending that file to the browser. Every time customers visit your website, the browser has to make a separate HTTP request for each different file needed. If your site has only a few files, it won’t take long to request and download the files. However, as store owners want to include as many pictures and features as possible, there are a lot of HTTP requests that they need to reduce.
Firstly, check how many HTTP requests are currently on your site is a necessary task. In order to do so, you can use Chrome’s Developer Tool if you are a Chrome user. At the first step, right-click a random page on your website and choose “Inspect” to check that page. Then, choose the “Network” tab. This category will show your web page’s real-time network activity.
This tool provides many useful data related to your web page, including the type and size of your images. The time column indicates how long does it take for each file to load. If you want to check the number of HTTP requests, it is shown in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen. You can see “3 requests” at this position. It is the number of HTTP requests on your web page.
Besides, optimise the images from your website will also help to reduce the number of HTTP requests. Free tools for image optimisation have already been listed for you in this article.
Another necessary task is to limit the number of social buttons. The button images can add any additional HTTP requests on your website. Since the buttons are still indispensable and cannot be removed, you can replace the images with Base64 code by Base64 Encoder. Base64 is a string encoding algorithm by replacing the characters in the common 8-bit ASCII charset into a 6-bit charset. Base64 is commonly used in email encryption and transmission. However, Base64 is now more widely used to encode multimedia files (images, audio, video, etc.) applied to the transmission of images on websites.
5. Minimize redirects and broken links
Redundant redirects can affect your site performance negatively. For Shopify store owners, you can use 301 redirects by the built-in redirects function called “URL redirect”.
For more detailed instructions, you can explore more at help.shopify.com
For broken links
As dead and broken links are really harmful to your site, find and fix those links are a crucial task. There are several free tools for finding and fixing the broken links.
This tool is one of many tools that SmallSEOTools provides. It is very convenient for you to find broken links that influence your site performance badly. Only by entering the URL of your website can you check the dead links easily. This broken link checker will locate any broken link on your website so that you can find a way to fix it as soon as possible. It is also user-friendly and easy to use. This tool is especially useful for finding broken links, but you still need to fix it manually from the administrator dashboard.
As the name implies, Broken Link Checker is a plugin for WordPress that tells you which links are causing the error 404. This is very important because your site can be penalized by large search engines if it has too many errors and broken links.
Once installed, this plugin will monitor your site and provide reports in your WordPress dashboard. There, you can edit the link, or ignore the message. It may take some time to run the test (especially when your website is large) for the first time, but you can leave it and review it later in the dashboard.
Broken Link Checker plugin features:
+ Automatically find broken and dead links, missing images and redirects.
+ Notify you of broken links via the control panel or via email.
+ Prevent the search engine from broken links.
+ Broken links can be edited directly from the Broken Link Checker plugin’s control panel.
+ You can search and filter those links by URL, anchor text.
The last words
HappyPoints has just introduced to you free necessary tools to optimise your site performance. However, using free tools might not allow you to solve the problems related to your site speed comprehensively. Therefore, you should seek advice from experts and professional people. HappyPoints is happy to help you as we provide speed optimisation service, and it is a free one. You can subscribe to this service now in order to be supported by our experts!