When It Comes To Selling Parts Online, Site Performance Is Crucial

Racers love the expression “speed is life.” It’s a mantra, a simple phrase that reminds every driver that going faster is the key to accomplishing his or her goals.

Speed is life, both in racing and in ecommerce.

When it comes to ecommerce, website speed is crucial to your success. A volume of data offered by KissmetricsStrangeloop, the Aberdeen Group, and others shows that site speed and sales are closely related. You can look at each of the articles I’ve just linked to, or you can take my word for it: website speed is crucial to ecommerce success.

Here’s what you can do to improve site speed:

1. Measure your site’s performance. You can use a variety of tools to measure site performance, but the best tools IMHO are:

  • Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool, which will give you a simple checklist of items your developer can address
  • The “Site Speed Overview” report, which is available in Google Analytics

Everyone knows that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So, start by measuring your site’s speed right now.

2. Make sure your developer is paying attention. Most web developers know how to combine and minify CSS and JS files…they just don’t always bother to do it. Most web developers know that moving JS files to the footer saves time, that you can substitute base64 encoding for small images in CSS, that you can load certain common files from Google’s free CDN, etc.

However, most developers also know that most of their clients have no idea about all of the above. SO, they don’t make these things a priority.

3. Get a content delivery network (CDN). One of the easiest ways to improve site performance is to reduce the number of file requests your server has to process. If you take static files like your logo, your CSS and JS files, various images, etc. that don’t change very often and put them on a CDN, you reduce the load on your server.

When it comes to buying CDN services, you can check out Rackspace Cloud Files, Amazon Cloudfront, or my new favorite CloudFlare, which will solve most speed problems for a whopping $25 a month. Just make sure your developer is in the loop, as they’re going to have to implement one of these systems for you. (NOTE: With CloudFlare, you have to check with your hosting company).

4. When your developer tells you that you can improve performance by doing “X”, listen. Sometimes sites are slow because they’re trying to do too much…they’ve got too many images, too many extra features that require javascript, too many database calls, etc. If you ask your developer to make your site faster, and he or she responds by telling you to make a change to your site, listen.

Remember: Slow websites can hamper or even kill sales. Improve site speed and you’ll likely earn more money.

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