General: Understand your page speed score
Shopify have introduced a Online Store Speed feature which is initially displayed in the themes area of your store admin. You can also access more in-depth data in the reports area. If you want to read what Shopify says about the store speed feature please start with this article on their help centre site.
Please find below some FAQs about this complex subject.
Is my speed score important?
Yes. As stated in the Shopify article linked above, your online store’s speed can impact the shopping experience of your customers, your conversion rate, and your store's discoverability. A faster loading store is undoubtedly preferably to a slower loading store. Search engines also tend to give ranking preference to faster loading sites.
However it's important to state that some of the highest ranked, most successful stores in the world have relatively low page speed scores. A fast loading store does not necessarily mean a successful store. A relatively slower loading store does not mean you will have an unsuccessful store.
(Scores tested September 17th, 2020. The above table is taken from ethercycle.com - please be aware this linked site contains some swearing)
You might need to make some speed tradeoffs to build a user experience that leads to more sales. You could create a store that is a single page of text with no images. This would load incredibly fast but would be a poor user experience and likely result in no sales. It's best to take a holistic approach to page loading speeds.
Is my theme making my store slow?
No. It's too simplistic to say your theme is slowing down your store but it could play a part in the overall picture. Your theme is not your store, just part of it. The figure you are seeing is a store speed score, not a theme speed score.
Your online store is made up of a huge set of assets, such as theme code, scripts, apps, images, videos, carousels, social media feeds, and analytics. Because Shopify is a 'platform' system a lot of different assets are included in your store's code from different parties - such as theme developers, app developers and Shopify itself.
All themes in the Shopify theme store must be optimised and built to load fast as possible. This is an ongoing process and we work hard to improve loading times with each release of our themes. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do, in the short term, to speed up your store.
In our experience the assets that really impact store speed are Shopify apps. Please read this article for in-depth study on how installing only a few apps can drastically decrease a Google Page Speed score https://speedboostr.com/how-apps-affect-load-speed/
Does this mean you should uninstall all of your apps? Not necessarily. As stated above and in the Shopify documentation 'you might need to make some speed tradeoffs to build a user experience that leads to more sales.'
If you have an app that brings you many conversions but is slow loading, it makes sense to work with the app developer to see if they have plans to improve the loading speed. It doesn't make sense to uninstall a profitable app. The same is true of an app that is essential to other parts of your business like the customization of products. It's probably a good rule of thumb to run your store with as few apps installed as possible, if speed is your priority.
What can I do to improve my score?
Here's a list of things to try:
- Make sure you have the latest version of your theme installed. We are are constantly working on ways to make our themes better and faster so it's worth keeping your store up to date.
- There are some features inside themes that can affect performance - such as loading animations, social share buttons and dynamic checkout buttons - try turning these off.
- Do an audit of your apps and decide which ones are essential and must remain installed.
- Uninstall unused or unimportant apps - please be aware that uninstalling an app doesn't 'delete' it and it can leave behind zombie code and scripts. Speak to your app developers for more on this.
- There are some additional suggestions from Shopify here that may help.
- This is a very complex subject with lots of variables at play. You may wish to hire a Shopify expert to help you improve your score.
In conclusion, your page loading speed is important and you should address it. However, it's not the only thing to be concerned with when running your store. It's easy to become too focused in improving your score only to sacrifice time, money and attention that could be used to build your business in other ways.