5 Essential Tips to Speed Up Your Magento Store in 2019
Magento is maturing really fast. We’ve already seen a few significant releases in the past two years with quality-of-life improvements, multiple bug fixes, and new functionality that was previously only available with third-party extensions.
But the growing popularity of the Magento platform comes with certain drawbacks, too. For instance, performance is still the number 1 challenge for a lot of Magento store owners. Where new stores suffer from lack of know-how on efficient optimization techniques, the old and large ones feature such intricate functionality that it becomes hard to harmonize all this code between itself.
We would like to share our own experiences on how to make any kind of store smooth, fast, and snappy for the customer. In this article, we give you 5 essential tips on making Magento a great user experience. (You can also read a full guide on how to speed up Magento).
1. Find a Magento-Focused Hosting Provider
The right hosting will take a huge load off your shoulders. A strong, Magento-focused hosting team will help you move, deploy, and operate efficiently on their servers, squeezing out the last bit of speed from the machine.
The thing is, to be effective, Magento has some very specific hardware and server requirements. In addition to that, an experienced Magento hoster will know the most common problems your team might encounter server-side and help you solve them fast.
Sure, you can run your Magento store on any machine, but let’s make a small experiment. Install a brand-new Magento demo store on your current server and populate it with demo products. Do the same for a Magento-focuced hosting. Now open the profiler and analyze the performance of all the key pages (Checkout, Shopping Cart, Homepage, Product List, Product View, Search, etc.) Compare the results. Do you see the difference here?
Just to sum up. This relatively simple change will offer a permanent boost to your Magento store performance. Don’t overlook it.
2. Know Your Bottlenecks and How to Eliminate Them
In order to successfully speed up Magento performance, you need to know what exactly needs to be sped up. And there’s no way you can find it out without proper profiling of your store. Get yourself the MGT Developer Toolbar or any other Magento profiler of your choice (or just use the default one) and start digging.
Remember, you don’t need to optimize all the things to make your store fast. You need to find the actual bottlenecks and remove them. Because they are the ones that make your store slower.
Here’s a quick guide on how to find Magento bottlenecks:
- Check if the store has a server-side or hardware bottleneck. Install a brand new store and fill it with roughly the same amount of data as the actual store. Compare their performance during normal use. Buy something, search for stuff, go places. See if you have any significant slowdowns on the demo store. If you do, this means the bottleneck lies in hardware or server configuration. If you don’t, well, we’ll have to dig around a bit more.
- Make sure third-party extensions don’t create a bottleneck. Run your store with and without third-party extensions. Use a profiler to see if there’s a significant improvement in speed. Make sure you analyze all the essential pages because some extensions only get called inside specific sections of your store, e.g. the Checkout. If the store runs well without the extensions, you’ll have to turn them on one by one to see which one of them creates problems. If the store is slow because of a specific extension, remove it, rewrite it, or find an alternative.
- Look for poorly optimized image delivery. Online retail stores are built on images. The customer needs to see what they are buying. And sometimes images become the bottleneck on pages where they are the prevalent content-type: Product View, Product List, Search Results, and Homepage. You can see the problematic pieces in your profiler or through the browser dev tools. See how to deal with this kind of bottleneck in the following tips.
- Analyze code-heavy pages for JS/CSS delivery problems. JS is the essence of Magento. It makes everything work as intended. But you can have too much of a good thing. JS-heavy pages such as Checkout and Shopping Cart will absolutely slow down to a crawl if you put too much code without any consideration for performance. To deal with poor JS times, consider deferring non-critical JS code to the bottom of the page to improve load times. You can also defer non-important CSS files in the same fashion.
3. Keep Your Magento Store and All Extensions Updated
This might seem like trivial advice, but making sure your store and all extensions are up-to-date will result in a secure and faster store. Magento regularly releases new patches with bug fixes, optimizations, and additional features.
Third-party extension updates are even more important since they often fix critical bugs and security holes that might directly affect your store’s performance. All in all, remember that an updated store is a fast store.
4. Optimize Content Delivery
A good CDN can help you deal with a plethora of performance issues at once. In addition to speeding up static content delivery, a CDN worth its salt will offer smart cache management, on-the-fly image conversion (to new image formats such as WebP) and code compression.
While a CDN cannot substitute a good hosting provider, it can offload some of the performance issues from your servers to the CDN data nodes. It’s a great help for frontend optimization since static images and videos take up the brunt of bandwidth use.
If you are not sure which CDN will work best for you, take a look at industry leaders first. From our own experience, Cloudflare and Amazon Cloudfront work best
5. Use Magento Correctly
Imagine a situation. You’ve poured a lot of resources into your Magento optimization project. The store is fast and you are generally really happy about how your Magento works. But over time something strange happens. The store becomes slower and clunkier than before. You don’t understand this change.
What used to work great is now mediocre at best. Your Google Pagespeed rank has deteriorated. Customers complain about long waits and poor performance. You need to speed up your Magento once more.
What happened? Well, in two words, humans. Remember that time you decided you need a new extension for Checkout? And 2 more for Product Listings? And that one awesome extension for your homepage? Yeah, those slowed you down a notch.
What else? Your content manager doesn’t really like the idea of cropping images to optimal size before they upload them. To add to the equation another 1500+ products with oversized photos, large homepage banners, and a growing set of design assets that Magento has to serve to your customer’s browser.
Remember you added a few dozen new carriers or countries to the delivery list but never bothered to ship there? Yep, that was a bad idea. New active price rules for that marketing campaign that is long gone? They also slow you down each time you come to the Shopping Cart or the Checkout. The list goes on and on.
Great Magento performance comes from both from a highly trained developer team and knowledgeable management of the existing store. Remember that housekeeping is as important as housecleaning and do your best to keep your store in good shape.