Is it possible that your Shopify theme won't make my store faster?


Because the theme quality is only 1 piece of the cake. Learn more about theme speed recommendations in our other article .

See an example at the bottom of the current article.

Locate the bottleneck(s)

Using a tool like GtMetrix or Pingdom , you can identify what slows down your store the most. GtMetrix has a tab called Waterfall that displays the time it takes for each call/request to load. For example, the first row at top is the time it takes to call Shopify's server to load the store. If you re-test it, the results will be different for this first row, and for the others as well. You will notice on your store that what affects speed the most are images and 3rd party scripts (apps, google fonts, etc).

Optimize your images

Images represent around half of your loading speed. That's why they are the #1 factor and therefore crucial to compress/optimize to the best possible weight vs quality. You can use Photoshop or online tools like this one , this one , this one or that one . Shopify posted a great article about the topic here . There is also Shopify apps like this one that can help. Overall, each image should be compressed (you can reach around 80% of compression without decreasing the quality of the image) and resized to the size you actually need (eg. don't upload a 800 x 800 image if you only need a 150 x 150 image).

Remove unused apps

Remove unused apps (and the scripts they leave in your theme files after being uninstalled). Some apps don't affect loading speed (eg. inventory or shipping related apps) but some others are killing your store speed (eg. popup, live chat and other fancier apps that interact with the customer experience with some lottery wheels and gift boxes).

Remove useless sections (on homepage, mostly) 

When a theme has multiple sections available, it's easy to get lost and put a lot of stuff on your homepage. If you test your homepage speed with Konversion and you see it's not loading fast, double check what sections (block of content) are really needed on your homepage. Also, when compare your current homepage fully loaded with sections to your previous homepage with very few sections, the comparison is clunky. Most often, putting too many feature collections/products/slideshows doesn't provide any added value to the customers. When you doubt you should put this or that section, that probably means you should remove them and focus on what brings value to the customer experience. 

Check the theme features enabled

Our theme has the goal to include features inside the theme to replace some apps and make you save some monthly recurring expenses (eg. Countdown timer, Currency switcher, Deal of the day widget, Sidebar filter groups, Product content tabs, Related products, Alternate image on hover, etc). Each theme feature make some requests and has a "weight" in the total loading speed. Some features request more time, for example external calls for the Facebook share & like buttons in the top header bar. Let's say we would simply disable the Facebook Share & like buttons, just that could improve results by a few %.

Check your content

Some pages are filled with a lot of content. Images and Videos are the heaviest pieces of content, but some fancy inline style on the text too can affect your loading speed. If you strip all the HTML from your content, that would improve loading speed as well. But, of course, you won't change all your content just to gain zero point something second... Or maybe you will.

Onload time versus fully loaded page time

Onload time means the time to load the page. On load, we try to make the page look nice with all the content, in order to improve the shopping experience. Fully loaded time includes all the scripts of all our theme features, and, especially, of all the apps installed on your store.

Compare to other stores

Most of the stores will perform weaker than yours. The goal here is not to console you, but to insist on the subjectivity of speed test tools and the relevance of their recommendations.

Most of Amazon web pages perform poorly. See here .

My previous theme loaded in 3.6 seconds and your theme loads in 5.4 seconds. Why?

All the points above are relevant, but the one being more relevant is the theme features enabled. Let's say you previous theme didn't have any built-in features like ours, that might explain it. For example, your current product page with our theme might have:
  • A top header bar with:
    • Facebook share & like buttons
    • Social profile icons
    • Announcement message with a call-to-action button
    • Currency switcher
  • A main menu with:
    • Sub-menu levels
    • Product menu type with product images
    • Deal of the day widget
    • Account login link and icon
  • A product page with:
    • Trust icons
    • Content tabs
    • Image thumbnails slider
    • Main image slider
    • Color swatches
    • Related products
    • Countdown timer
    • Social share buttons
    • Sticky Add to cart bar
    • Etc

Look at the number of requests and the score

What is important to look alongside the loading time is the number of requests. That indicates if the theme makes more requests (calls) to load more stuff (eg. theme features, google fonts, apps, etc). A well built theme with multiple features should still keep a high score, even if the number of requests and the page size is bigger.

Previous theme - Fully loaded page time

Our Konversion theme - Fully loaded page time

Look at the recommendations and evaluate the relevance

Most recommendations are server side, which means only Shopify can improve them (they host your store on their servers). 

For more answers to the speed test tool recommendations, read this article until the end.

Compare the Fully loaded page time versus the Onload page time

Onload page time

For the same store above, we tested the Onload page time. As you can see in the screenshot below in the top left part, every content loads on page load and nothing is deferred, thus improving the user experience and the overall shopping experience. The onload time is obviously much faster too, but no piece of content is sacrified to get better results with robots/tools at the expense of the human eyes and shopping experience.

For more info about your theme speed performance, read this article.

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