One of Mediotype’s clients, Polar-Ray (An online retailer for energy efficient LED light bulbs), noticed that their page load speeds were pretty atrocious. Subsequently bounce rates were high, cart abandonment rates were noticeable, and total page views per user were low. In the end, and as a result, sales were slipping through the cracks of their slow website. So Mediotype stepped in, we inspected the situation, identified the problem areas, and aptly applied our “special secret sauce” and… Voila! Another happy and satisfied customer!

Enhancing Page Load Speed Times For Magento eCommerce: A Success Story

Well perhaps it wasn’t that easy, and there is no sauce… but our method is actually a secret. What we’ve uncovered for increasing Magento page load speeds is rather special, and at least for the time being… we’re going to keep that to ourselves. You don’t simply find the Holy Grail then immediately pass it around for everyone to drink from and gawk at! You drink out of it yourself for a bit… you study its sheen and brilliance before handing it off to the public. That said, we will undoubtedly let loose this secret in time, but for now… we’re sort of reveling in it. But we digress from our success story.

What you’ll notice below is that Polar-Ray’s Page Size is rather large at 4.2 MB with an average Page Load Time of 5.16 sec. To make matters clearer, based on our tool, Polar-Ray’s website loaded slower than 70% of all tested websites on the Internet… which is abysmal.

Polar-Ray's page size before MediotypeNow you may be thinking to yourself, 4 MB is pretty big, and being slower than 70% of the rest of the internet is pretty awful, but 5 seconds doesn’t seem that long. You’re right. In the grand scheme of things, 5 seconds is nothing. But make someone wait who is akin to instant gratification, has countless options to choose from, and is largely concerned with the quality of their experience online (whether they are cognitive of that fact or not) and you will quickly watch them hit the back or close button after those 5 seconds. These impatient people, which make up a very large percentage of total users, are to whom all eCommerce stores are trying to market. The impatient are not its own demographic, they don’t reside somewhere specific and they are certainly not avoidable. They are you, and they are us. They are everyone.

People do not act the same online as they do off. Think of all the things people say anonymously online that they wouldn’t dare say in real life. Think about yourself for a moment, you would wait (and probably have) an hour or more in a DMV line. But… would you wait an hour to have access to a website? How about 30 min? Of course not… So then, how long would you wait? For most users… that number is surprisingly low and is determined by the website you’re visiting. I’d certainly wait longer for my bank’s personal account page to load… as I have nowhere else to go to access that information but there. But if I’m buying something online, regardless of what it is, there are likely numerous places to make that purchase elsewhere. So if the site you are on does not serve you to your satisfaction, it’s up to you as to how long you decide to put up with it.

It may be a sad and hard fact to realize… but users online are… well… spoiled. Free services, free information, even free products at times. The fact remains… if it takes more than 3 seconds for your pages to load you are guaranteed to lose users in transition. 3 seconds, for some, is far too long to have to wait. They are also not the most impatient to be concerned with. Again note these are averages. So for some poor souls on the opposite end of the bell curve, they may be expected to wait 10+ seconds for the page to finally load. This of course is unacceptable.

So Mediotype was faced with two problems that needed to be corrected. We needed to decrease total Page Sizes and decrease overall Page Load Speed times. In the end we were hoping to at least increase the Page Load Speed to exceed around 60% of the websites on Internet and decrease the actual time to less than 2 seconds. Based on the solution we found… we achieved far greater results than expected.

To begin we did nothing to optimize Load Speeds and rather focused on reducing Page Sizes to see the results of that. We were able to significantly reduce the total Page Sizes from 4.2 MB to 1 MB. The image below shows the results for the Polar-Ray homepage. What you’ll notice is that .76 seconds for Page Load Speeds were shaved off simply from reducing Page Sizes. This also increased our rating from being slower than 70% of the websites to being faster than 36% of them. Odd wording/phrasing we know… really Polar-Ray was still slower than 64% of websites. But it’s all about how you frame the data right? We’re no longer slower than x… we’re faster than x! Even though you’re stating the same exact information, it comes across differently.

Polar-Ray's page size after MediotypeThen we moved on to optimize some applications (secret sauce) that dramatically reduced the total Load Time speed. We were able to drop it from 4.4 to 2.53 seconds. The image below shows the results for the home page, and also that the site was performing faster than 60% of all tested websites! That’s not exactly crawling towards progress… more like leaps and bounds.

Polar-Ray's load time speed reduced to 2.53 secondsOnce we dug in further into the “secret sauce” formula we discovered, we found that we could use it even more effectively. Reducing even further the homepage’s Load Time Speed from 2.53 to 1.64 seconds. The site was then also faster than 77% of all tested websites. At this point we had surpassed our initial estimates at the effectiveness of what we were performing. Had we truly found something that can reduce Load Time’s so significantly?

Polar-Ray's load time speed reduced to 1.64 secondsHome page after optimization via web browser:

Polar-Ray's load time speed reduction according to browserWell the proof was in the pudding. We then went on to look at the Magento category and product pages only to be surprised again. The category page shown below had it’s total Page Size reduced to 675.1 KB with a 1.1 second page Load Time. Also note that this page had also loaded faster than 87% of tested websites. Should we be exclaiming Huzzah just yet? Not exactly…

Category Page After Optimization via http://Pingdom.com/ tools

Category page's load time speed reduced to 1.11 seconds according to PingdomCategory page after optimization via web browser:

Category page's load time speed reduced to .97 seconds according to browserBetter yet still, the product page, which was bigger than the home page by .3 MB, had a page Load Time of 1.64 seconds. Though the product page was much bigger, it still remained and kept the same low page Load Time, which we couldn’t have been happier with. This page also performed faster than 77% of all other tested websites. At this point we could celebrate… and considering this same technique could be used on any of our Magento clients… we did exactly that.

Product Page After Optimization via http://Pingdom.com/ tools

Product page's load time speed reduced to 1.64 seconds according to PingdomProduct page after optimization via web browser:

Product page's load time speed reduced to 1.12 seconds according to browserI bet you’re wondering what load looks like. We’re not going to give away all our secret sauce, but this test hitting Magento with 268 users shows how stable response times are under load.

Graph showing Mediotype's changes to the pages maintain stable load timesMediotype understands eCommerce, but the one thing we know better than anything else is that when it all comes down to it, user experience trumps everything else. Rather, user experience is everything in the online world. You can have the most beautifully designed website in the world, but what does it matter if no one is able to wait around for the page to load to see it? Don’t give your users a reason to bounce from a single page on your website. First and foremost, and with that in mind, minimize your eCommerce websites page load speeds. It won’t much matter what’s on those pages if no one ever gets to them. You will be sure to see a decrease in bounce rates, an increase in total page visits, a greater likelihood of return visitors, a bump in regards to search engine rankings (and subsequently an increase in organic traffic), and hopefully, a greater number of sales. In the end, who wouldn’t like to see all of that? The best part is, it’s easily achievable.

If you have any questions regarding reducing site load speed, and especially for Magento eCommerce, contact the specialists at Mediotype We work hard to ensure that every website receives the attention and exposure it deserves.