Do you know the secret to keeping users hooked to your online shopping website longer? It’s actually as simple as offering them a great user experience. An engaging, smooth, and fast website experience can go miles in improving your conversion rate and revenues. The website experience is not just limited to the web page loading speed, it also encompasses other site functions like product search, adding products to shopping cart, checkout, and payment process, etc. A wholesome e-commerce website experience would take all of this into account.
If you’re like most other e-commerce store owners, then you, too, rely on the capability of Magento CMS for your e-commerce platform. For all its advantages, Magento does invite complaints regarding its troublesome speed and performance. Even though Magento 2 fixes many of the issues of the previous version, it is still possible to accomplish further performance optimization into a Magento 2 website. Here are a couple of ways in which you can make your Magento 2 website run faster and better:
Updating the PHP Version to Latest
Magento 2.1 offers support for PHP 7.0, whereas Magento 2.2 supports the PHP 7.1 . If your website is about to be built from scratch, try using the latest PHP versions for the website infrastructure. These advanced PHP versions are upgraded in terms of performance and security, thus offering a good basis for building your Magento 2 website. In fact, if your already built Magento 2 website is still clinging on to the older versions of PHP, like 5.6, now would be a good time for an upgrade to the newer PHP versions which can boost your website performance significantly.
Optimizing the Server Response Time
Server response time, also known as time to first byte (TTFB), is the time taken by the web server to produce the first byte of the web page requested by the client side browser. Basically, it is a measurement of how quickly the server generates the web page after the client browser has placed a HTTP request for it. You should start by measuring the TTFB for your website. Once you know where you’re currently at, you’ll know exactly how much improvement is needed in the area.
Magento 2 provides a feature named Profiler to enable improvement in TTFB. This in-built feature of Magento 2 paints a comprehensive picture, one that includes blocks of code and the corresponding time taken to execute those codes. The trace generated by Profiler features information like time and count, where the former refers to the time consumed in the execution of a code block and the latter refers to the number of times the code block was executed. Look into the data generated by Profiler to get an idea about what places need your special attention for enhancements. Unravel the nested code block entries to get down to the poor code that’s the root cause of the performance issue.
Setting the Website to Production Mode
With Magento 2, you get three modes in which the website can be operated: default, production, and developer. A live website should always be run in production mode since it’s the fastest one out of the three modes; it is designed with focus on delivering superior performance. The other two modes, default and developer, are relatively slower modes since they are primarily designed for use in debugging. In fact, the initial page loading time can be pretty huge in default mode. Operating in default or developer mode can reduce the responsiveness of your website, so it’s important to switch out of these modes.
A simple SSH terminal command can tell you the mode in which your website is currently running. You’ll need to ask your hosting provider to give you SSH access. Once you have that, you can easily check the current mode and, if it isn’t already, change it to production mode.
Trying Higher Quality Hosting Plans
It’s possible that your hassles with Magento 2 website’s performance can be majorly resolved by simply upgrading its hardware resources. One of the many ways in which Magento 2 differs from Magento 1 is that it requires more memory resources and computing power. Your old hosting plan may not be suited to support the additional new hardware requirements of your Magento 2 website. Your website might be in need of some extra RAM and/or CPU to deliver the stellar performance that you and your website users expect out of it. Try a new hosting plan to see if the website is functioning better than before. While you’re at it, you may even consider going for a hosting solution that’s specially optimized for Magento websites.
Auditing the 3rd Party Plugins and Extensions
One of the greatest strengths of Magento 2 is that you can customize the platform by adding in new plugins and extensions as per your need. The custom plugins and extensions are a great way to personalize Magento according to your specific business requirements. But they can also be the reason why your website is not running as fast as it should.
Why so? Mostly because these plugins and extensions are not as efficiently coded as the core code. They may not have been coded in a way that takes performance requirements into consideration. Therefore, the more 3rd party plugins you keep adding to your website, chances are that website loading would keep getting slower. If you have several 3rd party custom extensions installed in your website, it’s possible that one or more of them are negatively affecting the site performance. You’ll need to perform a thorough audit to see which of them is slowing down your website.
To audit, you’ll need to disable each of the extensions one at a time and check the impact on the website’s speed. If, after disabling an extension, you find that your website has become considerably faster, then you have discovered the culprit behind the poor site performance. When you do find the bad plugin, you can get in touch with its provider for performance fixes.
Optimizing Your Cache Management
Magento 2 offers several in-built caching options. Go to the cache management of your system to turn on all the caching types that you need. Apart from these caching options, Magento 2 also provides out of the box support for Varnish Cache. Using Varnish web accelerator is recommended for full page caching in a production environment. Varnish Cache is what you should use instead of the in-built feature for full page caching.
The way Varnish works is that it stores the web page into memory, and when the user places a future request for the page, Varnish will fulfill the request without even accessing the Magento website. Apart from minimizing the request response time, Varnish can also detect the device that is being used to browse the website and offer services according to the detected device.
Varnish Cache can work wonders in speeding up your Magento 2 website, not to mention that it is also quite cost-efficient.