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How to Speed Up Your Website for Black Friday

Insights from Amasty & SpeedSize
Recorded November 2 2023

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In this insightful webinar, SpeedSize’s Saj Abbas teams up with Magento experts Anna Shumeiko and Alex Boyko from Amasty to dive into the essentials of ecommerce website optimization for Black Friday success. The discussion centers around the critical importance of loading speeds, high-quality media content, and user experience in driving sales and customer retention. With an emphasis on practical solutions like AI-powered compression and optimization, server scaling, and CDN utilization, the experts unpack actionable strategies to help ecommerce brands navigate the high-stakes shopping season. They stress the balance between feature-rich personalization and streamlined performance, all while providing guidance on maintaining an agile, customer-focused online presence. Whether you’re a seasoned ecommerce professional or just starting out, this webinar offers valuable takeaways to bolster your website’s performance during one of the busiest retail periods of the year. Among the points discussed, the most important were:

  1. Optimize for Speed: Ensure your website loads quickly to avoid customer frustration and potential loss of sales. Google also considers page speed as a ranking factor, affecting your search engine position.

  2. User Experience: A fast-loading website enhances the user experience, leading to increased engagement, longer sessions, more interactions, and likely repeat visits, which translates to higher conversion rates and revenue.

  3. High-Quality Media: Invest in high-quality, crisp images and videos without compromising load times. Use advanced AI-powered compression and optimization platforms to maintain quality and performance. Schedule a demo with SpeedSize to learn how.

  4. Technical Optimization: Regularly audit your site to ensure custom code adheres to best practices, remove unused modules, and optimize the server setup for handling high traffic, especially during peak sales periods like Black Friday.

  5. Use CDN: For international brands, use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reduce the distance between the website server and the user’s device, ensuring faster content delivery across different locations. SpeedSize ensures optimized delivery as part of our solution – find out more about our features

  6. Balance Personalization and Performance: While personalization features are crucial for user engagement, it’s important to balance them with website performance to ensure a swift user experience.

  7. Third-Party Tools: Be judicious with the use of third-party tools and extensions. Opt for those that are optimized for performance and regularly update or remove those that aren’t necessary.

  8. Mobile Optimization: Ensure your website is optimized for mobile users, who often face slower internet connections. Consider implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for faster mobile loading.

  9. Continuous Improvement: Treat website optimization as an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. Regularly seek new ways to improve site speed and user experience, particularly in preparation for high-traffic events.

See the Full Transcript below.

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Saj Abbas: Hey, I think we can probably get started. So welcome everyone. Thanks for joining us. I’m Saj, the head of customer success here at SpeedSize. If you’re new and you’re wondering what SpeedSize is, well, we’re an advanced AI-powered compression and optimization platform providing top-quality images and video experiences for websites and top online brands.

Today’s discussion, today’s webinar, is all about website speed and how it impacts Black Friday success and end-user engagement.

Joining us today are Anna and Alex from Amasty, one of our best Magento 2 development companies and one of our primary platinum partners. We’ve worked with countless customers together on many dozens of complex media-heavy Magento 2 e-commerce websites. Together, we’ve helped these companies realize the true potential of their brand via Amasty and SpeedSize, partnering together to create faster, more aesthetically pleasing and impressive websites without any of the performance hits.

And so today, we’ll dig deep into why optimization can help your Black Friday sales. If you have any questions, please do pop them into the chat, and we’ll get to those towards the end of the webinar.

On that note, welcome Anna and Alex. I’ll let you guys introduce yourselves.

Anna Shumeiko: Thank you so much. Hi, everyone, my name is Anna, and I’m the lead account manager at Amasty in the Custom Development Department. Precisely, in the Custom Development Department, we strongly believe that not all the business processes, not all the models, not all the business needs can be covered with modules. So that’s why we’re working closely with our clients to make us meet their expectations. As you know, Amasty is a leading company in producing modules for Magento and for e-commerce. So we have a strong expertise in e-commerce, and that’s why we’re exploring more with the custom development team.

Alex Boyko: Yes, hello, everyone. I’m a back-end developer from Amasty. My responsibility in company projects is optimization and custom development. That’s why I’m here, and I’m here to add some technical information for you. Glad to see you.

Saj Abbas: Likewise. Thank you, Alex. On that note, let’s get into the first agenda point. As I mentioned, you guys have been one of our primary platinum partners, and you’ve helped several dozen of our customers become very successful through our partnership. So the first question I’d like to kick off with is, from your perspective, why is it essential for businesses, especially e-commerce brands, to focus on optimizing their website speed?

Anna Shumeiko: Yeah, thank you. That’s a good question. So the reasons for having an optimized website are quite obvious, and there are quite a lot of them. But let me briefly dive into three main points. The first one is that customers demand a fast-loading website. So that’s the benchmark and a must for any e-commerce business. Slow-loading websites frustrate visitors, and this frustration leads to driving them away from your website. And for you, it means you will lose in sales, opportunities, and revenue. So all these factors lead to a potential customer churn and your revenue loss. The second reason is about Google’s ranking. We definitely know that Google considers page speed as a ranking factor. So to ensure your website ranks higher in search positions, you need to have a well-optimized website. Finally, an optimized website enhances the user experience.

To improve customer satisfaction and boost the conversion rate, you need to have a well-optimized and fast-loading website. So all these are good paths to increase revenue and profitability.

Saj Abbas: Absolutely. Look, I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s pretty obvious when a website loads slowly, engagement is not very good, right? I’m not going to go back to the website, especially if it’s an e-commerce website. If I want to buy, let’s say, a coat or a jumper, I want that image to load quickly. I want it to be crisp, and I want to be able to see the seams. I want to know that this is a good quality product. If the image is not of good quality, I don’t think I can vouch for the product, right? If you can’t get the website right, you probably won’t be very interested in the product. And I would further that by saying, you know, the team and I here at SpeedSize are always emphasizing these points, always going for supreme high-quality photo shoot-ready images without compromising the website delivery speeds. That’s, I think, the primary magic that we work together with—getting those really high-quality images without affecting the overall speed of the website.

Anna Shumeiko: That’s why we work with you guys, of course. Yeah, definitely. So any user will not wait for just several seconds for the image to load, the video about the product. They’ll definitely click the back button and go to your competitor.

Alex Boyko: When you present your product, it’s necessary. It’s important how it looks.

Saj Abbas: For sure, 100%, absolutely. So, moving on to the second question we have listed here: how does optimizing a website for speed influence the end-user experience? And in turn, what impact does this create for the business bottom line? It goes nicely with what we just discussed.

Anna Shumeiko: Yeah, so actually, a user journey is the very crucial business focus. To create a seamless and frustration-free journey for visitors is a must for every e-commerce business. When the page loads quickly, the user is more engaged, satisfied, and likely to purchase. They find what they are looking for, and they will find more products. So checkouts will increase, and you will win in terms of sales and revenue. This naturally results in longer sessions, increased interactions, and the user will likely return to your website and purchase further. So the impact on the business is absolutely substantial. Improved user experience guarantees higher conversion rates, better search engine rankings, and reduced bounce rates. Collectively, all these things contribute to increased sales, revenue, profitability, and so forth. That is the main benchmark for any business.

Saj Abbas: For sure. And you know, I think ultimately, the better the quality of the website, the better the experience, the higher the revenue goes up, right? It equals revenue at the end of the day. I would further that by saying, at least here at SpeedSize, it’s been part of our DNA, almost our philosophy, to make sure that websites look as premium as they should and load very quickly. You know, it’s unacceptable for a website to showcase their brand if it doesn’t load quickly. Many e-commerce platforms out there limit this ability, and by default, it costs them a lot of money and resources to push these big assets and videos through their platform. So yeah, in short, the better the asset quality, the better your conversion rate at the end of the day for your customers.

Anna Shumeiko: Media is actually the face of any e-commerce brand. That’s why it’s essential to have good quality. Users will interact with the media, and it increases brand loyalty and further conversion rates as well.

Saj Abbas: Yeah, and you know, come to think about it, we have social media these days as well. So if you’re sharing your images, you want them to look nice. You’re not going to share an image that doesn’t look good, right? Even if the image is of a good subject matter, if it’s low quality, why would I share it with anyone? So these are all very important variables that one should take into consideration when they are in the middle of creating their brand and pushing the brand awareness out.

Saj Abbas: Yeah, absolutely. So question number 3 for you guys. And we often hear about Google PageSpeed scores when discussing website optimization. It’s a very common subject. Can you elaborate on what these scores represent and why they’re crucial for top online brands?

Alex Boyko: Yeah, I think I can add some technical information about Google PageSpeed as metrics. The Google PageSpeed scores are generated by Google PageSpeed Insights and include six crucial core web vitals. Each of them offers unique information about your website’s performance.

Alex Boyko: Let’s talk a little bit about these details. First Contentful Paint (FCP) measures the speed of the first piece of content on a page. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) shows how quickly a web page’s largest content element renders, which can be an image, a video, or text block, depending on the page. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) estimates how much page content shifts during loading.

Alex Boyko: First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity and how quickly a page responds to user clicks or tap input. Total Blocking Time (TBT) estimates how quickly a page responds to user interactions, such as button clicks or text input. Lastly, Time to First Byte (TTFB) stands for the time it takes for a user’s browser to receive the first byte of data from your server.

Alex Boyko: For all of these metrics, smaller numbers are better since it means that less time is needed to build the interactive page.

Saj Abbas: Absolutely. You know, it’s a very tricky question, and you handled it really well, especially on the topic of Time to First Byte (TTFB). When it comes to page speed optimization, there is a kind of secret sauce out there. We don’t know exactly what’s happening in the algorithm, but these 6 steps are very good initial things to handle to ensure that page speed optimization is effective. And while we’re on the point of TTFB, SpeedSize vastly improves TTFB. So if TTFB is a concern at the moment, and it probably will be if you’re using the default CDN technology of your e-commerce platform, then SpeedSize can absolutely help you out here as well, alongside you guys, of course.

Alex Boyko: Yes, it’s true. But it’s not only about TTFB; it’s also about LCP. For example, if a critical page element, like an image or video, doesn’t load quickly, it affects LCP. SpeedSize can help with that too.

Saj Abbas: Yes, absolutely. I would love for the next webinar to include maybe some comparisons. Maybe we can go into a bit more detail in a presentation. So I think this information is gold. It’s very difficult to Google this kind of thing; you either know it or you don’t. And again, that was one of the reasons why we partnered with professionals like yourselves.

Saj Abbas: Question number 4 for you guys. Given how competitive this landscape is, and it is a very competitive landscape, how does better page speed contribute to retaining visitors and ensuring they don’t jump ship to a competitor’s website?

Anna Shumeiko: Yeah, definitely. So, as we’ve mentioned before, users’ patience is a limited resource. So any user will not wait for several seconds for the product page to load or for the image of the product they are looking for to load. So that is why the expectations for a swift and seamless experience are very high.

Anna Shumeiko: Visitors who visit a fast-loading page are more likely to stay engaged, explore further products connected to the one they are viewing, find what they are looking for, and make purchases. All these experiences will be without the feeling of frustration, prompting them to click the back button and go to a Google search list, which may lead them to a competitor’s website with a better user experience.

Saj Abbas: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a good definition. And I think if you were to distill it down, it’s really obvious as well. Do you want to stay on a website that doesn’t load quickly? I wouldn’t. Personally, if a website doesn’t load almost instantly these days, I’m looking for another website to go to.

Saj Abbas: And I can further that by saying here at SpeedSize, we believe that the quality of the visuals will retain your visitors and make them come back as well. And combined with your solution and the services that you provide, it not only helps with retention but also encourages new users to come to the website. When people talk about a great-looking website with big banners and high-quality images, it gives them confidence that the brand is of high quality.

Saj Abbas: So question number 5 from your perspective, Amnesty’s perspective and experience: What are some practical steps website owners should take to improve their page speed and overall user experience?

Alex Boyko: I think it’s a technical question, and it’s a difficult one. But I think, first of all, it’s necessary to make sure your servers are scaled properly. One of the most important factors contributing to slow website performance is low server capacity and inadequate scaling.

Alex Boyko: During Black Friday, servers experience a huge load, and if they are not scaled to handle high traffic, it will lead to slow site speed and downtime.

Alex Boyko: The next step is to optimize the database and scripts. It’s another crucial process that results in faster website performance. It helps minimize server processing time and avoids delays in page rendering.

Alex Boyko: Lastly, make sure your store doesn’t have low-quality plugins and extensions because they have slow and bulky code. Such extensions will lead to slow page rendering and longer time to interact. Only install extensions from developers who care about your site’s performance.

Saj Abbas: Oh, sure. And you know, working with you guys. And this is where you guys really shine. We are not backend server stack experts, and we don’t pretend to be. We can advise you and make some recommendations. But this is where you guys come in, right? Like you, you are the guys that can help us or help customers on that side on the server side and making sure it auto scales correctly, and the database is performing well.

Saj Abbas: The plugins are up to date, and the website code has been updated and sanitized often. Very tricky to get right, but super important. And I, for one, like to build websites in my spare time, and I probably have a dozen plugins that haven’t been updated, and just kind of listening to your answer, I should probably go back and check which ones of these are, you know, 5 years out of date and haven’t been updated for a very long time. So it’s a great answer. Really appreciate that one.

Saj Abbas: I would kind of extend on that by saying that we hear our speed size, we focus on the media, the images, and video optimization.

Saj Abbas: And it’s interesting to see how comprehensive paid speed solutions like those from you guys, Amnesty, can bring a transformative online experience, you know, just making sure some of those plugins are up to date or have been removed in some cases where it’s not necessary, can absolutely change the page. Speed, optimization score. And if there’s anyone in the audience who wants more information on that, you know, please feel free to put it in the Comments section. And we’ll be happy to follow up.

Saj Abbas: So. And that kind of brings us neatly to the next question, which is, since third-party tools can indeed be a major factor in page speed optimization delays. How do you suggest addressing this issue? What’s the best way of handling this situation?

Anna Shumeiko: Yeah, from Amnesty’s experience, we know that third-party tools can really influence the performance and can slow down the website if they are not properly optimized if they’re not properly set up and developed, actually, without having in mind that performance can be a bottleneck.

Anna Shumeiko: So talking about the Magento modules, we are, many. All the Magento best practices. We are, many, all the Magento recommendations in terms of performance. So that is why we’re testing the modules to implement them in different environments. So that is why to ensure that all these modules are well optimized and will not decrease the performance of any website of our clients.

Anna Shumeiko: With the experience. In terms of Custom Development Department, I should say that we have just the list of recommendations for our clients first of all to audit frequently the websites to ensure that the custom code is written meeting all the Magento best practices to ensure that all unused models are completely removed, and sometimes it’s not just switching off the module, but setting up all the dependencies to make sure that additional resources of the website are not loading and not influencing the performance. So that is why every e-commerce.

Anna Shumeiko: Director or business owner should keep that in mind. That auditing the website is the crucial point for keeping the keeping on the market.

Anna Shumeiko: And what else?

Anna Shumeiko: Just testing is also just a good thing and checking the customer journey. You should know the bottlenecks of your website. You should know what are those pages that are mostly quit by the by your end users and find the reasons. So that as a tricks.

Saj Abbas: Absolutely, and you know, I can talk about this for the next 2 hours, but we don’t have too much time left. So I’m gonna try and move it on quite quickly. You know the things that you mentioned are

Saj Abbas: Absolutely vital, and it’s so easy to get stuck down the path of using lots of different plugins to find the quickest solution. And if you’re starting off in the e-commerce world and you’re building your first e-commerce brand, sure. But once you start making sales and you want to really enhance the aesthetic ability of the website. It’s important to go in and check these plugins.

Saj Abbas: And again, one of the top reasons why we partnered with you guys is that you do this really, really well, and you do it on a professional level. And anyone can kind of go into the code and and rip out some legacy Plugin or code or Javascript.

Saj Abbas: I don’t recommend doing it that way because you can break several things. And so again, if there’s anyone in the kind of audience that has any questions around this kind of thing, we’ll be happy to help, and we will share the kind of contact details at the end of this, and I can say for sure, on speed, size at speed, size side, on my kind of table. We have lots of customers that we recommend immediately to update or remove plugins because it completely kills the page speed optimization. So excellent points really appreciate it.

Anna Shumeiko: Yeah, that’s small addition to what I’ve said that that is why actually performance audit. And further optimization is just a very popular service at Amnesty, so doing a lot of audit, a lot of performance audits. We found out that around 60 modules are installed on the Magento instances and not used completely. So that is why those services, though those audits are just, they must for any e-commerce website.

Saj Abbas: Oh, sure, absolutely. And and again, I should probably go back and check some of my projects and see what’s running in the background and slowing down those sites. So if you’re kind of scratching your head and you’re wondering, you know, what? Where’s the performance, and why is the page speed so low? It’s not just about the image optimization. It’s not just about the TTFB. Like Alex mentioned. It’s a combination of things and a consultatory kind of environment where we can have a look at your website as it stands.

Saj Abbas: And we can give you, you know, some recommendations. That’s the best place to start

Saj Abbas: But again, for the next one, it would be great to kind of go into a bit more depth, and maybe a presentation. On this, I think that would be awesome for our audience.

Saj Abbas: Yeah, let’s see where we’re up to. I think we’re on question number 7.

Saj Abbas: So personalization features certainly boost sales, but negatively affect website performance in the hypothetical scenario, where you have to choose between personalization and speed. What would you recommend a business to go for? So what’s better? and speed or performance?

Anna Shumeiko: You know, it’s a tricky question. Actually, first of all, what I should say is that personalization is vital for any business, so users would like to be treated as just a unique personality, not just the mass of leads, or something like that. So it’s impossible to boost any sales. It’s impossible to boost revenue before Black Fridays and all these sales seasons without personalization features. So it’s essential. We can’t say that it’s not important, so that is why a very good thing is to maintain the balance between personalization features and performance. Actually, as I’ve said before, that is why an audit is just a crucial thing for each website, so you can check what personalization features are used, and are they really important for your business, or maybe, you know, if you turn them off, you will see that the page speed increased significantly. So, you know, balance is the most important thing in terms of that.

Anna Shumeiko: And also what should be mentioned is that you can check a lot of cases in terms of personalization features, you can see that maybe the proper optimization is not done. So that is why the page speed is decreased. So that is why, first of all, I can’t say that one thing is the most important than another. But, you know, the balance and good quality of those features, that is the most important thing.

Saj Abbas: Absolutely, and I would kind of tend to agree with you, there. It’s a difficult question to answer. But the idea of personalization is fantastic, and we certainly don’t want to turn that off. But if it’s taking a performance hit, then it becomes a bit of a challenge. So the idea of having a balance and perhaps auditing the website to see what personalization features are actually being used and if they’re really contributing to the bottom line. It’s a very good idea. And again, you know, guys, if you have any questions around this or you need more information, please feel free to drop them in the Comments section.

Saj Abbas: So. And that kind of brings us to the end of the questions. I mean, it’s been an absolutely fantastic interview, and it’s been great having you here. I mean, do you have any final thoughts? Is there anything that you’d like to share with the audience? And again, how can we get in touch with you? How can we find out more about Amnesty Design and Amnesty’s work and services?

Anna Shumeiko: Yeah, of course. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this interview, and to say all the things about performance, about personalization features, it was great. It was a pleasure to talk with you. So first of all, if you have any additional questions, if you need more information, if you would like to talk about any custom development, audit, or some support packages, feel free to contact us. We will be glad to help you, to provide you with all the needed information.

Anna Shumeiko: Just don’t hesitate to contact us through the website. So you can just fill in the Contact Us form, and we will provide you with all the needed information. Also, you can check our website, where you can find a lot of great and interesting articles about performance optimization, about different eCommerce trends, so just feel free to check the website to keep in touch with all the latest news and trends in the market.

Saj Abbas: Absolutely, and I think we’re actually putting up your email address on the screen. So, yeah, I can confirm you can contact Anna via email. It’s probably one of the easiest ways of getting in touch. And we’ll share some of Anna’s kind of social media profiles and Amnesty Design’s social media profiles as well.

Saj Abbas: Anna, it’s been fantastic having you here. I think the information that you shared today, it’s invaluable, and it’s so important for anyone that’s running an eCommerce website, and especially if you’re on the Magento platform. It’s so important that you have these services and this expertise available to you. And it’s not something that you can kind of just do in-house unless you have a team of engineers and developers. It’s a very specialist thing.

Saj Abbas: So if you’re running an eCommerce store, if you’re on Magento, and if you’re using a hosting provider like ourselves, please feel free to get in touch, and we’ll be happy to do an audit for you and see how we can potentially improve the performance of your website. Anna, thanks very much. It’s been great having you here. And yeah, I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.

Anna Shumeiko: Yeah, thank you very much. It was a pleasure to talk with you. So thank you. Have a good day.

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