I started working with Print-on-demand sites on a royalty basis in 2014. It wasn’t before two years later that I started selling really well. However, no matter how successsful I became on these platforms, I always dreamt of having my own online shop where I can present my artwork the way I want to, sell it on my own and get more exposure for my own studio.
So I started my own print shop last year. As most of you know I keep things simple and sell exclusively signed unframed art prints.
Having worked as a web designer in the past, designing & developing the website was a reasonably easy job but what needed more efforts was optimizing the shop for speed and usability. And I quickly realized that constantly working on improving user experience for e-commerce is a close second my first love which is, of course, creating art.
So for all of you independent artists out there, I decided to put together this list of tools that helped me optimize my shop to load faster. This post is the first part of my two-part e-commerce website optimization series. This part is about speed optimization and the second part will be about usability optimization. So stay tuned.
Below are my website analysis/reports from the leading tools.
Performance Grade: B 83
Load Time: 906 ms
Optimization Grade: A
First Byte: 0.439 s
First Contenful Paint: 0.681 s
PageSpeed Score: A(94%)
Fully Loaded Time: 6.6 s
Google Pagespeed Score: 97
Fully Loaded Time: 4.3 s
1. WordPress + Woocommerce
In my opinion, it’s just as easy to use as Shopify, Squarespace or any other paid platforms that claim to be easier but it’s Free and the most scalable of them all. I use WP Engine as my hosting service and I have not had a single thing to complain about in the last 4 years. Their support is like no other.
2. Content Delivery Network
I use WP Engine’s CDN. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a service that disperses your static assets to various server locations around the world. This makes static assets, which are generally large files like images, physically closer to users and therefore faster to download. As a CDN disperses assets across several server locations, the weight of your site is also distributed better during times of high traffic.
3. WP Rocket
I use WP Rocket for cahing with features like combining + moving all your scripts & CSS files to the footer for better page loading speed. I also use their Lazy Load feature to reduce my page load time by loading images only as they appear on the page while a user scrolls down. All this can be done with just a few clicks.
I use Imageify to reduce the size and loading time for all my images, compressing them without any visible quality loss. The plugin also converts all JPG & PNG images to the WEBP format – a modern image format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. Using WebP, you can create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs.
Perfmatters increases the speed of your site by reducing HTTP requests, disabling unnecessary plugins & WordPress functions, stripping out code, and minimizing back-end load.
Over To You
Are you an independent artist learning how to sell your art online? Do share your questions and experiences in comments below.