Your speed score refers to the Online store speed found on your Themes dashboard.
Within your Shopify admin, click Sales Channels.
Click Online Store, and select Themes from the menu.
Scroll to Online store speed.
When this speed score is low, merchants often worry - after all, we know that page speed is important for both user experience and search engine rankings.
However, there is no need to panic:
Your page speed is the time it takes to load the pages in your store. It feels great when a page loads quickly, and this is what we call the user's perception of performance - or rather, its perceived speed.
How fast a page feels is therefore what ultimately matters for user experience, but measuring this feeling can be subjective, complex, and volatile.
As difficult as it is to do, measuring page speed does serve a purpose: since 2010, Google has used page speed as an SEO ranking factor - the faster a page loads, the higher it will rank in search results.
Therefore, even though page speed metrics are not fully comprehensive in measuring your page's performance and user experience, Shopify opts to display a speed score.
Your speed score is therefore one of many interpretations of measuring page speed, and for Shopify this is calculated by Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI).
Google PSI runs a battery of tests against your page, and the number of these tests you pass determines your score. While these metrics are certainly not the be-all-and-end-all for determining how your store is performing, they are the ones that Shopify display.
For comparison, here is an example of a page's speed score being calculated by Google PSI:
And by contrast, here is the same webpage being tested by an independent speed checker:
Therefore, your page speed results vary greatly between different performance testers - so there's definitely no need to panic if your Shopify speed score seems a little low.
Not only do the page speed scores vary between performance testers, but further disparity stems from the fact that separate tests are run depending on whether the page is in desktop view or mobile view.
This is because the mobile score is sourced from emulators - programs which mimic a mobile device right inside your browser, instead of using an actual mobile.
Therefore, this can lead to inconsistent and inaccurate results - creating this score without involving real mobile software or hardware can mean that the same SEO report may give dramatically different results each time you run the test.
While Google PSI can be a useful tool for highlighting areas of improvement within your page's performance, it's important to put it into perspective: your page speed is not the priority for your storefront.
To understand this, it can be useful to think of your page like a car:
The reason it's important to consider your page speed in relation to other storefront priorities is because often, the features which make a page stand out can be the same ones that slow it down.
Examples of these 'heavy' features include:
This is why chasing a perfect speed score isn't as simple as it seems: the extent to which you should prioritize your store's page speed is a value judgment that depends on your priorities, your store's unique selling points, and the compromises you are willing to make.
While following every suggestion from Google PSI can improve your speed score, it can actually be detrimental to your store as a whole:
Customizations can be time-consuming and expensive when hiring bespoke services.
Making intricate changes to the code can make it much harder to customize in the future.
Compromising apps, fonts, videos or images can mean compromising your unique selling points.
So, what would a page with a score of 100 look like? Something resembling a non-customizable, vacant page with limited elements - not ideal for a storefront.
Your Online speed score therefore isn't wrong - it's simply misleading. Its metrics only prioritize speed, rather than what ultimately matters to your store: user experience.
Therefore, you should aim to optimize your page speed for the sake of improving your user experience, and not for achieving a perfect score.
Here at WeTheme, we work hard to optimize the performance of our themes. We do this by:
Regularly testing our themes
Following Shopify's most up-to-date guidelines
Implementing best practices for new features.
However, there are things you can do to improve your site speed which don't require advanced development.
Each image added to your page slows its load time down - especially if it's high definition.
🌟 We recommend reducing the overall number of images on your store if high-quality photography is a priority, therefore compensating for the load-times of the photos that remain.
🌟 We recommend compressing your JPEG images to make minute changes which will significantly improve your speed.
Each app added to your store also adds loading time to your pages.
🌟 We recommend testing each app both in isolation and on the main store - and using only the necessary minimum.
🌟 We recommend seeking recommendations from the app developer on keeping their app as efficient as possible.
The Slideshows element can be found on our themes under Homepage > Add Section > Image - and it is also a known factor of long load times.
🌟 We recommend limiting the number of slides to no more than two.
The more active Sections your Homepage has, the more initial load time your customers will face.
🌟 We recommend linking to a separate page that houses the actual content, therefore reducing the amount of content your Homepage has to load.
Adding custom fonts to your theme can result in longer load times.
🌟 We recommend limiting these to no more than two.
The Dynamic Checkout button is known to negatively impact your page's performance.
🌟 We recommend you toggle this off if it isn't needed.
If you would like to take a more advanced approach, you can consider implementing the suggestions provided by Google PSI.
However, as with most advanced options, there are pros and cons to addressing these complex warnings - to learn more, please read our guide on PageSpeed Insight Warning.