Slow OpenCart store? Read this.


Why speed is important?

A fast website is just like breathing – it is something that we assume will work out of the box. It is only when are deprived from what we take for granted, that we are realize how essential it is. Seriously, a fast website is certainly not something we usually hear people brag about, because this is what a website should be – fast. On the opposite end, a slow website is something that irritates users and causes your dropout rate to increase. According to a recent study by Akamai & Forrester, a website with 5 seconds to load results in 20% of people bailing out. Another study shows that 52% of visitors consider speed an essential criteria for returning to a site. Here are more numbers coming directly from the search engine conducted resarch:

  • +500 ms (speed decrease) results in -20% traffic loss
  • +400 ms (speed decrease) results in -5-9% full-page traffic loss. The Visitor left before the page finished loading
  • +100 ms (speed decrease) results in -1% sales loss

In case you are wondering, yes, the numbers are in milliseconds. Delving deeper studies show, that a slow website results in lower perceived credibility (Fogg et al. 2001), lower perceived quality (Bouch, Kuchinsky, and Bhatti 2000) and increased user frustration (Ceaparu et al. 2004). Bottom line is even if you are not a Fortune 500 company, and 100 ms are nothing of world importance for you, you still want a fast website, at least faster than your competitors.

There are various ways to speed up your website involving coding skills, passion, determination, blood, sweat and tears. We perceive store owners as busy businessmen that want to focus their time on running their store, instead of solving coding riddles and researching. Thus we believe that a comprehensive one-fix-all-awesome solution is something that you might be after. Meet NitroPack.

What is NitroPack?

NitroPack is the first and only complete Web Performance Optimization Framework for OpenCart. Behind the techy Web Performance Optimization Framework, the goal of NitroPack is rather simple. It is designed to boost your page loading speed, increase your SEO, SEM, enhance your Google and Yahoo rankings and improve overall user experience.

How fast is my OpenCart store?

There are a number of tools that serve as a gauge for your store speed. Here are two of the most renown ones.

When it comes to checking your store speed for free, GTMetrix is among the titans here. It provides a comprehensive breakdown featuring Google PageSpeed and Yahoo’s YSlow. You are able to identify your website lows and highs, as well as estimate the impact the metric has on the overall score. It goes without saying, but the higher percent and grade you get, the better. You can generate a free store speed report here:

As an alternative for the test, we will be using another eminent service – Pingdom. Here information is easier to comprehend and neatly organized into blocks of data. Pingdom is especially cool, for it allows for multiple locations testing (Europe, USA, and the like) This is particularly useful as you can see how many seconds it takes for different servers to open your website. You can get a free test report here:

Default OpenCart vs. NitroPack OpenCart

Now, time has come to view and compare a standard OpenCart installation against NitroPack and measure performance. For the set up we have used a modest shared hosting server, where we set two OpenCart installations:

a) Default OpenCart
b) Default OpenCart with NitroPack + Theme Performance Optimization. Theme Performance Optimization is a customization package service performed by our development team.

Lets get visual and go ahead with the benchmarking. In the left specimen we will see the results gathered from the default OpenCart installation and on the right is OpenCart with NitroPack.

GTMetrix Benchmark

As we see, our case study shows that on average NitroPack loads your page much faster, serves a smaller page size and makes fewer number of requests. Taken the results into consideration, NitroPack OpenCart gets you a higher Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow Grade. Crunching the numbers, we get 3 times smaller page size with 40% less number of requests and an astonishing 40% faster website load. (Compare this to the data presented in the beginning, where we are referring to milliseconds)

Lets view some more charts, taken from the benchmark:

Observation: NitroPack significantly improves the Standard OpenCart

Details: Above, we can view a comparison between the Standard OpenCart and the NitroPack equipped OpenCart. The head to head comparison concentrates on the difference between Google Page Speed Scores and YSlow Scores. In both metrics higher score reads as better, so we have marked the difference in red.

Observation: NitroPack significantly improves the Standard OpenCart

Details: Again, we are viewing the significant difference between a Standard OpenCart store and a NitroPack OpenCart store. This time a lower Page Size, Page Load Time and Request Counts are considered a plus, hence we have signified the difference with a green arrow.

You can view the full report here:

Pingdom Benchmark

In the begining we have stressed on the importance of multi-location testing. Website visitors who are closer to your server location are more likely to view your website faster. Thus page load time is correlated to your customer’s geo-location. In the case of GTMetrix the test query is initialized from Canada, whereas our budget test server is located in Europe. One of Pingdom’s servers is located in the Netherlands, so lets perform another comparison test betweet the Standard OpenCart and NitroPack OpenCart. We will be using the Pingdom benchmarking tool for this test:

Turns out that OpenCart website loads faster. Whats more, here things look much more optimistic for the Standard OpenCart – a grade of 79/100 and Load time of only 1.08s. reference here. The results stand much better compared the GTMetrix test. After all, the test shows we get a website faster than 88% of all tested stores. Now lets see how the NitroPack scores.

Turns out things can get better. NitroPack OpenCart earned us the top tier 97/100 and only 562 ms of page load time. In this test the page loaded twice as fast. Also notice that NitroPack served a 3+ times smaller page size, merely 187 KBs compared to 505.9 KBs in the test with the Standard OpenCart. reference here.

Observation: NitroPack significantly improves the Standard OpenCart

Final Words

With this blogpost, we hope we have raised your awareness of the vast importance that website speed plays nowadays. Website speed can make the difference betwen choosing your website over your competitors and getting ahead with sales. We have aimed to show you both a visual and a numeric representation of a face-to-face comparison between a Standard OpenCart and a NitroPack OpenCart store. Bottom line is, with NitroPack your store will go from OooopenCaaaart to OC. (Hint: count the time it takes you to say both and you will see what we mean)

How to Get NitroPack

You can find more information on NitroPack here.

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