How well you display images on your website can have a dramatic effect on user engagement, audience retention and on sales. With so much up for grabs, it’s not surprising that we are spoilt for choice with WordPress gallery plugins. What’s not so easy, is finding the right one. No two gallery plugins are the same, with each offering different functions and styles. To help you make a more informed choice, this post will look at some of the best free gallery plugins available today.
What to look for in a WordPress gallery plugin
Before choosing a gallery plugin, you need to know what you want to achieve. What do you want to do with the images on your website? Only when you know this can you begin to make a list of functions that you would like your plugin to have. In addition, you want to choose a plugin that’s ease of use matches your level of skill. There’s little point installing something that you won’t know how to use.
Once you have a ‘functions wish list’ and have found a selection of compatible plugins, the next step should be to check out the feedback from other WordPress users. Make sure to choose one which is compatible with the latest version of WordPress, has good ratings and has a good number of active installs. Ideally, you want a plugin whose developer quickly responds to issues, too.
Here is our selection of top WordPress gallery plugins.
1. Envira Gallery
With over 100,000 active downloads and a five-star user rating, Envira Gallery is one of the leading image galleries on WordPress. The plugin is easy for beginners to use and provides a range of excellent features.
The fully responsive plugin enables you to easily create multiple galleries that can be inserted into posts and pages and even placed in widgets. Creating a new gallery is as simple as typing a name and adding or uploading the images you want to be displayed. Inserting the gallery into a post or page is made easy through the gallery icon that the plugin adds to the WYSIWYG editor.
To ensure that your gallery is perfectly suited to the layout of your website, the plugin enables you to carry out a wide selection of customisations. You can modify aspects such as layout, the number of columns, animations and thumbnail size.
A premium version is available with additional themes and features. For more information about Envira Gallery see the video below.
NextGEN has long been the most popular image gallery plugin for WordPress and has over a million active installs and a four-star rating. It’s suitable for both technical novices and advanced users, enabling you to create simple galleries or those which are far more complex. This makes it ideal for those who want to develop their galleries as their WordPress skills improve.
The plugin gives users a comprehensive way to manage their WordPress gallery: you can batch upload; add, delete, rearrange and sort images; edit your thumbnails; create gallery albums, and even import image metadata.
The free version comes with slideshow and thumbnail display styles and compact and extended album styles. These can be customised in a range of ways, including image size, visual style, display timing, transition effects and lightbox effects.
3. Foo Gallery
Foo Gallery is another five-star rated image gallery plugin with over 300K active installs. It’s an easy to use application that produces some exceptional looking gallery layouts. Built for use on modern websites, the plugin ensures that your galleries are responsive, load quickly and support high-quality thumbnails for retina-ready devices.
The plugin is designed to be lightweight, for this reason, many of its functions are optional and if you want to use them, you need to install them as add-ons. For example, the video add-on gives you the ability to create video galleries or galleries with a mixture of still image and video, and the album addon lets you add an album in a similar way to adding a gallery. Even the standard lightbox is an addon. Most of the add-ons are free, but there are some premium ones available too.
Foo Gallery comes with a number of gallery templates and you can customise many of the settings, just as you can with the plugins mentioned above.
4. WP Galleries
The WP Galleries plugin from Angie Makes is a simple but very effective tool for WordPress users who want a range of attractive gallery options that can be achieved with the minimum of fuss. Designed for photographers and other creative websites, the plugin offers a simple user interface. There’s no gallery menu on the dashboard, just additional options in the right sidebar when you are on the create post page.
The plugin essentially adds a set of extra features to the default WordPress gallery, giving you far more options when it comes to customising the size, display, captions and other feature of your gallery. These include the ability to show the gallery in a masonry (Pinterest style) format, as a slider or even as a carousel.
Other features include a full-screen image pop-up that appears when an image is clicked on (you can specify the image size if you wish) and enabling hovered over images to dim and a caption to appear – ideal for those wanting to show information about products or artwork.
5. Gmedia Gallery
The Gmedia Gallery plugin is the new kid on the block, offering something completely different for the modern multimedia website. Not only does it create image galleries, it also lets you create video and audio galleries too.
The plugin lets you upload unlimited photo, video and audio files from which you can create multimedia galleries, playlists and albums. You can even import images with captions and add tags for each file. The plugin will work with any file format too.
One of the great things about this plugin is that it is social media savvy. Clicking on a gallery image now only shows the full-size version in a lightbox, it also lets you share it on your favourite social media networks.
Out of the box, the plugin has a music and video player and offers several standard gallery display options. There are others available to install, including mosaic, sliders, photoblog and 3D options.
As you would expect from a plugin of this standard, there are many options for customising your galleries.
Image galleries really can transform the look of your website. In this post, we’ve kept the list of plugins deliberately short as we wanted to focus on those we thought the best. There are those that have been tried and tested and have long established reputations for being good and there are those newer ones, with more edgy features catering for the modern, high-vis, multimedia, social media orientated websites.
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