Web content is the key to a successful website. It should be engaging and easy to navigate. However, today’s visitors don’t have a lot of patience. Usually, they make a decision to search the site or move on in less than 15 seconds. While misleading will chase your visitors away, it is a visual appeal that will influence visitors decision the most. So, a great visual design is a necessity for a successful website. It means images and photos among other things. Images and photos mean that you should have a WordPress gallery plugin.
WordPress comes with a built-in gallery feature, but it is basic and pretty limited. If you want to take your design to the next level you will need a more sophisticated gallery plugin. It will allow you to add remarkable visual elements to your site. Improving visual design will make your website more appealing, more user-friendly and consequently more successful. While it is not the only important thing, you can’t overestimate the significance of the visual experience of your visitors.
Of course, images make a part of your overall visual impression. To be completely honest, you can do without gallery plugins, as WordPress basic gallery will do the job. But, to get the full benefit of your images and make the best of it, you will need a gallery plugin. And you should try to get an edge, whenever it’s possible. Especially if the improvement is free of charge and easy to use. The majority of gallery plugins are free to download, while you can also opt for an upgraded pro version that you’ll have to pay for.
What to Look For
There is nothing like a short supply of WordPress gallery plugins. There are hundreds if not thousands of available options. While it is better to have a number of choices, too many of them can be confusing. Your goal shouldn’t be to get the best gallery plugin, but the one that meets your needs best. Different plugins offer a wide variety of features. You don’t want to end up with a gallery plugin that has a myriad of options that you don’t need, while not having the best features that you need.
So, your search should have two steps. Firstly, you should check out some general features, popularity, and reliability of the plugins. Secondly, consider how does it fit into your concept. Don’t overthink it, though. Your time is valuable and this is not rocket science. After all, if you are unhappy with your gallery plugin, you can uninstall it and try another one.
I’d say that the speed is generally the most important virtue in the contemporary world. If you can’t provide your services at a fast pace, you are too late, someone else has grabbed the deal. What does this mean for websites and gallery plugins? It means everything. If it takes ages for your images to load, by the time it’s done your visitor or customer is probably long gone. Several studies have shown that even the best content becomes pretty useless if it loads too slow.
In that case, your images work against you instead of for you. So, having a fast loading gallery plugin is a must. But, before you even consider the speed of plugins you should optimize your images. For the best results, you will need an image compression plugin as well.
Speed is absolutely essential and you shouldn’t make any compromises about it. You can bend the rules here and there with other features, but not with the speed. There is no feature that can save the day if your gallery plugin is slowing your site down.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is generally important feature. Creating an image gallery can be overwhelming and frustrating for beginners. You need to choose lightbox animations, thumbnail sizes, layouts, columns, and rows not to mention advanced features. So, great gallery plugins should be understandable and easy to use for an average Joe.
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However, if you are a developer or a tech-savvy person you can disregard this feature. If you are a beginner, you should look for plugins with great features, but also easy to create or edit.
Features are responsible for the final appearance of your image gallery. It is essential to choose a gallery plugin that has all the features you may need. However, this is the most flexible part of your choosing process.
Your needs are more important than the overall capability of a certain gallery plugin. So, you shouldn’t be looking for the plugin with the greatest variety of features. You should focus on the features that you need. Therefore, you should think carefully about what you want. Do you need a photo gallery only, or you want a video gallery as well? How about albums, animation, pagination, social media sharing, eCommerce? As a matter of fact, if you don’t need too many features it may be a good idea to choose a simpler gallery plugin. A large number of features can slow down your site, so you need the right balance between features and functionality.
While checking out the popularity isn’t really the most reliable method to rate the product, it is helpful. This way you can see the feedback from actual users. It will give you an insight into potential downsides and shortcomings of each gallery plugin. It is sort of ‘playing safe’ to go for most popular plugins. Some new plugins may offer very appealing features, but you don’t really know if it works as planned.
So, the number of active users and rating that you can find on WordPress can give you a pretty good idea about available plugins.
Best WordPress Gallery Plugins
This is probably the fastest gallery plugin. It was designed to be as fast as possible and as easy to use as possible. And it hit the mark as this is one of the most popular gallery plugins. Users ratings are as high as it gets. All features are drag-and-drop so it is really very easy to use for everyone. The basic free version offers a variety of basic controls such as lightbox, lazy loading, number of columns, templates, etc. It will work great on all widgets.
Overall, it is powerful, fast and easy to use gallery plugin. However, most of the advanced features come with the pro version only.
NextGEN is the most popular and one of the oldest gallery plugins. It is highly customizable. This plugin probably offers the most extensive list of features right out of the box. I am talking about free versions here. Of course, NextGEN offers additional upgrades and features with the pro version. It is intuitive and functional. However, a great number of features and options may be a bit overwhelming. It can take some time to become familiar with it to get a full benefit of its rich features.
It is worth mentioning that this gallery WordPress plugin is very popular among professional photographers. However, if you are looking for a simple, easy to use basic gallery plugin, you may find it too excessive.
Photo Gallery by Web10 is a powerful gallery plugin. It is a fully responsive plugin. The free version offers album support, video gallery option, watermarks, and importing photos from Instagram among other features. Just like NextGEN, it is a bit of overkill for users that need a simple basic gallery features. While it is easy to use, some of the more advanced features are available with the pro version.
Overall, it offers a great balance between ease of use and powerful functionality.
Modula is one of the younger plugins, at least among very popular ones. However, its popularity is on the rise. It is probably the easiest to use a gallery plugin. The creators managed this thanks to one brilliant innovation. You can choose one of two plans: basic and advanced. With very few settings you can create a simple, but neat gallery using a basic plan.
If you want more, you can select advanced settings area and go for more features. Anyway, a free version offers lightbox, social media sharing, different image effects and more.
FooGallery is another feature rich gallery plugin. It is easy to use and comes with many features right out of the box. The free version includes lightbox, templates, hover effects, pagination and more cool features. It is fully responsive as well.
Premium version offers more advanced options, but the basic version offers a nice variety of features already.
If you are creating a new website or blog, there are lots of things to think of. High-quality content, design, themes, and the list goes on and on. The stylish gallery will make your site look better. If you are having some second thoughts – don’t. We live in a world that changes rapidly, and the only way to be successful is to adjust to changes quickly. Creating a great gallery doesn’t need a lot of effort. But, it can improve your site immensely.
Someone said that impression is everything. I strongly disagree, but if you don’t make a good impression, you won’t be able to move on to more important and essential aspects of your business. So, don’t hesitate and get a gallery plugin. You have nothing to lose. You can install it or uninstall it in a minute. However, all great sites have amazing galleries, regardless if you run a small business or a large company. But, either way, you can have a great professional looking gallery yourself.