At the heart of a stunning website gallery lies a brilliant WordPress gallery plugin. If displaying remarkable visuals on your site is your goal, you’ll need one too.
However, finding a perfect gallery plugin is not an easy task. There are 2000+ gallery plugins in the WordPress repository alone! Lucky for you, we have done the work for you. Our professionals have highlighted the top 4 WordPress gallery plugins around the web and compared their strengths and weaknesses.
Even more, you can get all the plugins listed below for free. If you need more advanced features, you can also buy their respective premium versions. Let’s get to know what to look for in a plugin.
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What to Look For in WordPress Gallery Plugins
Since there are so many choices out there, we have a few criteria that we should look into before picking up a WordPress gallery plugin.
1. Fast loading
Speed matters, simple as that. Both users and search engines love a fast loading website. Choosing a lightweight gallery plugin is therefore crucial for maintaining your site’s speed.
Moreover, images use your memory. If your current gallery plugin fails to optimize the images and gives a bulky page size to load, you are slowing down your site. Don’t fret, however, our choices have been known for their fast load times.
2. Easy to Use
We look into ease-of-use as a very important aspect of a gallery plugin. There’s a lot of work involved to process a photo. You need to set the standard size, choose the layout, and select the animations. Even more, your images may also come in different sizes and format, either vertical or horizontal.
The gallery settings can also prove overwhelming at times. An ideal gallery plugin should be easy to use and save you a great deal of time.
3. Regular updates
If your gallery plugin doesn’t have routine updates, you will find it hard to catch up with WordPress and your themes, which are updated regularly. All the plugins listed below have dedicated teams for this reason – updating the plugin whenever necessary.
When it comes to WordPress Gallery plugins, there are a lot of them out there. Different types of plugins range from minimalistic to more extravagant. Each of these choices come with their own unique features. One thing is certain, none of them are over bloated.
Take your time to find out what features you might want on your image gallery. So, you can pick the best plugin that suits your needs.
4 Best Free WordPress Gallery Plugins
Envira Gallery may sound familiar to you. This popular freemium plugin has more than 1,000,000+ downloads and a 96% satisfaction rating under its belt. Rich in features and having a beginner-friendly interface that is easy to use. Creating a stunning gallery using Envira takes little to no time.
Some key features in Envira Gallery are:
- Drag and Drop Builder: This feature is what makes Envira so easy to use. A professional-looking, beautiful gallery is only a few clicks away. No coding or design skills are required.
- Speed optimization: Envira is created with speed in mind. We can say that among the other WordPress gallery plugins, Envira has the fastest loading time.
- WooCommerce store integration: Envira integrates perfectly with WooCommerce. If you’re a photographer who sells stock photos on your website, you should pick Envira as your gallery plugin.
- Pre-built gallery templates: Envira comes with pre-determined gallery templates. If you don’t want to waste too much time modifying your gallery, this feature works best for you.
- Supersize Lightbox Images: By default, WordPress will resize your image and scale down the resolution if the size is bigger than the default setting. This feature will let you upload a big resolution image with full view window in your browser. No need to worry about reduced quality or loading speed. Envira will handle it.
The Envira free version is plenty powerful. Alas, trying their basic premium license for $29 might be a wise investment.
Its premium features allow you to add security options to your images such as watermarking, password protecting, and preventing visitors from downloading your images. Envira is totally an all-in-one solution for your gallery management needs.
Second on our list is a WordPress gallery plugin named NextGen Gallery. Since 2007, this plugin has empowered more than 1,000,000 sites around the web. As the oldest WordPress gallery plugin, NextGen Gallery offers countless features with deep functionality.
It might not look fancy at first glance. But, its minimalist interface is very beginner-friendly. The basic package comes with two default modes for displaying images: slideshow and thumbnail.
These two modes look simple, but they’re highly customizable. You can change the sizes, transition, timing, style, lightboxes effects, and more. Both modes also give optimal viewing experience for mobile users with their responsive design.
Upgrading to the pro version will unlock NextGen Gallery’s true power. Compared to other WordPress gallery plugins, NextGen Gallery’s premium version is the clear winner, thanks to its comprehensive features.
The premium version comes with various gallery style options such as pro masonry gallery, pro mosaic gallery, pro grid album, etc. You can also have image protection features and a WooCommerce integration module.
The pro version starts around at $79. Although you should carefully consider whether you need the additional features offered by the pro version. NextGen Gallery pro features might be an overkill for beginners. However, if you see yourself as a professional that makes money from images you sell on your website, NextGen should top your list.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use plugin with a fantastic gallery, Modula might be your best bet. It simply lets you build a beautiful gallery with just a few clicks.
Modula divides its gallery customization into two parts:
- Basic steps: this option lets you create a professional-looking grid gallery in no time. You only need to upload the images, resize each image to its optimum dimension, choose which images to highlight, and done – your gallery is ready to be published. In addition, Modula is the only WordPress gallery plugin that allows you to have a grid gallery with different image sizes.
- Advanced steps: you can customize your gallery’s style using many available features: lightbox options, hover effects, custom margins, and more. And you don’t need to buy the pro version to do this.
Some key features in Modula that you can enjoy for free are:
- Pick an image title automatically from the image metadata.
- Shuffle images every time a page is loaded. As a result, your visitors may see different image arrangements. The image size will be adjusted accordingly, so your gallery won’t look messy.
- Add social share buttons
- Add animation effects when the image is loaded
- Give a mouse effect when you hover over with your mouse
If you would love to have more effects and customizations, you can get the premium upgrades for a fair amount of $29. More hover effects and lightboxes are available. You can also add image tags so you can filter the similarly-tagged images.
As its drawback, this gallery plugin only works best for showcasing your image gallery with a stylish touch. If you want to integrate your gallery with WooCommerce or protect your image, other gallery plugins will suit you best.
Last but not least, we have FooGallery. Nothing beats FooGallery for its ease-of-use. Besides its drag and drop feature, the interface looks and feels familiar for most WordPress users. Creating an image gallery with FooGallery is as easy as adding a post or page from the WordPress visual editor.
Like Envira, FooGallery offers an extensive list of features that you can try for free, such as:
- Gutenberg support: Gutenberg and FooGallery is a perfect match. This combination will ease you to add FooGallery from Gutenberg’s block in a blink of an eye. Even more, you can also see the live preview of your existing gallery.
- Retina-ready thumbnail support: Retina ready means you will have a razor sharp images with vibrant colors. No more blurry images on your gallery. You will have stunning images that look great in various device sizes.
- NextGen importer tools: If you are a NextGen gallery user and feel that the plugin is too much, you can move to FooGallery effortlessly. Importing and exporting files with FooGallery is very easy.
- Custom CSS: FooGallery is both beginner and intermediate user-friendly. Developers can take further control over the gallery design by using custom CSS.
- Built-in albums: FooGallery also lets you have built-in albums for free. You can use this feature to group images in similar categories.
If you’re looking for a WordPress gallery plugin with rich features, FooGallery can be your alternative. While its free version already offers you a bunch of features, the pro version offers you more options: video galleries, more gallery templates, infinite scroll, image tags, and more. FooGallery offers a plan that is $49 for one website.
Unfortunately, the more advanced features in the free version are not included in the getgo. You need additional plugin extensions to get those features. Too many extensions might slow down your site. Moreover, FooGallery should not be in your consideration if you need WooCommerce integration.
Among so many choices, we have thoroughly compared the top 4 best free WordPress gallery plugins for you. Here’s our short summary:
- Envira Gallery: Best for beginners and professionals who want to sell images from their stock images. When it comes to loading speed, this is the fastest one.
- NextGen Gallery: While the free version is simple enough for beginners, the pro version supports professionals to display the gallery with more styles. The pro version is also the richest in features.
- Modula: If you need a gallery plugin with the combination of beauty and ease-of-use, nothing else beats Modula. It is also the best plugin to showcase your images in a grid style.
- FooGallery: A gallery plugin for beginners and developers. This should be your top choice if you want to get rich features, but spend less or even no money.
All of the 4 WordPress gallery plugins we mentioned have their own strengths and drawbacks. Now, take a closer look at your website and identify which plugin suits you the best. Ready to choose?