Best WordPress Image Gallery Plugin

best-wp-gallery-plugins-pinPhotos and images are key components in visual content marketing.  Images help break up the monotony of textual content, keep the reader engaged by reinforcing the written text.  Despite the fact that WordPress has a built in gallery, many 3rd party plugins are fantastic alternatives.  They offer features beyond the standard “vanilla” gallery that create eye catching galleries.  And standing out amongst the hundreds or thousands of websites on the Internet is a really good thing.  That reason alone is incentive to find the best WordPress Image Gallery Plugin that fit your needs and website.

Which is best: Gallery or Portfolio?

One question then is how to best display graphics to attract your perfect audience;  that is whether to use a gallery or portfolio. Technically, gallery is just a collection of images where a portfolio could be a collection images, illustrations, blog articles or anything you want to showcase.  So a portfolio technically is more versatile but when looking for a useful plugin, many “gallery” plugins actually perform in a portfolio way.  Those WordPress image gallery plugins are flexible enough to showcase more than just images.

In fact, the best WordPress image gallery plugins covered here provide image lightbox, customizable image sizes, various layouts and handle media (images, video), posts or pages.   That makes these image gallery plugins more powerful than the built in WordPress gallery feature and better than the corresponding portfolio.  In fact, although the plugins might be advertised as image gallery plugins; they really provide a lot of “portfolio” capabilities.  Features in addition to customizing text, font size, overlays and color can mean the difference between plain thumbnail image collections and eye-catching visual content.

For the purposes of this review, I’m going to ignore the technical difference between “gallery” and “portfolio”;  the plugins listed here can do both.  The capabilities of going beyond just image gallery collections is what makes these plugins really versatile.

While some plugins come in a free version with basic thumbnail and minimal size modification, going with the upgrade results in the better features.  Most pro versions of the plugins allow the administrator using them to really make their content look professional and easy to use.  One savy way to display the same content is by creating “portfolio” viewed in pages, posts or in a sidebar widget..

Other Factors To Consider When Selecting A Plugin

Ease of use and optimization are other factors to consider when determining what plugin to use to manage media or written content within WP.  The better ones handle multiple image sizes and formats while maintaining stylish gallery and portfolio layouts.  CSS and Javascript minimization and caching is generally handled by WP plugins and techniques.


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Both minimization and caching are critical to maintaining the speed and responsiveness of WP sites, so it’s important to test any gallery or portfolio plugin while using these techniques to prevent breaking the plugin and resultant galleries.  Most minimization and caching plugins have configurations that allow for file and folder exceptions to allow gallery and portfolio plugins that don’t play well with minimization or caching techniques.

As a result of testing gallery plugins for useful features in addition to working with minimization and catching, here 4 of the best WordPress image gallery plugin I’ve found.

Content Views Pro

content views pro

Love this plugin.  The paid version is well worth the nice features it offers.  Instal the free version and then upload and activate the premium.  It’s intuitive to use and previews what the gallery will look like before use.  One powerful feature is the ability to create “views” or “galleries” of media, featured post images, or pages.   That makes it useful to create media galleries of images, portfolio collections of posts like a mini blog layout on a page, or in sidebar widget.   Resizing is instantaneous;  styling is super easy.  This plugin is particularly good with posts;  show the title, featured image and a short except or just the image.   It allow for minimization and caching;  plus support is very responsive.

Envira Gallery

 

Another really robust feature rich plugin thats super easy to use.  One of the first I ever used and still recommend today.  On the downside, the free version is bit limited, but the paid version has lots of easy customizable features.  Drag and drop to rearrange images, a lightbox, change sizes, titles etc.  The paid version has lots of cool add-ons like watermarking, zoom, social media, slideshows, etc.  It’s easy to use and many options are simply set by selecting a checkbox or dropdown.  Envira support is great;  this plugin has been around for quite sometime and continues to be a popular choice.

Essential Grid

essential-grid

 

Another super versatile plugin at an incredibly reasonable price for all of the customization it offers.  Probably not as easy to use as either ContentViews or Envira, but the galleries and portfolios that can be created with this are stunning.  Create masonry, Pinterest or standard portfolios simply by selecting from a dozen or more templates.  The plugin optimizes the portfolios and response time to load images is quick and clean.    Support is also very responsive.   Video and documentation are available for those who want to super customize their portfolios for eye catching results.

The Post Grid

Intuitive and easy to use.   Support is responsive.  I tested this plugin but haven’t extensively used it as much as the others.  However, for the novice this plugin is a great choice and the results look extremely professional.   The Pro version has 55 layouts, popups and customizable image sizes and more.  Plus it manages layouts for desktop, tablets and mobile devices keeping images looking great on any device.

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