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To enthrall website visitors with your photos, you need a WordPress gallery plugin that will put them on center stage. We’ve tested five of the most popular and highest-rated plugins to see how they strike a balance between aesthetics and ease of use. Out of the five, we’ve found that Envira Gallery is the best for most because it has a wide range of features to help anyone create stunning galleries, regardless of experience level. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a newbie blogger, Envira Gallery has the right tools you need to showcase a snazzy photo collection in no time.
The Best WordPress Gallery Plugin for Most
Envira Gallery is the Swiss Army knife of WordPress gallery plugins. It doesn’t matter what budget or skill level you have, Envira Gallery will meet you where you are so you can create remarkable galleries quickly, anytime.
It has a free version to give simple websites an uncomplicated way of showcasing their photos. Premium plans, on the other hand, bolsters the gallery’s functionality. In particular, the Pro and Lifetime plans have the ecommerce functionality that offers a secure way of selling photos through the gallery.
But what makes Envira Gallery excel is the way it simplifies the process of creating galleries for everyone. It comes with its own Gutenberg block so inserting galleries in a post or a page is only a few clicks away. No coding experience is required. For tech-savvy users, Envira Gallery also offers custom codes to help them create personalized galleries that blend well with their current WordPress theme.
The Best WordPress Gallery Plugin Options to Consider
- Envira Gallery – The Best for Most
- NextGen Gallery – The Best for Professional Photographers
- Modula – The Best for Custom Grid Galleries
- Photo Gallery by 10Web – The Best for Mixed Media Galleries
- FooGallery – The Best for Agencies and Developers
When It Makes Sense to Invest Into WordPress Gallery Plugins
There are two ways you can showcase visual elements on your website. Either use WordPress’s built-in image gallery or install a plugin that boasts more functionality.
The built-in gallery is stripped-down at best. The upside is there’s no plugin to contend with as the gallery can be added straight from the Gutenberg block editor. Uploading the images is a breeze, but don’t expect anything fancy. The style looks generic and there’s no way to organize multiple galleries according to tags, topics, or albums.
Worse, replication is impossible so if you want to add the same image gallery to a different post, you have to recreate it. You can’t also link the images to anything except for a media file or attachment page.
So unless you’re a casual blogger who doesn’t need anything fancy, it’s easy to outgrow the simplicity of WordPress’s built-in gallery.
There are also times when the built-in photo gallery may turn out to be incompatible with your WordPress theme. Or maybe you’re looking for a more user-friendly tool to show your portfolio, sell pictures, or promote your products. Whatever the case, a WordPress gallery plugin can come in handy.
If you’re a photographer or a creative professional, the basic WordPress image gallery is no longer an option. You want to earn from your works so a gallery plugin with robust ecommerce functionality and heavy-duty image management features is essential.
Bloggers and artists who want to entice their visitors with stunning images will likewise benefit from gallery plugins. There are tons of customization options to breathe life into your galleries like animation and lightbox. Even if you’re not selling photos, creating these professional-looking galleries can help you leave a good first impression.
#1 – Envira Gallery — The Best for Most
Do you want to create professional-looking galleries without touching a line of code? With Envira Gallery, you can do that in minutes, thanks to its drag-and-drop builder.
Just like WordPress’s built-in image gallery, Envira’s is integrated with the Gutenberg block editor. Every time you want to add a gallery to your post or page, all you have to do is add a block and select Envira Gallery. After uploading the photos, you can rearrange them, configure the settings, and you have yourself a stunning visual gallery.
Envira Gallery is responsive and mobile-friendly so anyone checking your photos can appreciate them regardless of the device they use. Beginners will love its intuitive interface that blends well with the WordPress backend. Any change you want to apply is just a few clicks away inside the interface. No complicated coding required.
Advanced users, on the other hand, can use the template tag to easily incorporate the gallery into any WordPress theme they’re developing.
Envira Gallery is a freemium plugin. The free version called Envira Gallery Lite has the basic functionality you need right out of the box. The gallery only shows one column and the advanced customization options are disabled. Hence, the result leaves a lot to be desired.
However, the free plugin is already packed with great features like lightbox. This allows users to expand any photo they click without leaving the current page.
Once you upgrade to the premium version, more features are available to make your image gallery look like it’s made by a developer. For instance, premium users not only have access to lightbox but also to thumbnails, giving them an optimal preview of the photos included in the gallery.
Higher plans are even capable of turning your photo gallery into a cash-making machine. You can integrate WooCommerce to start selling pictures and enable image proofing so your customers can choose the size and quantity of the photos they want to order. If you’re an event photographer, you can also password-protect your gallery so only your clients have access to their own pictures.
Other interesting features in the premium plans include:
- Social Sharing
- Image Deep Linking
- Video Galleries
- Lightroom Integration
- Instagram Integration
Envira Gallery’s premium plans have something for everyone. Pricing varies depending on the number of sites you have and how many features you want to add. The Basic plan can add a gallery to one site for $29/year. The highest-tier plan, Lifetime, is perfect for professional users as the license can be used in unlimited sites for $299/year.
So whether you’re a blogger who wants to display your best works or a professional photographer selling hundreds of photos, Envira Gallery has the versatility to meet your needs.
#2 – NextGen Gallery — The Best for Professional Photographers
When your livelihood is at stake, you can’t afford to invest in a gallery plugin that doesn’t deliver. This is why heavy-duty users like visual artists, photographers, and imaging professionals only trust NextGen Gallery.
Unlike other WordPress gallery plugins, NextGen has its own media library. So instead of uploading thousands of images into WordPress, you will keep it instead in NextGen’s own directory infrastructure. You can configure this library to make your photos organized unlike pictures in WordPress media libraries that are often all over the place.
NextGen also stands out for having its own interface. It may require a little bit of a learning curve but the tradeoff is you’ll get a robust image management system. This interface allows you to upload photos by batch, rearrange these photos, edit thumbnails, and organize galleries into albums all in one place.
Inserting photo galleries into posts or pages has never been easier with NextGen Gallery. It has its own Gutenberg block so galleries can be set up with a simple drag-and-drop mechanism.
NextGen has a free plugin but the features are extremely limited. It only offers three gallery styles, namely: thumbnail, slideshow, and imagebrowser. If you want to seriously make money with your photographs, then you must consider upgrading to a premium plan.
Under paid plans, you not only get access to more gallery style choices but also to a powerful ecommerce functionality. NextGen Pro can add an ecommerce system to your gallery so you can sell your works and receive payments through PayPal, Stripe, or checks. It’s also the only plugin that can ship printed photos directly to your customers through an automated print lab fulfillment. This way, you can easily distribute photos to your fans without printing them yourself.
Other premium features that can turbocharge your photography business include:
- Automated Tax Calculations
- Image Proofing
- Image Protection
- Secure Original Backups
- Image Deep Linking
Paid plans start at $21/year for one website. The more websites you have and the more features you want to have access to, the pricier NextGen Gallery gets. Professional power users who create galleries for a living can enjoy all features with Lifetime, the most expensive plan that only requires a one-time payment of $280. Get started with NextGen Gallery today.
#3 – Modula — The Best for Custom Grid Galleries
Sick and tired of your photos getting awkwardly cropped out when uploaded to your gallery? With Modula, you regain control of the pictures and have a say in how they will turn out.
The Modula gallery and all the pictures in it are customizable. Is the gallery too small or too big? Simply adjust its height and width according to your liking. Do you want to emphasize a photo? With Modula’s custom grid functionality, you can resize any picture to make it stand out or smaller than the rest.
The flexibility of Modula gives you the freedom to display the pictures exactly the way you want them to be shown.
Best of all, the images you add to Modula are responsive so they will fit the screen regardless of the device you use.
Since the free plugin is limiting, you will be compelled to upgrade to premium plans. The entry-level plan called Starter costs $39 and is suitable for single sites. This plan comes with a lightbox to give visitors the best viewing experience. The Starter also enables users to add video to their galleries by simply entering the video URL. A combination of video and photos in the gallery makes the experience much more engaging.
From Starter, the user can upgrade to the Trio plan which can add galleries to up to three sites. This plan also comes with additional features like password protection and right-click protection that prohibit unauthorized use of gallery photos.
The two most expensive plans are Business and Agency which cost $99 and $149, respectively. The Business plan supports up to five sites while the Agency plan can accommodate up to 99 sites.
You can sign up for any of the paid plans and use Modula for 14 days. If it turns out to be the wrong plugin for you, it’s easy to cancel anytime and get your money back.
#4 – Photo Gallery by 10Web — The Best for Mixed Media Galleries
Photo Gallery by 10Web is touted as the world’s leading photo gallery plugin with over 12 million downloads.
Its galleries are responsive and mobile-friendly like those of other plugins. However, what makes it different is it supports both videos and images in its galleries even on the free version. Other plugins only offer full video support in their premium plans.
To add videos to the gallery, all you need to do is copy the URL of a video from YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, or Dailymotion. Videos are a great way to break the monotony so having a mixed media gallery can give your visitors a compelling reason to stick around.
To have a breathtaking view of the galleries, there are multiple styles or formats to choose from. The free version of the plugin can only provide five gallery views including slideshow, thumbnail, and image browser. The premium version, on the other hand, offers more intricate gallery styles like mosaic and masonry.
Other features included in the free version of the plugin are watermarking and a simple lightbox effect. Once you upgrade to premium, this same lightbox comes with slideshow effects so your visitors can expand their selected photo and preview the entire collection in one fell swoop.
For more functionality, you can upgrade to the premium plans starting at the Basic level for only $30 for 6 months. This plan is perfect for a single site and comes with 15 lightbox effects, watermarking to protect your images from theft, and Instagram integration. Next in line is the Pro plan that costs $60 for 6 months. It has all the features of the previous plan with the addition of the company’s very own image optimization and backup services.
Photo Gallery by 10Web also offers a Plugin Bundle worth $100 for 6 months and is good for up to 30 websites. In addition to all the features in the Pro plan, this bundle also includes 15 premium plugins and the export/import function for seamless transfers of your photo galleries.
#5 – FooGallery — The Best for Agencies and Developers
FooGallery ticks all the boxes for a developer-friendly WordPress gallery plugin. Its framework is designed so that different functionality is separated out into different sections of the codebase. The plugin is also lightweight, making it easy to configure by developers who want to incorporate it into their clients’ website themes.
If you’re looking for a responsive, retina-ready plugin that can help you set up an image gallery in minutes, look no further than FooGallery. It comes with an interface that complements that of WordPress so users don’t have to deal with any learning curve. Inserting photo galleries in posts or pages is likewise easy as FooGallery has its own Gutenberg block.
Looking for more functionality? Then consider upgrading to the premium plans to enjoy the following features:
- Video Gallery
- Infinite Scroll
- Categories and Tags for Images
- Hover Effects
- Variety of Gallery Templates, including Polaroid
Paid plans start at Personal which costs $59/year. This basic plan allows you to insert a photo gallery into one site. If you’re going to insert galleries to up to five websites, the Professional plan has your back for $109/year.
Finally, agencies can save a lot of money by upgrading to the Business plan for $199/year. This plan can insert stunning photo galleries to up to 25 websites. Other plugins on this list can also be used for multiple sites, but for a steeper price. For agencies who are cutting on expenses, FooGallery is definitely a steal.
Methodology for Choosing the Best WordPress Gallery Plugins
Looking for a WordPress gallery plugin? With hundreds of options to choose from, it’s easy to end up with one that doesn’t fit the bill. Hence, we’ve developed a methodology to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and pick one that perfectly aligns with your needs.
Plugins are resource hogs by design. However, some plugins are more lightweight than others. This is exactly what you need to complete tasks as resource-heavy as uploading multiple photos at the same time.
To check a WordPress gallery plugin’s effect on your site loading time, you have to conduct a website speed test before and after installing it. If the plugin is dragging your site speed down, look for a faster alternative. And if an alternative is not in sight, you have to weigh the pros and cons of keeping the plugin.
A lightweight gallery plugin can benefit your site in two ways. First, faster site performance is good for SEO. There are premium plugins that are also equipped with a lazy loading feature which delays the loading of images until they appear on the visitor’s screen. It means these plugins are not only optimized to consume fewer resources, but they’re also capable of optimizing images so they can perform just as well as the plugins that hold them.
Lastly, you want to give a seamless experience to every visitor checking out your image gallery. A slow plugin that drives away your visitors defeats the purpose of using a photo gallery plugin in the first place.
Ease of Use
Adding a photo gallery in WordPress shouldn’t require a crash course in coding. Given the built-in WordPress gallery is incorporated in the Gutenberg block editor, you have to look for plugins that can also do the same.
Fortunately, there are WordPress gallery plugins provided with the Gutenberg module. This means they’re easily integrated with the block editor and adding a gallery to your post or page is just one drag and drop away. You don’t have to add a shortcode or a custom code unless you prefer the Classic WordPress editor.
Inserting the gallery as a Gutenberg block also means you’re seeing it exactly as how it will appear in the live site. This what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSWYG) mechanism of the Gutenberg editor eliminates unnecessary back-and-forths, making the process of creating image galleries more straightforward than ever.
Flexibility is what sets WordPress gallery plugins apart from their built-in counterpart. There must be plenty of customization options both in the free and premium version, allowing users to produce the exact gallery they have in mind.
The plugin must offer gallery formats and styles so users can pick one that is compatible with their design aesthetics. The classic grid design, for example, contains rows of equally-sized photos that can display all of your best works or products on one page. Masonry gallery, on the other hand, puts images of different orientations flawlessly together so you won’t have to crop anything. There are also tiled, mosaic, and filmstrip types of galleries that can add a creative twist to the way you present images.
There are also features that can take image browsing to the next level. The pictures are your marketing campaign’s most potent tool so the plugin must be capable of presenting them in a way that optimizes the viewing experience. The lightbox feature, for instance, allows users to enlarge photos on the same page so they won’t have to view them on separate windows. Some plugins also allow you to add animation effects like sliding or rotation so the photos can grab the viewer’s attention from the get-go.
Advanced users looking for more functionality must be able to add one through CSS. Plugins can offer custom codes so anyone can personalize the gallery’s design, elements, and fonts according to the branding of the website where the gallery will be displayed.
If you’re a photographer, the last thing you want is to see your creative outputs get stolen and distributed all over the internet without your permission. Premium WordPress gallery plugins can offer protection from image theft in three ways:
- Disable the random visitor’s ability to right-click your photos so unauthorized users won’t be able to download them
- Activate watermark extension to make sure wherever your photos end up, your branding will always remain with them.
- Password-protect your image gallery. This is ideal for event photographers who want to make sure access to photos is only limited to clients who own them.
Just because the photo gallery is available online doesn’t mean anyone can steal them without permission. With plugins that come with these security features, you can promote your products, photographs, portfolio, or menu with unrivaled peace of mind.
A photo gallery is the centerpiece of every successful photography business. If your enterprise is built around selling photographs online, you need a reliable gallery plugin with ecommerce functionality.
Look for one that is capable of streamlining the way you sell pictures. Earning money from photos is easy if you have payment gateways like Paypal or Stripe already in place. Some premium gallery plugins are also equipped with tools to send coupons to your loyal customers or generate sales tax with every purchase.
If you cater to customers who want printed copies of photographs delivered to their doorsteps, premium gallery plugins also offer print lab fulfillment so a partner printer can print the photos for you. This way, you can focus on selling your products and just outsource the more costly and time-draining task of printing photos.
It takes seconds to capture your visitor’s attention and another second to lose it. If your WordPress gallery plugin has lackluster features, chances are your photos will never reach their full potential.
To help unleash the beauty of your photographs, we’ve reviewed five of the highest-rated gallery plugins to see if they deliver. We’ve found that Envira Gallery is the best for most users for its wide range of pricing options. More importantly, its features blend simplicity and functionality together so users ranging from beginner bloggers to ecommerce pros can set up a beautiful gallery with ease.
However, your needs will dictate what plugin you’ll end up using. For best results follow our methodology above and use it as a checklist in determining whether a plugin is worth a try.