Are you looking for a WordPress photo gallery plugin for your site? Tired of going through thousands of WordPress gallery plugins to see which one is the best? That’s why we did the research for you. In this article, we will compare the top 3 WordPress photo gallery plugins based on their speed, performance, ease of use, and over all features. The goal is to find out which is the best WordPress photo gallery plugin.
Many WordPress users create photo galleries at one point or another. That’s why WordPress comes with a built-in gallery feature. However, the default gallery lacks functionality and aesthetic appeal that most users want. That’s why we’re often asked which is the best WordPress gallery plugin. In this article, we will try to answer that question by comparing the best WordPress gallery plugins.
Choosing the right WordPress photo gallery plugin can not only improve the visual appeal of your photo galleries, but it also improves the overall user experience on your site.
What is Wrong With Most WordPress Photo Gallery Plugins?
The biggest problem with most WordPress gallery plugins is that they’re slow. If it is not well-coded, then a gallery can significantly slow down your website even if you have good WordPress hosting.
The other problem with WordPress gallery plugins is ease of use. Most of them are bloated with features and are overly complicated for beginners to get started with. Too many features does not always mean it’s a good product.
Last but not least, you want to make sure that your WordPress gallery plugin is responsive. A lot of them are not.
A perfect WordPress gallery plugin should be fast, easy to use, and have all the necessary features that you need to create beautiful photo galleries (such as lightboxes, image navigation, albums, pagination, etc). This allows for great user experience and helps improve your SEO as well.
So how do you go through all the WordPress gallery plugins and check for all this? Well you don’t have to. We did the research for you and below are our results for the best WordPress photo gallery plugins.
Our Top Contenders for Best WordPress Photo Gallery Plugin
We have picked the most popular WordPress photo gallery plugins in the market. In our comparison, we will look for speed, features, ease of use, and reliability. Here are the top 3 WordPress gallery plugins that most experts recommend:
Let’s get started with our comparison. First category is speed.
Speed is crucial when you are choosing a WordPress photo gallery plugin. Not only does it affect SEO, but it also affects user experience on your site.
If you are using a gallery plugin for a portfolio or photography site, then you simply cannot afford to compromise on speed. We ran a test on the plugins using the same images without modifying any default settings. Below are our results:
As you can see in the above results, Envira Gallery came out as the fastest loading WordPress gallery plugin despite the fact that the page size was nearly double of NextGEN and Foo Gallery.
The reason why Enivra Gallery is the fastest is because it’s well coded and highly optimized for speed.
If you want a high performance fast WordPress site, then Envira is the photo gallery plugin for you.
Ease of Use
Creating image galleries is not as simple as uploading a single image to your posts. You need to choose layouts, select columns, add thumbnail sizes, choose lightbox and animations. Most beginners would find these things quite overwhelming. The goal here is to find a WordPress photo gallery plugin that is powerful and beginner friendly at the same time.
Envira Gallery follows and adheres to the WordPress coding standards and best practices. It provides a user interface that seamlessly blends into your WordPress admin area. Creating a new gallery is very similar to creating a new post in WordPress which makes it extremely beginner friendly.
When you create a gallery, you are immediately shown the shortcode that you can use to add the gallery in any WordPress post or page. Envira Gallery also adds a button right next to the media upload button above the post editor that you can use to quickly add any gallery or album in your post / page.
Aside from that Envira Gallery also shows you the template tag that you can use it in your WordPress templates. This comes particularly handy if you are developing a site for a client and want to include galleries straight into theme files.
Foo Gallery takes the similar approach as Envira Gallery. It makes it easier for you to create photo gallery using a simple user interface that looks and feels like WordPress.
Foo Gallery also adds a button on top of the post editor making it extremely simple for you to add galleries into any posts/pages.
Unlike Envira Gallery, Foo Gallery does not show the template tag to insert your galleries into theme files or templates.
NextGEN is a little different than our other two contenders. Instead of using the built in WordPress features, NextGEN brings its own user interface, database tables, and separate folders to store your images. This is why NextGEN user interface looks a bit complicated in WordPress.
It will take users sometime to understand how to upload images and create a gallery. They will also find it a bit difficult to add the gallery into post/page.
NextGEN adds a button into WordPress visual editor, but if you are using the text editor, then you will not see any button.
Winner: We found Envira Gallery to be the easiest out of all. Foo Gallery is a very close second. NextGEN is not quick and easy to use and we feel that users will struggle with it a bit in the beginning.
In order to create a beautiful photo gallery, you need functionality like lightboxes, full-screen mode, albums, pagination, navigation, slideshow, password protection, EXIF metadata, social media sharing, and more.
However it’s important to remember that too many features can slow down your site, so let’s take a look at how our contenders handle the balance in features and functionality.
Envira Gallery is built with a mobile first approach. This means that it is fully responsive out of the box.
It allows you to easily choose thumbnail sizes, animations, gallery layouts, add meta tags for your images all from the single user interface.
Apart from the built-in features, there are loads of features that you can add by installing addons such as: gallery templates, social sharing, videos, password protection, image protection, albums, slideshow, pinterest, deeplinking, fullscreen mode, image tags, and many more.
Foo Gallery comes with a great set of features. It is not mobile responsive out of the box, but you can select the responsive template to add a responsive photo gallery.
Another feature that we missed is the lightbox. You can install the free Foobox plugin to add lightbox functionality, but we felt that it should have been packaged with the core gallery plugin.
Foo Gallery also comes with extensions that you can install to add more features such as custom branding, cube effect, lightbox, and more.
NextGEN Gallery is the oldest of all three plugins, and it comes with an extensive list of features.
Many of the features that are available as addons in Envira and Foo, are available out of the box in NextGEN gallery. There are also pro and plus paid upgrades which provide additional features.
NextGEN is loaded with features, but many of these features require certain level of familiarity with the plugin. This requires spending time, reading documentation, and posting questions in support forums.
Winner NextGEN is a clear winner when it comes to total feature count. Foo Gallery has some essential features missing in the out-of-the-box experience. Envira Gallery comes with just the right balance of features and functionality combined with ease of use.
WordPress provides you the freedom to move your site from one web host to another and even to different competitors.
We need to see if you can easily import/export and backup your photo gallery data.
Envira stores all your photo galleries as custom post types in the WordPress database. It stores your media files using the default WordPress media location. This means if you backup your WordPress site, you will have all Envira Gallery data backedup.
Envira also allows you to import/export your individual galleries. This means that you can move a single gallery from one WordPress site to another.
When you move your WordPress site, Envira will automatically detect it and will show you an option to fix the migration.
All these features make Envira Gallery the most reliable photo gallery plugin for WordPress.
Similar to Envira, Foo Gallery also stores your galleries as custom post types in the WordPress database. If you backup your WordPress site, then you will have a Foo Gallery data backup as well.
However if you just want to export individual galleries, then there is no option for that because the plugin doesn’t come with an import / export feature.
NextGEN gallery does not come with import/export feature. Since it stores your data in separate database tables, this means you will need to configure your WordPress backup plugin to include those tables.
NextGEN also stores your images in a separate folder. If you want to create a backup for them, then you will need to download the folder separately to your computer.
Both Envira and FooGallery offers NextGen importers to make it easy for users to switch to their platform.
Winner Enivra Gallery offers the most comprehensive set of tools to import/export your photo galleries.
All three plugins have free versions available in the WordPress plugin directory. All three of them have paid upgrades available with more features. The pricing of your photo gallery plugin will depend on which plan you want to use for any of these plugins. You can choose a plan based on the features you need after trying the free versions.
Winner: No clear winners here – the pricing of products will vary based on what features you need and plan that you select.
Envira Gallery is the best WordPress photo gallery plugin. It is extremely fast, simple to use, packed with all the essential features, and is fully mobile responsive. Photo galleries created with Envira Gallery are stunningly beautiful and blazing fast at the same time.
Use our Envira Gallery coupon to get an extra 25% off their paid plans.
We hope this article answers the questions regarding the best WordPress photo gallery plugin in terms of performance and quality. Which is your favorite WordPress gallery plugin? Let us know by sending a tweet to @wpbeginner on Twitter.
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