If you also wonder why most of the galleries for WordPress are so ugly, inconvenient and expensive, and you want to find the best free gallery for posting your photos, videos or portfolio in a minimalistic and convenient format with the ability to align photos by width or height (justify gallery), flipping images, do not have silly restrictions on the number of galleries and photos… then you have come to the right place. As an artist, I’ve been thinking about making my own website with my artwork for a long time. I’ve been making sites on wordpress for quite some time now, but I had no idea that finding the right gallery would be so difficult.
To begin with, I took the simple way and decided to choose the most popular gallery with high ratings, it was NextGEN Gallery (By Imagely). About this plugin, probably the most articles on the Internet and reviews, there are very positive. The gallery has been installed almost a million times and is frequently updated. Everything seems to be fine and great. I also downloaded it, activated it and the first thing I encountered was a complete lack of understanding of what to do. The gallery interface is completely unintuitive. It took me a long time to figure out what to do. This, of course, is nothing compared to the problems I encountered next. But already at this point I started to dislike Nextgen Gallery a little bit.
To help you understand my tasks in creating a gallery on the site, I will briefly describe them:
- As an artist on the site I place my paintings in high resolution, it is important to me that the gallery was stylish and beautiful;
- I want a fast gallery and the ability to upload many images at once, the ability to change the order of images easily and quickly;
- I need a gallery that is simple and easy to use with high ratings and frequent updates;
- I’m not a commercial project, so I needed a gallery with powerful free functionality;
- The ability to align images by width and height and mobile adaptability so that images can be conveniently viewed not only from a computer, but also on a tablet/mobile phone;
- Gallery without additional extensions that need to be installed as separate plugins.
After a few weeks of use, I had to give up NextGEN Gallery for the following critical reasons for me:
- This gallery turned out to be very commercialized, you have to pay quite a lot of money for every sneeze;
- The gallery, which is bearable on the computer, doesn’t allow you to watch the pictures on your cell phone in a big size (the pictures are not zoomed in and out);
- There is no free possibility to make a free gallery with alignment of pictures of different sizes into a nice pattern (as I eventually did on my site http://9go.ru/kartiny-maslom-oil-paintings/ );
- The images that you upload to the NextGEN Gallery are not displayed in Media (the standard library of media files) but are uploaded to a separate folder that is accessible only via ftp;
- The general feeling of the gallery is that it is outdated and/or intentionally cut down so that you buy the full functionality for a lot of money.
As soon as I installed NextGEN Gallery, spent a lot of time to understand and add my images there, I began to receive so many comments on the appearance of the gallery that even then I began to have doubts about the right choice. The gallery looked unpretentious, rustic and indecipherable. It was not easy to use, and the functionality was so limited that I seriously thought about buying the full version at the crazy price of $200 or $300. I came to consult with Igroglaz; he analyzed NextGEN Gallery and came to the same conclusions – it turned out that it was impossible for us to use the full free version. So the question arose as to what to do – to buy this expensive something (because I had already spent so much effort to add there many images and got used to the interface a little) or to find a better gallery.
I was in the forefront of our search operation, or rather, sat down at the computer, and I sat next to him in a chair with a cup of warm water. And we began to open all the galleries and study their functionality, watch demos, read reviews, compare prices. Guys, we spent half an evening looking for a gallery that would meet our needs. During that time we were stunned by gallery prices, poor functionality, and crooked interfaces. It seems like wordpress is the leader in free cms for websites, positioned as an open platform for everyone, has been around for many years. There are a lot of cool free plugins for wordpress, so why is there such a serious problem with galleries? It turns out that finding a decent free gallery is a real challenge. Many galleries only position themselves as free, but you essentially can’t do anything without paying a couple hundred dollars, otherwise your gallery will look like a site from the 90s with crooked markup.
The result of our search and analysis was a very cool choice – we found the best in our opinion gallery for WordPress, it’s Final Tiles Grid Gallery – Image Gallery (by Green Tree Labs). This gallery is very easy to use, you put it in and immediately understand how it works. The gallery gives you two basic options for placing images: 1) one large image and smaller ones at the bottom, 2) Smaller images aligned across the width in a nice grid where each image can be enlarged and conveniently flipped left and right. We liked the Final Tiles Grid gallery as soon as we found it in the middle of the list. Updates are released regularly and the plugin has over 30,000 installations.
Most of all we liked that the author of the plugin is a living person, who leads his social networks and professionally creates visual plugins for wordpress, lives in Italy. You can see that the gallery is made with love, there are not any jambs inside, everything is smooth and neat. The gallery is formed automatically, you just choose the initial parameters, create a gallery and upload photos in bulk. You can change the size of any image and their order in two clicks. The appearance of this free gallery impressed us more than many paid analogues. Here you don’t have to pay for the most essential things and there are a lot of additional settings (captions, flip effect, grid type, etc.).
When you hover over an image, it overlaps with a dark background that displays captions that you can change. This effect works on both computers and mobile devices. It is possible to adjust the number of columns to be displayed. If you leave the default settings, then on a mobile device all the pictures are lined up in two columns with alignment. Regardless of the size of the images (they can all be different sizes), the gallery looks nice and aligned. Despite the fact that there is no option from NextGEN Gallery to export images to Final Tiles Grid Gallery – Image Gallery (importing from external sources other than Media is not available in the free version). Even though I had to start from scratch, I still switched to Final Tiles Grid Gallery and haven’t regretted a second.