User experience is everything nowadays. Few people like boring websites with little or no thought put into visual appeal or user engagement. But something that does thrill everyone is attractive sites with a level of interactivity. Even a simple slider of images could be enough to make your site stand out from your competitors.
This article discusses some of the best WordPress slider plugins currently available in 2021, plus some of the more unusual ones. All of them will help take your site to a new level and give it more sex appeal than ever before.
What Are Slider Plugins?
Slider plugins are a great way of enhancing the look of your WordPress site while adding a level of interactivity, both of which enhance user experience. Sliders are a means of highlighting content on your pages through images, reviews, videos, logos, and the like embedded into slideshows. These slideshows can automatically scroll through the content, and many plugins also allow users to manipulate them manually.
Things to Look For When Choosing a Slider Plugin
The choice of WordPress slider plugins available is extensive, with each offering a different set of features. That makes choosing the right one for you a little more challenging. To help you, below is a list of criteria you should keep in mind when trying to decide:
Virtually everyone uses mobile devices nowadays, even more than desktop or laptop machines. As such, the slider you choose should adapt itself automatically to whatever device type visitors to your site happen to be using at the time.
The downside of sliders is that they can slow your site down, partly because speed-sapping images and videos are involved and partly because anything which involves movement on a site needs code to run to achieve it. Therefore, try to choose plugins that are lightweight code-wise, and avoid taking ones that are laden with features you won’t ever use.
We also recommend image lazy loading if available, as that loads images only when visitors need to see them, rather than all loading in one go.
Data-wise, thumbnails are much smaller than full-sized images. Therefore, they take less time to load and do not slow things down as much as full-sized images.
Allows you to load content directly from posts (for example, featured images, title, excerpts, etc.), WordPress galleries, or even external sources such as Flickr.
You might wish to have videos in your sliders, and not all plugins can handle those. Therefore, be sure to check that the one you have your eye on is suitable for videos and images.
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These are simply the way each consecutive image appears in the slideshow. The simplest transition is where each image just appears immediately after the previous one. However, many plugins offer a variety of transition effects, such as fade-in/out, which can make your site look extra stylish.
Our Suggestions for the Best WordPress Slider Plugins
We will now dive straight into our suggested plugins to add sliders to your website. Of course, there are many others available in the marketplace, but we have tried to include something for everyone.
Smart Slider 3
Smart Slider 3 is a freemium plugin with a massive following: 800k active downloads from WordPress alone, where it also has an impressive 4.9/5.0 user rating.
This intuitive plugin allows you to create appealing sliders that add substantial visual impact to your website. Furthermore, it is fully responsive regardless of what devices your visitors happen to be using, and SEO optimization broadens the chances of your site ranking well in Google, Bing, etc.
In its free form, Smart Slider 3 comes bundled with the following features:
- Drag and drop editor
- Full-width and boxed layouts
- Navigation via touch swipe, scroll, or keyboard
- Two slider types and six layers
- 14 slider templates
- Create slides from images, posts, YouTube, Vimeo
- Slide background and switching animations
- Slider controls (arrow, bullet, autoplay, bar, thumbnail, shadow)
- Layers (image, heading, text, button, Vimeo, YouTube)
- Layer snap in the visual slide editor
- Configurable autoplay timing
- Adaptive layer font sizing
- Slide thumbnail images
- Device responsive with custom breakpoints and hide layers on specific devices
- Live slider preview
- Compatible with WordPress Multisite
- Slider import and export
- Translation ready (currently 12 languages supported)
If you crave even more functionality, a one-time payment of between €44 and €223 (depending on how many domains you wish to cover) upgrades you to the Pro version. Pro adds lots of other useful extras, including:
- Four project types
- 180+ templates and 24 layers
- Lazy loading
- Background video
- WebP Support
- Image size optimization
- Asset preload
- Layer and text animation
- Parallax, Ken Burns and particle effects
- Morph and distortion animations
- Thirty-two dynamic sources such as WordPress posts, Facebook, RSS, Twitter, etc.
- YouTube compatible
- Showcase WooCommerce items
- Lifetime updates and support
- 14-day moneyback guarantee
We think the free version of Smart Slider 3 would be a great starting point for many people who want to add a slider to their site but are unsure which plugin to choose. Even the Pro version offers excellent value for money, given the extra functionality it brings to the table.
WOW Slider is a fantastic plugin that offers lots of impressive transition effects that will add masses of visual impact to your site. Setup is straightforward, and the developer claims it is possible to create a slider in as little as seven seconds.
WOW Slider has an impressive array of features in its repertoire, including:
- Mobile responsive
- Drag and drop interface
- Customizable slideshow parameters
- Lightweight coding structure
- Touchscreen gestures such as swipe
- Live preview
- ‘Insert-to-page’ wizard for placing the slideshow where you want it without needing HTML slider code
- Compatible with all browsers
- Can work with JS or CSS (ideal where JS is disabled or not supported)
- Wide range of integrated slider templates and transition effects
- Full-width slider
- Video compatible
- Lazy loading
- Multilanguage interface (38 languages currently)
- Import images from Flickr, Picasa, or Photobucket
- Share sliders to Facebook
- Automatic image sizing and cropping
- Background music option
WOW Slider is free for non-commercial, non-profit sites. That means, for most of us, a commercial license is necessary. For a single domain, those cost $69, but you can get unlimited domain usage for an extra ten bucks. Those prices include a year of updates and support, too. That’s rather good value, in our opinion.
Despite being completely free, Slider Pro is a feature-rich, helpful plugin for adding attractive image sliders with various transition effects and animations to your WordPress site. What’s more, it is fully responsive with touch-swipe navigation, so you don’t need to worry about the sliders not working on specific devices.
Key features of Slider Pro include:
- Variety of animations (CSS3 transitions, animated layers, fade effect, etc.)
- Several layout options (carousel, infinite scrolling, full page/full-width window, etc.)
- Lazy loading
- Conditional images for different screen sizes
- Alternative image sources for Retina screens
- Thumbnail or keyboard navigation, plus deep linking to slides in sliders elsewhere on the site
- Powerful API
- Video compatible
- Slider is viewable in full-screen mode
- Lightbox support, e.g., Fancybox
- Dynamic content
- Automatic caching of sliders for faster loading
- Preview before publishing
- Import and export sliders
- Custom CSS, JS, and hooks for developers
That’s an excellent list of features for a completely free plugin. Slider Pro has over 6k active downloads and scores 5.0/5.0 with users in the WordPress plugin directory.
WP Logo Showcase Responsive Slider and Carousel
WP Logo Showcase Responsive Slider and Carousel (yeah, we agree, that’s quite a mouthful!) is somewhat different from the other plugins we have listed because it is purely for showcasing company logos and branding. That makes it perfect for applications like affiliate marketing sites that promote several brands or sports and charities wanting to draw attention to their sponsors.
In its free form, this freemium plugin includes the following features:
- Display unlimited logos in sliders
- Showcase logos according to category, including multiple sliders from different categories
- Add links (external or internal) to logos
- Display logos either with or without title
- Loopable sliders
- Configuration options include slide speed, autoplay interval, navigation, pagination, columns, number of logos, etc.
Additional features come with the premium version. Annoyingly, this is only available as part of a plugin bundle. This includes 39 utility plugins and six marketing tools, which sounds generous, but is irritating if you don’t need them. The bundle costs $149 per year or $199 for a lifetime and adds the following extra slider functions too:
- Shortcodes for logo slider/carousel, logo grid, logo filter, and logo showcase
- Built-in templates
- Support for Slider RTL
- Logos can be displayed categories-wise
- Visual Composer, Gutenberg, Elementor, Beaver, Divi, and SiteOrigin support
- Drag and drop logos into the desired order
- Custom CSS
- Multilanguage support
- Updates and support
- 14-day moneyback guarantee
We would prefer it if the developer offered the premium version as a standalone option. That said, you may find some of the bundle’s other plugins useful.
WP Logo Showcase Responsive Slider and Carousel scores 4.7/5.0 stars in the WordPress plugin directory, from where there have been 60k active downloads to date.
As the name indicates, Video Slider allows you to showcase videos in sliders embedded in pages and posts on your site. This is ideal if you are a YouTuber or run a company offering IPTV services.
Video Slider is a freemium plugin, and naturally, the free version does have limited features. That said, you do get:
- Device responsive with touch and keyboard navigation
- Add unlimited sliders, layers, and videos to posts and pages
- Add different sliders to different pages
- Videos can display a title, description, and link
- Rearrange video using drag and drop
- Supports full-width, full screen, or boxed layouts
- Various configuration and customization options
Two premium options are available. ‘Personal’ costs just $15 can cover up to three sites, while ‘Developer” is just five bucks more and covers unlimited domains. Both options add the following:
- 30 transition effects
- Slider layer animations
- Post video slider type
- Supports text, image HTML, and video layers
- Navigation thumbnail, arrow, and bullet styles
- Updates and support (six months with Personal and one year with Developer)
Video Slider has over 7k active downloads and a user score of 4.7/5.0.
The developer also offers an Image Slider plugin.
WP Google Review Slider
Adding legitimate customer reviews to your website is not only a great way of showing how good your product or services are, but it also creates trust in your brand. WP Google Review Slider is a plugin that grabs reviews of your business from Google and presents them attractively in sliders on your website for all to see. It is ideal for any company website, in particular restaurants, shops, or other B2C businesses.
The free version of this freemium plugin gives you the following features for no charge whatsoever:
- Present Google reviews in slider, grid, or list form
- Ability to hide reviews with low ratings or no comments
- Create multiple templates and embed them in posts, pages, and widget areas using shortcodes or widgets
- Configurable template display options (show/hide star rating and date, border radius, colors, number of reviews per row, etc.)
- Display reviews in date order or randomly
- Custom CSS
The Pro version – which costs from $29 per year or $99 lifetime – adds the following additional features:
- Slider controls (speed, duration, transition style, etc.)
- Customizable templates
- Grid views
- Review filters
- Charts and graphs of reviews
- Display the logo of the review source to enhance trust
- Add reviews from over 85 review sites
- Review Funnel to automatically capture reviews from 50+ sites
- Add all Google reviews (free version is limited to the five most helpful)
- Add a review summary as a Google Rich Snippet to show the star rating in Google search results
- Customer review forms in the front end with email notifications
- Autosync WooCommerce product reviews
- Support and updates
- Seven-day free trial
- 30-day moneyback guarantee
WP Google Review is an excellent option if you are looking for a simple way of integrating reviews from external trusted sources into your site. The free version has plenty of functionality but is limited to Google reviews, while the Pro version allows you to display ratings and comments from many other sources. It offers super value and trying it is risk-free thanks to the free trial and moneyback guarantee.
Over 20k active downloads of this plugin exist, and users have given it an impressive 4.8/5.0 stars.
Slide Anything does not limit the content of the sliders to just images, videos, or reviews. Instead, it allows you to create sliders containing any type of content you wish, whether text, photos, videos, HTML, or shortcodes.
Slide Anything uses the (free) Owl Carousel plugin and seeks to overcome the need for JQuery and PHP coding skills that plugin needs. That said, we feel it helps if you have some idea about CSS, JQuery, and PHP, so absolute beginners might want to consider some of the other plugins we have suggested instead.
The free version of Slide Anything bundles the following key features:
- Present Google reviews in slider, grid, or list form
- Device responsive, including touch and drag support
- Supports both modern and older browsers
- Lazy loading of images
- Infinite looping
- Various transition effects include slide, fade, zoom in/out, flip, rotate, bounce/roll-out, and slide down.
- Slide link feature
- Drag and drop slide reordering
Slide Anything Pro costs just $10 (once-only, not per year) per domain for the following additional features:
- Modal popups for each slide (image, video, HTML, or shortcode popups)
- Hero slider (the slider is 100% of the width/height of the visitor’s device)
- Thumbnail pagination (adds an area of small clickable thumb images, each representing a single slide)
- Showcase carousel
Slide Anything is a versatile slider plugin with over 100k active downloads in operation. Users have rated it 4.5/5.0 stars.
PickPlugins Product Slider for WooCommerce
If you run a WooCommerce store, this plugin will help you showcase your products more effectively. You can use it to promote your latest products, sale items, collections, and much more.
This versatile plugin is highly customizable, and even in its free form, offers some handy features, such as:
- Device responsive
- Add unlimited product sliders with a custom number of columns
- Various slider animation options include auto play, stop on hover, rewind, and loop, etc.
- Ribbons for sliders
- Option to hide out of stock items
- Display products by IDs
- Lazy loading
A Pro upgrade will cost between $19 and $119, depending on how many domains you have. Pro versions add:
- Sliders to showcase bestselling, top-rated, and related products (cross- and upsells)
- Recently viewed products (by customer) slider
- Product categories and tags
- Display by SKU
- Display featured products before others
- Advanced meta fields query
- Quantity field and add to cart button
- 7-day moneyback guarantee
For WooCommerce store owners, we think PickPlugins Product Slider is an excellent way of jazzing up your storefront and enhancing customer experience, particularly if you opt for the extra features of the Pro version. The plugin boasts 20k active downloads and an average user score of 4.5/5.0 stars in the WordPress plugin directory.
Your Questions Answered
Here we answer some frequently asked questions relating to slider plugins:
Which Are The Best Image Slider Plugins for WordPress?
There are numerous slider plugins available, and we believe the ones we have listed in this article are some of the best. However, the one you choose ultimately depends on your particular requirements.
If we were to name just one, it would be Smart Slider 3, as it has a vast toolbox of features that allow you to get the sliders exactly how you want them.
We also love WOW Slider because it has lots of fantastic transition effects that can make your site stand out from the rest.
What is the best free slider plugin for WordPress?
Slider Pro is perfect as it offers many premium features for no charge whatsoever. Furthermore, we like that the developer has included simple, clear illustrations and explanations of each slider type on their website
Which Slider Plugin for WordPress Offers More Choices?
Slide Anything is excellent in this respect as it is not dedicated just to images, videos, or reviews. Instead, it allows you to showcase content from virtually any source in sliders.
Given that most of the plugins we have listed offer free versions, plus many have moneyback guarantees on the premium ones, you can try them out risk-free to find the one that suits you best.
What’s Your Favorite WordPress Slider Plugin?
Sliders are a wonderfully easy way of adding visual impact and user interactivity to your site, both of which are proven to enhance user experience which can drive engagement.
Does your site already have sliders displaying images, videos, or other content on it? If so, are you using one of the plugins we have suggested or something else, and what do you like about the plugin you are using? And if you don’t currently have a slider on your site, do you plan on adding one soon? Will you try out any of the plugins we have suggested?
Whatever you are doing or plan to do, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.