What are the first impressions of a visitor landing on your website? Research has proved that visitors make their mind up about a website in just seconds. If you want visitors to stick around, you need to be making a positive first impression.
Of course, what makes a positive first impression is far more subjective. Generally speaking though, a huge wall of text looks intimidating to casual visitors, leaving many scrambling for the back button.
That’s why many websites choose to add a visual component to greet visitors, in the form of an image slider. Not only does an image slider break up the monotony of text, but they’re a good way to grab attention and engage visitors.
Top Content Slider Plugins for WordPress
However, beyond adding some visual appeal to your website, sliders perform one other important function: organization.
If images are an important component of your website, a slider is an eye-catching way to arrange and display them in one place. Likewise content: you can put links to your popular content in a featured content slider, which provides a visually stimulating way for visitors to navigate your site.
Today I want to help you add slider functionality to your website, by introducing you to six of the best slider plugins for WordPress.
Soliloquy (from $19)
Let’s kick things off by looking at arguably the most popular slider plugin on the market: Soliloquy.
Soliloquy is a powerful WordPress slider plugin, built with performance and security in mind. It was developed with “dynamic asynchronous ajax preloading” capabilities, which is a fancy way of saying it loads fast – really, really fast. The plugin has even been audited by the lead WordPress developer, Mark Jaquith, who gave it top marks for data security.
In other words, Soliloquy is coded to the highest possible standards.
That’s all reassuring to hear, but a slider plugin is ultimately judged on the quality of the sliders it produces – and fortunately, Soliloquy excels in this area.
Building sliders is incredibly easy, thanks to an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. This interface allows you to easily upload images, optimize them for SEO, and arrange them in your slider. You can also add videos to your slider, by embedding them directly from YouTube or Vimeo.
As you’d expect from a top-of-the-range plugin, there are also plenty of configuration options to choose from. You can choose your slider’s dimensions, slide duration, and the core version of the plugin gives you a choice of two slider skins and three transition styles – there are more skins and transitions available by extending Soliloquy.
The sliders are fully responsive and look incredibly stylish, as can be seen in this screenshot of a slider built with Soliloquy.
The core version of Soliloquy is available from just $19. However, those of you looking to get the most from this powerful plugin will be pleased to hear that Soliloquy is fully extendable with nine premium add-ons available.
The $49 Multi license gives you access to the core plugin, plus four “Basic” add-ons. These include:
- Schedule: schedule individual slides or entire sliders to only display at specific time intervals
- Pinterest: add a “Pin It” button to each image in the slider for easy Pinterest sharing
- Themes: two more responsive, retina-ready slider skins
- Instagram: build sliders with images pulled straight from your Instagram account
If that’s not enough for you, check out the $99 Developer license which gets you the core plugin, the basic add-ons, plus these five “Advanced” add-ons:
- Dynamic: add images from your NextGen and WordPress galleries to your sliders
- Thumbnails: help visitors navigate your slider with thumbnail images
- Featured Content: lets you create slides linking to featured content
- Carousel: converts your slider into an image carousel
- Lightbox: integrates prettyPhoto lightbox script into your slider
Soliloquy really is a fantastic slider plugin, and well worth checking out. (Note: a free version of Soliloquy is available with limited functionality.)
RoyalSlider is a highly versatile slider plugin, available for just $22 from CodeCanyon.
The plugin lets you build beautiful, responsive sliders from images featured in your posts, your WordPress gallery, or pulled dynamically from 500px and Flickr – these last two options make it ideal for photographers. If you want to include video slides, you can embed videos from YouTube and Vimeo, too.
The interface is intuitive and user friendly, including a live preview option so you can see how your slider looks as you make changes.
For WordPress users looking to build a featured content slider, you can pull posts, pages, and custom post types – such as WooCommerce product pages – directly into your slider. You can specify which posts are included by selecting tags and categories, and you can order the slides based on date or popularity. This makes RoyalSlider a great choice for creating a featured content slider for your homepage.
RoyalSlider’s real strength lies in its versatility, though. There are currently five slider skins to choose from, with each looking stylish and professional.
Going one step further, there are also 11 “templates” you can use with each skin. The templates add extra CSS to your slider, which supports more sophisticated slider functionality alongside your images – for example adding post titles, full-screen option, thumbnails, and a slider within a laptop (see screenshot below). This means at the click of a button you can have the exact style of slider you want to include on your website.
For those of you concerned with load speed, RoyalSlider also supports lazy-loading, with the slides only loaded as and when they are needed; images included in a slider can be optimized for SEO, too.
A very capable slider plugin at a great price.
Meteor Slides (FREE)
For those of you looking to add slider functionality on a budget, Meteor Slides is one of the best free options available.
Keep in mind this is a free plugin, and so some of the features feel more limited when compared to the premium options. For example, the interface is less intuitive; it requires you to create a slideshow, then create individual slides to populate the slideshow – having the ability to create all your slides in one go would be a real time-saver.
However, ignoring that minor criticism, once your slides are set up the slideshow is really easy to configure. There are a variety of configuration options to choose from, including quantity of slides, slide duration, and slideshow dimensions. There’s also two navigation styles to choose from – you can choose both or none if you’d prefer. And, for a free plugin, Meteor Slides supports an impressive 27 transition styles.
The sliders built look simple but professional (see the screenshot below), and are fully responsive. You can add a slideshow to any post or page using a simple shortcode, or to any widget area using a dedicated widget.
If your budget is tight, Meteor Slides could be the slider plugin you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a visually stunning slider plugin, I highly recommend LayerSlider, available for $17 from CodeCanyon. The plugin comes packed with effects, including a staggering 200 2D and 3D slide transitions – far more than anything else on the market today.
LayerSlider allows you to build beautiful, responsive image galleries and featured content sliders. You can add any type of media to your sliders, including images, posts/pages from your WordPress site, text, audio, and videos embedded straight from YouTube or Vimeo.
Setting up a slider is quick and simple using the plugin’s visual drag-and-drop interface. For more control over your slider’s content, LayerSlider includes a sophisticated timeline view, which allows you to configure the exact moment each slide is displayed. There’s also a live preview function, allowing you to view changes to your slider in real-time.
The sliders built by LayerSlider really do look great – the demo needs to be seen! In addition to the aforementioned 200+ transition styles, there are 13 fully customizable skins, and three different navigation styles – you can choose from bullet points, thumbnails, or hover thumbnails. You can customize the typography, too, with a choice of over 600 Google fonts. There are also loads of awesome in-slide animation effects, including a parralex effects which tracks the movement of a visitor’s cursor – I told you, visually stunning!
Throw in lazy loading functionality and SEO optimization and you really do have one of the most powerful slider plugins on the market, and certainly the most stylish.
Slider Pro ($28)
If usability is your main criteria for choosing a slider plugin, look no further than Slider Pro – the plugin was built with the user in mind, streamlining the building process and removing any unnecessary functionality.
However, don’t let its simplicity fool you: it’s still capable of producing professional, stylish sliders.
Slider Pro uses WordPress coding best practices to ensure the plugin is optimized for speed and security. You can use the plugin to dynamically add images from posts, or you can manually add images from your WordPress gallery or Flickr.
The interface is really easy to use, letting you add all your slides in one place, then drag-and-drop them into order. You can configure the slide duration, transition style, and slider dimensions from this screen – if you set the slider’s visible size to be wider than the individual slide size, you get a carousel-style slider, as displayed in the screenshot below.
Slider Pro’s sliders are fully responsive and look stunning. The transition animations are powered by CSS3 and this makes them impressively smooth, and the plugin features lazy loading, meaning the impact on load times is kept to a minimum. For visitors on mobile touch-screen devices, Slider Pro supports a native touch-swipe navigation, which allows the visitor to flick their way through the slides.
Slider Pro is available from CodeCanyon for $28.
Slider Revolution ($18)
The final plugin on today’s list is Slider Revolution, a powerful, all-purpose slider plugin available for $18 – and, with nearly 50,000 downloads, by far the most powerful slider plugin on CodeCanyon.
Slider Revolution lets you add text, images, WordPress posts, audio, and images to your slider.
The plugin uses a sophisticated WYSIWYG visual editor for building your slider. You can upload your slides, drag-and-drop them into position, and, using the new timeline feature, configure exactly when each slide will appear.
As well as an impressive amount of slide transition animations, Slider Revolution also supports a stunning range of in-slide animations – my favorite is the Ken Burns effect which pans and zooms the background images. The in-slide effects look incredibly stylish, and add extra sophistication to your sliders.
Slider Revolution also lets you create different layers for each slide – each layer can be animated individually. Included in these layers are text captions which overlay the images, and can be positioned on the slide using the visual editor. You can add any supported media to a layer, which gives you the possibility to embed a video within a slide – it’s pretty advanced functionality, and can be seen in the screenshot below.
The completed sliders look great – arguably the best visuals of any of the slider plugins featured today. You can use Slider Revolution to make small, in-post sliders, or stunning full-page sliders for your homepage.
As you’d expect from a premium slider plugin, Slider Revolution also supports lazy loading and SEO optimization.
One of the most beautiful slider plugins on the market, Slider Revolution is highly recommended!
If you want a better way to organize your images and content, a WordPress slider plugin is a must – it’s also a great way to make your website more aesthetically pleasing. This can create a great first impression that encourages visitors to stay on your website for longer and consume more of your content.
Due to the sheer number of websites utilizing image sliders, the slider plugin market is well served. There are plenty of great slider plugins out there, and this can make choosing the best one difficult.
My advice is to take a look at each of the plugin’s demos, get a feel for their features, then make a decision based on your needs. However, all the plugins featured in today’s list represent a solid choice: they all allow you to create beautiful, responsive sliders, and even a WordPress novice could use these plugins with minimal fuss – what more could you ask from a slider plugin?
What’s your favorite slider plugin? Let us know in the comments space below!