As theme authors we always want to use the best plugins in combination with our themes so that our clients can have the best experience with their new site. At our company we build themes that are packed with key features for the particular niche and stay light and fast at the same time. So obviously we want to recommend the best plugins to work alongside our themes.
Today we will take a look at the best free lightbox plugins that you as a theme author can recommend for your theme.
What we wanted from a lightbox plugin:
- works out of the box (no settings needed)
- opens content images (regular WordPress content and Page Builder content)
- opens images added with ACF
- automatically creates a gallery of images that are on the same page
- how many CSS files does it enqueue (and their size)
- how many JS files does it enqueue (and their size)
- how does the lightbox look like
- when was it last updated
- the rating on wordpress.org
We reviewed plugins with wordpress.org score of at least 4.0. If you think we missed a good lightbox plugin, please share it with us in the comment section below.
The lightbox plugins that we tested:
- Simple Lightbox,
- FancyBox for WordPress,
- WP Featherlight,
- Easy FancyBox,
- Responsive Lightbox by dFactory,
- WP Lightbox 2,
- IW Magnific Popup,
- WP jQuery Lightbox,
- FooBox Image Lightbox
Our Test results
Let us first point out, that this was not a full, in depth review of each plugin! It’s only a fast test for the features that we care about as theme authors. You can check the table of results in the link below:
We decided to go with the WP Featherlight plugin, even though it did not create a gallery of images on the same page (but we also found a fix for that). As its name suggests, this plugin is light as a feather and does the job very well.
FancyBox for WordPress plugin ticked all the boxes, but it’s visuals were a bit of: the closing icon is offset and and the loading image shifts just before final load.
We could choose IW Magnific Popup plugin, but it was updated 8 months ago and it’s also a bit “heavier”.
Easy FancyBox was also ok, be we prefer the look of the WP Featherlight.
As you see it’s the little things that influenced our decision. The fact that we choose WP Featherlight, does not mean that it’s the best free lightbox plugin out there. The point of this post was to showcase the top free lightbox plugins, so you can decide which one is best for you and your theme.
Let me know which lightbox plugin are you recommending for your theme and why, in the comments below!
P.S.: if you are not already using TGMPA, be sure to check it out. It’s the easiest way to recommend the plugins for your theme.