Anyone who has had a lot of content that they want to show directly on their homepage has, at one time or another, considered or used a slider. These sliders are a good way to showcase and highlight your important content, while at the same time grabbing your viewers’ attention from the moment they open your site. They can be used to display multiple images, as well as videos and other content, depending on the purpose of your site.
There are a lot of slider plugins out there, however not all serve their purpose well. Some of them are slow, mainly due to the fact that they won’t be coded well enough, resulting in an increase in your page load time. This should be a major factor when choosing the plugin you want to use, as slow loading times can push visitors away from the get go. Others are not that easy to use for beginners, while most aren’t even responsive. The use of a responsive theme is vital nowadays, and not having a responsive plugin could undo all your hard work. Make sure you pick a plugin that would look as good on your phone as it would on a desktop.
Below is a list of just some of the responsive Slider Plugins out there, both free and premium, for images, videos and other content.
Certainly one of the fastest responsive slider plugins out there, Soliloquy is a great plugin to showcase your images and videos. It allows for an unlimited amount of possible sliders, and the possibility of multiple sliders on the same page. Its UI is very similar to that of WP itself, and it offers a large variety of options to modify your slider. It also uses a drag-and-drop interface, enhanced by Ajax, to sort your images, all of which can in turn have their metadata edited. Another great touch (albeit using a developer license) are all the addons available for Soliloquy, which help you create some awesome looking sliders.
Price: $19 (Personal), $99 (Developer License)
RoyalSlider is one of the most widely-used slider plugins on some of the best designed sites, including those of Ralph Lauren and of photographer Pep Karsten. It’s a fully responsive, flexible and fluid slider plugin that offers over 10 templates, 5 skins and 100 options. Not only that, but when it comes to content, you can include images, videos, HTML content, and, furthermore, you can populate date from various locations such as Flickr, Instagram, and others. It might not offer a lot of cool transition effects, but what it does offer is a clean, good-looking content slider that works great every time, on every device.
Price: $22 (Regular License), $110 (Extended License)
Being one of the best feature-filled slider plugins you can find, LayerSlider is a multi-purpose slider that offers you a vast range of options and customisation effects. The list of features is endless, but the main idea behind this plugin is to give the user the best experience upon visiting your site, while still keeping the slider smooth and responsive. It includes a drag-and-drop slider builder, real-time previews, Google Fonts, and much more. Its compatibility with other popular plugins such as WPML and qTranslate, and support of touch navigation are some of the extra plus points that LayerSlider offers.
Price: $17 (Regular License), $85 (Extended License)
Master Slider is a very user-friendly drag-and-drop slider builder that offers smooth, responsive sliders of all kinds. Its real-time timeline preview, along with the ability to align and snap to objects, is a great feature that allows you to check out the slide at every possible moment, ensuring the best output possible. It even includes a transition editor, animated layers, and the ability to create a slider from any post types, and include galleries from popular services such as Flickr. The countless options on offer, together with the ability to integrate with Visual Composer, make this a great slider for anyone who wants to enjoy creating the coolest slides possible on their sites.
Price: $28 (Regular License), $140 (Extended License)
Cyclone Slider 2 is a free plugin that provides an easy way to create simple sliders that do their job exactly as needed. Using a system of templates, Cyclone gives you the ability to make every slider unique. You can customize its appearance and behavior as you wish, even having the ability to assign random slide orders on every page load. It supports various content types including images, Youtube videos, Vimeo videos, as well as html. Cyclone Slider 2’s interface is very easy to use, with a drag-and-drop feature to re-order your slides.
Smart Slider 2 offers you one of the easiest ways of creating stunning sliders of various types in the quickest and easiest manner. It uses a system of layers whereby you can add multiple layers on each other, each with a different purpose, be it images, videos, text or more. You can customize your slider as you wish with an intuitive back end, without the need to learn any html or css. A live preview let’s you view your changes as you go, be it a different background colour or even a different set of arrows. With touch screen support and over 120,000 downloads, this is a trusted plugin that will deliver wherever needed.
Price: $19 (Starter License), $99 (Lifetime License)
A great plugin for creating image, video and post sliders, Nemus provides you with a simple way of creating attractive sliders. Created to serve both the experienced, and the less experienced WP user, it offers a very easy to use interface that shows all your sliders on one page, making it even easier to keep track of all your sliders. Nemus comes with a variety of great features including Instagram and Flickr integration, captions with multiple positions and animations, and even a carousel mode. It’s a great plugin that you can modify as desired, blending it straight into your theme as you desire.
Easing Slider is a lightweight alternative for slider plugins. With over 450,000 users, it’s evident that this plugin’s easy to use interface and great functionality are a perfect combination for anyone wanting to create a slider without the need to code anything. However, it’s also developer friendly, allowing you to create your own functionality using WordPress actions, filters and backbone.js. Easing Slider blends right into your WP admin area, even providing a built in customizer, and the ability to integrate Youtube and Vimeo videos.
Price: €19.99 (Personal), €99.99 (Developer License)
FlexSlider is a lightweight plugin that’s virtually plug and play for any beginner to WordPress. However, for the more seasoned developer, its minimal use of unnecessary markup means that you have the freedom to use any HTML element within any slides you want, without it becoming too bloated. Some of the features it offers include fade and slide animations, as well as customizable options. Overall it’s a simple jQuery slider plugin that’s fully responsive, and serves your basic needs.
SlideDeck 2 is another easy to use slider plugin that offers multiple slider types, including images, videos, text and html. Each slider can be of one type, or a mix of different content types (from WP posts to Pinterest), even including multiple layouts and captions. It also has a drag-and-drop feature for the slides, which works well with the sleek Live Preview it offers right in the custom UI. According to the developer, its use of 12 lenses and the large selection of sources and options available mean that there are over 29 million possible combinations.
Price: $49 (Personal), $119 (Developer License)
One of the easiest to use plugins out there. EasyRotator gives you the choice of multiple templates, different transition effects, and even the ability to use content from your own computer or from your WP media library. After editing the titles, descriptions and even links of each slide, you can view your work on its Previewer. Some other features it offers are autoplay, randomisation, infinte looping, video and audio. The standard features come 100% free, but for the extra ones you need to upgrade to the Pro version.
Price: Free (Standard – not many features), $20 (Pro version for one site)
Slider Revolution has been called one of the best slider plugins out there, and with good reason. Its developers call it an “all-purpose slide displaying solution”. Incorporating various customizable transitions, customizable drag-and-drop captions, the ability to pull content right from your posts and customise it, and WPML support, among many others, makes this one of the most feature filled plugins that exist. It even offers full screen possibilities and many, many slide navigation features.
Price: $18 (Regular License), $90 (Extended License)
This slider plugin is a simple way to incorporate a slider for your posts or pages on your WP site or blog. Slide transitions are made with a powerful combination of CSS3 and jQuery, making sure the parallax effect displays beautifully. Customization might be limited, but its admin page on the WP admin section makes it easy for anyone to use. From this admin page you can configure the number of posts to display, their sort order, the time between each slide, and more.
A very powerful, fully responsive plugin. Slider Pro gives you over 150 options and over 100 possible transition effects, ranging from simple ones such as slide, to complex effects like slice. You also get more than 15 skins, 7 scrollbars, and many more features ranging from dynamic content to video integration. Its admin area is very similar to the WP design, making it very user friendly for anyone even slightly familiar with the WP way.
Price: $28 (Regular License), $140 (Extended License)
Meta Slider is one of the most powerful slider plugins for WordPress, having a 5 star rating on wordpress.org, and according to its developer, receiving over 10,000 downloads per week. One of the main reasons for this is that it has 4 different slideshow types:
- Flex Slider 2
- Nivo Slider
- Responsive Slides
- Coin Slider
All of these implement a drag-and-drop function to select your images from your WP media library, allowing you to edit each one. Be it setting captions for the images, or applying links, you can do all this from one page, while always being SEO optimized. The possibilities with this plugin seem endless, an you can view some of them on its Examples page on the link below.
Price: $19 (Personal), $99 (Developer License)
Conclusions and Recommendations
Having said all this and shown you all these plugins, I have to say that the use of sliders isn’t necessarily the best idea for your homepage (and at times, any other page). The idea of a landing page is to grab the visitors’ attention as soon as they get to your site. Having changing images can be a distraction, while also being annoying at times if the timing isn’t set right. Showing an image or text for 2 seconds will not give the visitor enough time to view it, while showing it for 8 seconds will make him/her think that there might not be a second image, causing them to click away and miss out on possibly great content.
All these reasons make me sceptical about the use of sliders in the ever-developing world of web design. Having been a fan of them myself when I began to use WordPress to design my first site – my hockey club’s website – I thought they were a good idea to show off multiple images right at the start of the viewers’ experience on my site. However, having read and researched about them, my opinion has changed considerably. While I still think that they can be of use for certain pages, especially when it comes to manually scrollable sliders for your image galleries and so on, the use of sliders on a homepage doesn’t appeal to me any longer.
Using an alternative such as the Hero layout used by Dropbox and Spotify can lead to much better SEO, higher click through rates on your homepage, and much more. Alternatives such as this seem to be the best way forward.
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