WordPress lightbox plugins have been around for a long time, and are arguably more popular than ever.
Why? Largely because of their versatility and potential application across a variety of industries such as retail galleries, artistic and professional portfolios, an endless stream of food blogs, and opt-in placements.
Aside from industry-specific benefits, WordPress lightbox plugins can:
- Prevent users from having to open images in a new tab to enlarge them.
- Often include social share buttons to easily share images.
- Include more robust scaling and editing options than the native WordPress image editor.
- Improve conversions if used for promotion and lead generation.
Due to the myriad benefits and popularity of WordPress lightbox plugins, there are a long list of plugins in the WordPress.org repository (along with premium plugins available elsewhere). To save you from endless comparisons, in this article we feature five great free plugins based on popularity, ratings, and functionality.
But before we get started…
If you like full-width slideshow galleries with optional thumbnails, autoplay and zoom effects, you might like the new Lightbox Gallery effect that is included in the Pro Versions of all of our newest themes for 2016 (Photolog, Optics, Sider). See it in action below:
Without further adieu, here’s our list of the best 5 free lightbox plugins for WordPress:
5 Best Free WordPress Lightbox Plugins
Even the best gallery can lose impact with poor mobile compatibility, and WP Lightbox 2 provides a solution with its fully responsive designs. Aside from the image handling typical of lightbox plugins, WP Lightbox 2 also enables you to add lightbox effects in comments, along with albums and galleries. You can even include a download link for any image you post.
With over 100,000 active installations, WP Lightbox 2 is well supported, regularly updated, and advertised as being compatible with most modern WordPress themes.
Responsive Lightbox is just as the name implies – designed to be responsive for the best mobile experience. This lightbox features six responsive scripts (Swipebox, prettyPhoto, FancyBox, Nivo Lightbox, Image Lightbox, and Tos “R” Us).
The plugin features a number of customization options, such as adding automated lightboxes to media, and triggering lightboxes on jQuery events. With over 200,000 active installs, it’s a feature-rich choice for engaging audiences that primarily use mobile devices.
Simple Lightbox is a straightforward plugin, despite being packed with a number of customization options. Those options include your choice of custom mobile-optimized layouts, keyboard navigation, page type filters, metadata control and display, and group image links, just to name a few.
One notable feature is the option to limit the lightbox to only specific pages, which is ideal if you use custom landing pages or a portfolio. Simple Lightbox has earned its high rating (4.6 of 5 stars) and boasts over 100,000 active installs.
If you want a nice mix of digital media beyond the standard images, WP Video Lightbox provides simple shortcodes for quick implementation. You can embed videos with a simple lightbox overlay that can handle images, but will also display Flash, YouTube, Vimeo, and iframe content.
With over 20 configuration options you’ll have a lot of control over your video display, including animation speed, opacity, resizing permissions, window themes, padding, autoplay, deep linking (via prettyPhoto), and full screen options.
With 4.6 of 5 stars and over 60,000 active installs, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better free plugin for displaying video on your WordPress site.
Lightbox Plus Colorbox offers a few unique features you won’t find with a lot of lightbox plugins, particularly the option to customize the background. This dimming effect over the page puts all the emphasis on the content you’re displaying within the lightbox, including images, simple slideshows, and even video – a comprehensive selection ideal for portfolios.
A media-heavy site can also affect site performance. Thankfully, this plugin uses WordPress’ built-in jQuery library to prevent performance issues and keep your website load times down.
While it has more than 300,000 active installs, it does have a slightly lower rating (3.7 of 5 stars at the time of this post) than other popular plugins, due to compatibility issues where users were unable to get the plugin to function after install. So, if you like the look of this particular plugin, be sure to test it thoroughly.
Getting your digital media displayed on your website in an attractive and user-friendly format should be easy. Instead of wading through endless lightbox options, consider the free options available:
- WP Lightbox 2: to add a lightbox within comments.
- Responsive Lightbox: for a choice of lightbox scripts to display your images.
- Simple Lightbox: to display a lightbox on selective pages.
- WP Video Lightbox: for displaying multimedia within a lightbox.
- Lightbox Plus Colorbox: for some advanced customization options not found in other plugins.
Once you make your choice, the installation and configuration is easy – you’ll be sharing your images and videos in no time.
Do you have a favorite lightbox plugin that didn’t make our list? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: pcdazero.