Despite the controversy and even demonization, many websites still can’t ignore sliders as a powerful marketing and presentation weapon so the latter are often of high demand. If you are here, most likely you’ve already made up your mind that a WordPress slider plugin is what you need to go further. And we are here to help you choose the best slider plugin for your particular needs.
The main limitation of many free slider plugins for WordPress is that they provide only image sliders with limited layouts and animation effects – but you’re also to discover some that moved beyond these limitations!
Many WordPress slideshow plugins often repeat familiar performance-related mistakes, such as excessive features that can have a bad effect on the overall user experience on your WordPress website. But it’s not all so one-sided.
Images, as well as videos (especially hosted locally on your website) are one of the heaviest assets of your site. Usually, it’s them that influence the website performance badly – so make sure to optimize images and other media files before uploading them to your WordPress.
When you need to create slideshows with a true wow-effect, build sparkling slideshow portfolios, add WordPress video sliders, make sure to check out our collection of the premium WordPress slider plugins (compared).
For now, let’s go through some best free WordPress slider plugins.
A free version of the MetaSlider WordPress image slider plugin is very generous. One of the biggest benefits of this slider is that it’s easy to get started with. You just add slides with all the needed details and edit slider details individually. You can easily reorder slides with drag and drop, link slides, use built-in slideshow themes, and more.
It works with several WP slideshow modes (they come with a different number of transition effects). The plugin can do the image cropping and help you with the image positioning the intelligent way so that they won’t look ugly on any screen. To use videos and dynamically sourced website content with MetaSlider, you need a Pro version.
Is it for you? Yes, if you need an all-in-one image-based slider with numerous effects and built-in themes, plus smooth integration with the translation plugins.
SmartSlider3 is a fast, top-quality, and feature-rich plugin for creating slideshows. It has all you’d expect from a slider plugin, including stunning motion effects and customizable layers, touch-swipe navigation, background animation, full-width responsive modes, etc.
It comes with a few pre-made slides from the Slide Library (more are available in a Pro version), to name just a few functionalities. It additionally allows you to create fancy offset and other layouts for slides.
It can also easily deal with typography and styles. It’s quite handy in use allowing you to move quickly between settings and create simple and advanced slideshows in no time. The Pro version is widely used by designers and developers.
Is it for you? Yes, if you need the all-around layer-based professional WP slider plugin with support for videos and WordPress posts in a free version.
It’s an easy and intuitive slider for creating responsive WordPress sliders based on images. The MotoPress slider plugin is relatively fast and comes with a huge range of features, for example, you can easily edit slider layers, add images and videos, apply animation effects, etc.
In addition to traditional image sliders, you can create a posts slider and a WooCommerce slider to feature your products.
Although it’s not so promoted as other free slider plugins for WordPress, MotoPress slider is definitely worth checking out since it’s highly rated by its users and overall ships with a lot of functional capabilities. Moreover, the Pro version of the plugin is probably the most affordable among counterparts.
Is it for you? Yes, if you need an effective WordPress slider plugin with support for WooCommerce custom post types and WordPress posts, plus an ability to upgrade to Pro without affecting your bank balance too much.
The Ultimate Responsive Slider is a great solution among free slider plugins for WordPress. Its free version is primarily aimed at those who need to build image sliders.
The slider created with this plugin is fully customizable, including the ability to update to add extra elements, customize navigation bullets, font styles, colors, and more.
Is it for you? Yes, if you need a plain and simple WordPress slider plugin for building rather classic slideshows.
Slider by Nivo is among the best free WordPress slider plugins. It’s gained a good reputation thanks to a great bunch of tools offered through the plugin and very through-out user experience: you’ll be ready to go in a few minutes with your first slider, without unneeded tweaking! It’s also a performance-first product that will unlikely compromise your site.
Nivo Slider lets you create different types of slideshows, including an image WordPress carousel or a post slider.
Is it for you? Yes, if you prioritize a plugin performance and need a super easy-in-use solution with the bare-minimum tools.
This is an old standby on the slider WordPress plugins market so you can be sure it has all for simple and advanced slideshows. It allows you to build an SEO-optimized slider via the drag-and-drop interface.
It stands out thanks to numerous tools for creating image and video sliders with animation effects, even allowing you to start with a pre-made template for consistent slider design. The plugin is also optimized to work with Gutenberg.
Is it for you? Yes, if you need countless features and a trustworthy plugin you can rely on years ahead.
This Responsive Image Slider by 10Web is another really awesome solution with a focus on a modern design yet performance-first slideshow experiences. The free version allows you to feature both images and videos (including direct links from video hosting platforms like Youtube) in slides, plus gives you a chance to add transition effects, add hotspots, marketing buttons, social media buttons, etc.
Is it for you? Yes, if you need a slideshow plugin with a top-notch design, social media integration and parallax effects for a portfolio or blog.
Slide Anything WordPress slider plugin
Slide Anything is among the most used slider plugins for WordPress. It comes with a slider builder for constructing touch-enabled free WordPress carousels and sliders. The plugin also employs a lazy load images approach to help you in your SEO efforts.
One of its outstanding features is a huge array of transition effects to help you make your sliders more dynamic. Modal popups, hero sliders, and showcases are available in a Pro version.
Is it for you? Yes, if you need to quickly and easily create image-based touch-enabled sliders with the ability to include multiple transition effects.
As its name suggests, you can use this free WordPress slider plugin for featuring WooCommerce products. It allows you to build a carousel slideshow using product details from your WooCommerce store. This slider will give the needed amount of attention to each product or service you sell.
It’s bundled with numerous tools tied specifically to WooCommerce so you can selectively showcase automatically sourced product information. Since you’ll most likely need to take care of the layout only, it’s going to save you a lot of time.
Is it for you? Yes, if you have a WooCommerce store and want to add extra promotion to your products with ease.
Sliders packed with Gutenberg add-ons
With the Gutenberg addons market thriving, there is quite often no need to have different plugins for a slider and multipurpose content building tools. Many popular Gutenberg page builder extensions come bundled with different types of slider blocks for WordPress.
Let’s list some of them you might find useful:
Getwid is a huge library of Gutenberg WordPress blocks for different needs. Among unique blocks and ready-made design templates, you can employ several slider-based blocks (and the fact is, it has the biggest number of dedicated slider blocks).
For example, it has a specific Media&Text Slider block for traditional image sliders, a fully customizable Posts slider, the Post Carousel block, and even the Custom Post Type block that can be used to feature any automatically sourced content of your custom post types (e.g. WooCommerce products). Some of these blocks offer a very flexible slider builder where you can update literally everything from layout to content and typography.
Offering such a variety of tools, Getwid is still very lightweight and blends just nicely with any WordPress theme.
This is one of the most used Gutenberg addons that has a posts slider block to make your posts appear in a carousel. There is a great arsenal of customization tools to help you shape the look of the carousel.
This Gutenberg addon comes with the Advanced Gallery block that, among other things, allows you to add a carousel and a slider block, quite simple and lightweight, without any crazy bells and whistles.
There are also other block plugins that can offer sliders so make sure to check them out as well.
Conclusion: what is the best WordPress slider plugin?
So we’ve just listed the best free slider plugins for WordPress that are popular standbys and you can surely rely on them in the long run.
Those Gutenberg slider blocks we’ve also mentioned are a way to go when you want to minimize the number of plugins (why install multiple plugins if you can do with one?). They are also being actively developed and can be used without worries.
All the listed plugins are following the same path at multiple aspects so it all boils down to how advanced features you need and the interface you love working with.
So how will you approach this task of creating an image slideshow in WordPress?