WordPress is already the place to be for creating content and blogging. So is it too much too ask for a graceful photo gallery plugin?
With the release of WordPress 3.9, the photo gallery has received crucial updates, but this does not mean that it is the perfect solution to the problem of creating an easy photo gallery. Many clients and folks who are not as web-friendly prefer a more visual interface to even what is provided by WordPress.
Enter Envira and Max Galleria, two plugins trying to be the best photo gallery plugin for WordPress.
Review of Envira Gallery
Envira is a plugin that has been around for a while, created by the maker of the popular Soliloquy slider plugin. It is a solution we have used for our clients and has always served us well.
Unlike its current competition, Envira is designed with the more base user in mind. Settings are very easy to navigate and well-tabulated for quick and fast access.
Envira sorts items by galleries. You simply create a gallery within the Envira Gallery section (or within a post) and this gallery can now be used in any page or post. Simply select the gallery you want (an icon will display above the text editor) and select the gallery you want to display.
We also found Envira faster to load on page speed than Max Galleria. This means that if you are very critical of your website’s SEO and want to maximize it, Envira might be the better option.
The only downside that we found — and it might be a big one for you or your client — is the way that Envira displays images live on a site. Images sort of float into the gallery. This is impossible to describe, and you will have to see for yourself. Essentially, images fan out into their gallery display like a photo album on newer versions of Apple’s iPhoto program.
You can download Envira gallery on the website for as low as $19 for a website. If you are serious about putting a photo gallery on your site, then this plugin might be worth the price of admission. You can also buy more expensive packages which give you a bunch of add-ons in the price and extra support.
Review of Max Galleria
Max Galleria is a new — at time of publishing — WordPress photo gallery plugin from Max Plugins. This plugin is a graceful and free addition to your plugin library.
Like we did for Envira, let’s start with the positives. As many customers will be migrating from the frustrating NextGen gallery WordPress plugin, Max Galleria has smartly included a NextGen importer tool right within the plugin settings.
Max Galleria also functions like a WordPress plugin should by interfacing well with WordPress core. Options look like they belong on a WordPress post editor and importing images to a slider taps into the media library.
Ok, let’s move on to the negative.
While it is nice that Max Galleria looks like a WordPress plugin, it can also hide a lot of its best features. Being able to do things like add a description and manage templates are hidden on the “sidebar” of the gallery editor on the back end.
Also, as mentioned above, it is slightly slower to load, making it not optimal for SEO. This is not a deal-breaking issue but certainly good to note.
While we love the functionality of the plugin as a photo gallery plugin, we can also say that we are tired of free plugins with very expensive add-ons. The plugin is free, but I saw simple add-ons that were as much as $39 for a single add-on ($39 to make a photo album out of galleries, seriously?). To try out the free plugin, navigate here.
Full Screen Gallery solution
Looking for a full-screen gallery solution?
We have actually talked about this before in a previous article but suffice it to say that the solution here is the Capture Theme for WordPress theme. For photographers and photobloggers, this is the best theme on the market to display full screen galleries of your photography.
2 thoughts on “What is the Best Photo Gallery Plugin for WordPress? Envira vs Max Galleria”
Hi Matt, Dan – Erick from NextGEN Gallery here. Just wanted to add a few thoughts. Let me start by saying I appreciate your podcast and commentary, and I sincerely think Envira and Maxgalleria are solid plugins. But your comments on NextGEN Gallery seem odd.
As a simple point, NextGEN Gallery had nearly as many downloads yesterday as Envira has had since inception. Whether you look at it from active user base or new adoption rate, NextGEN is massively more popular.
TOTAL DOWNLOADS: YESTERDAY / LAST WEEK / ALL TIME:
NEXTGEN GALLERY: 12,777 / 98,153 / 9,967,367
ENVIRA: 286 / 2,153 / 13,061
MAXGALLERIA: 86 / 521 / 531
I recognize, of course, that popularity is not everything. In terms of critiques, you could note that NextGEN has a more complicated interface than the others, which is true. It’s largely because NextGEN is overwhelmingly more powerful. A plugin with hundreds of options is almost by definition going to be more complicated than one with just a few. Still there is real trade off between power and simplicity, and it’s legitimate to expect some users to prefer simple plugins that do a couple things well.
You could note that we have higher support volume, but that’s almost entirely because our user base is so much larger. Support as a percentage of user base is in line with or lower than the others. I’d add that because of age and popularity, NextGEN is deployed, customized, stretched, and integrated in ways and in sheer volumes that the other plugins do not experience.
You could underscore the bumpy release of our major overhaul to the plugin last August, which you hinted at. It’s clear there were some very real issues, and I suspect your commentary is very influenced by our challenges last year. But that was 8 months and many, many versions ago, and nearly all commonly experienced issues from that time are ironed out. And despite those bumps, the NextGEN Gallery community has been very supportive, and our active user base is as large now as its ever been based on any data you look at.
Anyways, I know you guys know a lot about WP, so I’m really not sure where your comments came from. But they do seem dismissive of tens/hundreds of thousands of real WP users in the NGG community.
I’ll add that we have a lot going on with NextGEN Gallery, with multiple developers on it full time. If you’d like to hear what we’ve been doing or what’s on the roadmap, I’d love to chat. We’d also welcome any constructive feedback you have on improving the plugin. Feel free to email me anytime and we can set up a Skype call.
Hey guys – first off, thanks for including MaxGalleria in your review, we appreciate that. I just wanted to follow up on a couple things:
1. You guys correctly point out that some of our best stuff is kind of buried in the sidebar when managing a gallery. This wasn’t obvious until I saw it in the video, and because of that, we just released an update (2.1.0) that moves all the gallery options into tabs in the main area, thus leaving the sidebar for the “normal” stuff, like categories, tags, featured image, etc. This makes the gallery options much more obvious. It’s amazing the things you discover when you watch someone else try to use your software 🙂
2. One of the things you failed to mention was that MaxGalleria is now a gallery platform, not just your typical standalone gallery plugin. It’s designed to extend with over 100 hooks in the core, which will continue to grow as we move it forward. I wrote about what it means to be a gallery platform here http://maxgalleria.com/blog/what-is-a-wordpress-gallery-platform/.
3. You mention pricing, specifically, the price of the MaxGalleria Albums addon. This is feedback we’re always listening for. This model is new for us, so we’re still trying to find what the “right” price points are.
Thanks again for the review and feedback.