In a recent post we discussed best WordPress slider plugins. And there were a lot of awesome options for you to choose from! But this time around we’re going to focus on free sliders only.
“Why?” — you ask. The free plugins you find on WordPress.org go through rigorous testing and must comply with the latest WordPress conventions in order to be published. While you may get a slider plugin with not so many options, those limitations mean that there are less moving parts. The plugin is often more stable, secure, faster to configure and easier on your page load (and great for new WordPress users).
It’s always best to use a WordPress theme that’s made fully compatible with the slider plugins it comes bundled with. I always suggest you try our Total WordPress theme, which has been thoroughly tested with two of the most used sliders today.
If you don’t want to switch themes, but still want a carousel on your website then you’ll find the list beneficial. The plugins listed here satisfy two most important conditions. They are:
- Regularly updated
- Provide good support via WordPress.org forums
It seems that there’s still a high demand for sliders, which is awesome, and if used properly they can improve user experience and sometimes even conversion rates. New and exciting WordPress slider plugins are frequently released and we’ll do our best to keep up.
Now let’s review some slider plugins and find out whether they bring some new features that can freshen up your WordPress website.
1. Nivo Slider Lite
If you’re looking for a feature rich slider from well known developers then you’ll want to try this one. Nivo Slider Lite is a free WordPress slider plugin based on the well-proven Nivo Slider that is now a part of the incredible treasure chest of WordPress goodies at ThemeIsle. It comes with an easy to use shortcode to display your slider(s), as well as plenty of available options for slider size, animation speed, pause time, navigation arrows, etc.
Plus if you upgrade to Nivo Slider from lite you’ll get access to tons more options for slider type (you can even pull slides from post types), responsive layouts, themes, thumbnail navigation, additional transition effects and more. The plugin is even included in the Pirate club, so if you’re already a member you’ll get Nivo in addition to all of the other amazing themes and plugins (plus lifetime support and updates) from Themeisle all for one low price.
To recap, Nivo Image Slider is a super-fast, responsive WordPress slider plugin that lets you create unlimited sliders, with some beautiful effects, a unique custom post and shortcode system and it’s been tested with all the current browser versions.
2. Slider WD
I found the Slider WD WordPress plugin one of the fastest. It’s an effective tool for creating carousels on your website. You can insert them manually, using shortcode, as a widget, but also within any of your theme files using PHP function.
With Slider WD you can add unlimited slides, both images and videos (YouTube and Vimeo). There’s plenty of transition effects and also support for 3 layers:
- Textual content
- Sharing buttons (Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook & Tumblr)
The most interesting thing I found on their description page is that they offer to translate the plugin to any language within 3 days. I think that’s an example of a great plugin support.
3. Meta Slider
One of the most popular WordPress slider plugins, with Meta Slider you’ll create carousels fast. You do it by selecting images from your Media Library, drag’n’droping them, setting slide captions, links and SEO tags.
You can add it to posts and pages, but also use shortcode or template tag to embed slideshows anywhere you want. Being one of the most used free slider plugin out there, it’s been translated to 16 languages.
4. Cyclone Slider 2
Cyclone Slider 2 is an easy-to-use slider plugin which utilizes built-in WordPress features. It uses custom post for the slider and custom fields to store settings. You use the default media uploader to select images.
It’s rather simple, but flexible slider plugin that supports Vimeo and YouTube, custom HTML and even testimonials. It is translated to 6 languages.
5. Ultimate Responsive Image Slider
Upon activation, Ultimate Responsive Image Slider uses very little of your website resources. With multiple image uploader, you can add infinite number of image slides in a single slider.
You can adjust the height and width of slides, navigation buttons and slide thumbnails. Shortcode allows you to put your slider in any page or post.
6. Slider by SupSystic
SupSystic slider is a responsive solution which allows you to build image, video and content sliders with some nice looking templates and quite a few options.
It also claims to be SEO optimized, but you can make any slider image SEO friendly by writing unique and relevant file names and alt tags.
7. Huge It Slider
Not as fast as the other ones, Huge-IT Slider offers you a way to add custom sliders to your WordPress templates, posts and pages.
You can add unlimited number od images and use auto-generated shortcode for displaying them anywhere where you want.
8. Master Slider
Master Slider is a free and responsive image and content slider. It supports smooth transitions and touch navigation.
It claims to be built using WordPress best practices (backend and frontend), but the interface doesn’t seem like something that belongs to WordPress (perhaps that’s because they wanted a seamless transition between the free and pro version of the plugin). On the other hand, it does work great with the default WordPress themes, but also several other themes I tested it with.
9. GIGA Slider
This slider plugin is quick, no doubt about it. It supports adding unlimited amount of slides with title and description. You can create image slide and video slides for your WordPress website. It’s responsive and works alright on Android and iDevices.
On the downside, the GIGA slider uses a rather annoying upsell notification in the plugins page. It is visible at all times and it looks like this:
10. Smart Slider 2
This one makes an unusual number of database requests. Smart Slider 2 is a responsive slider that allows you to create simple image sliders. You can also insert headings and buttons and choose your slide backgrounds.
Animations are limited to the horizontal axis only, but you can choose between the arrow and bullet slider buttons.
11. MotoPress Slider Lite
MotoPress has been known for creating some quality WordPress plugins. MotoPress Slider Lite is no exception. It’s a good solution for creating slides with emphasis on visual effects. It features drag ‘n’ drop interface (which I’m not a big fan of), responsive layout and swipe navigation.
It’s a solid, lite plugin with support for custom post types, layers and even WooCommerce. Another great feature is that you can import and export sliders. I haven’t seen another free slider plugin that gives you this option. So if you have multiple sites, but you want to use the same sliders, or you just want to save slider settings for later use, you can do that easily with MotoPress Slider Lite.
12. Smart Slider 3
Smart Slider 3 is a sequel to the older and proven Smart Slider 2 WordPress plugin. It claims to be a brand new and intuitive WordPress plugin that lets you create sliders in a way never seen before with any free slider plugin. So let’s see what’s good and what isn’t.
This plugin gives you the ability to create YouTube and Vimeo slides and even use your WordPress posts and create slides from those, so I went on to try if myself. I like that there’s a lot of video tutorials on how to create certain visual effects and a good “getting started” guide. It means you’ll have good support should you opt for this slider.
But, I didn’t like the fact that the developers have abandoned WordPress best practices when it comes to how things look and feel in the dashboard. It took me some time to get used to how things work here. I wasn’t even sure I was using WordPress, it looked like some weird version of Android to me. Other than that, it seems like a nicely supported and well-rounded plugin.
13. Ultimate Slider
Ultimate Slider is a free WordPress plugins with autoplay function, where you can also set slider delay and slide interval times. Using shortcode
[ultimate-slider], you can insert it anywhere you want in your posts and pages.
This plugin is fully responsive and compatible with WooCommerce. It does let you create different slides using categories like the previous ones, but you can also input custom CSS to tweak the looks of your slideshows. Timer bar will inform visitors when to expects slide changes.
14. Ultimate Responsive Image Slider
Ultimate Responsive Image Slider is another good option if you’re looking for a well-maintained and supported free slider plugin. It gives you the ability to upload multiple images in a batch, add multiple slides within a post or page, insert it using shortcode, individually adjust the height and width of your sliders, configure navigation buttons, etc.
The most interesting feature is slide thumbnails. If you have multiple slides within a slider, you can enable thumbnails that will be displayer below the slides, so visitors can preview them and jump forward or backward if they want to. Another perk of using this plugin is that you can define fonts within it. I don’t like plugins that have this feature, simply because it slows down your website if you enable it. But if you want to have different slider fonts than the ones defined by your theme, you can do that with this free WordPress slider plugin.
15. FA Lite Responsive Slider
FA stands for Featured Articles 3.0, which is a WordPress slider plugin that lets you create sliders from the content you’ve already published. You can create slides from your posts, pages or custom post types. However, you won’t be able to create them from your images, since this feature is reserved for the premium version.
You’ll find all the standard features, such as: navigation arrows and pagination, different layouts and animations, slider themes, etc. There are even some non-standard ones like the option to insert it using shortcode, widgets, automatically or using template tag (PHP function), so placing this slider exactly where you want it won’t be a problem. I should also mention that it comes with actions and filters, so all of you WordPress developers will certainly appreciate this plugin.
The thing I really didn’t like about this plugin is that many of its features are reserved for the premium version.
All the sliders claim to have an intuitive interface, but I suggest you try them yourself and see which one offers the best functionality/intuitiveness ratio. Since no WordPress website runs just one plugin, the load each one of them puts on your website is something to be concerned about.
Hopefully, the information you got from this article will make it easier for you to determine which free WordPress slider plugin is the right one for you. Tell me how it goes.