Content is King. I’m sure you’ve heard that countless times before. And it’s true: content is a really big piece of the puzzle for building a successful website. But it’s not the only piece.
For a start, having a beautiful, well-designed website to greet visitors will provide the best possible first impression. It’s this first impression that encourages them to stay on site for longer, to actually read that brilliant content you’ve spent hours perfecting.
Now, I’m sure we all want that visually stunning website, and we probably all have different opinions on what makes a website stunning. However, there is one thing I’m sure we all agree on: images make a website look good. And bold, beautiful, well-chosen images make a website look really good. If a visitor arrives on your website only to see a big block of text, their first thought is “I can’t be bothered to read this.” Before they’ve even had time to sample your outstanding content, they’ve already hit the back button, and another potential customer is lost.
Today I want to help encourage your visitors to stick around for longer by introducing you to seven WordPress plugins for adding beautiful imagery to your website. Remember: the longer they stay, the more they read, and the more likely they are to convert. With this in mind, these plugins are a must!
GridFX Responsive Image Grids WordPress Plugin
Adding stylish image galleries is a good way to spruce up your content and make it more visually appealing. One of my favorite image gallery plugins is the GridFX gallery plugin, available for $17.
Using GridFX, you can add beautiful, responsive image grids to your posts — there’s also a stunning masonry style grid available. You can pull images from your WordPress media library into your grids, or embed videos, WooCommerce products, and WordPress post/pages. There are over 80 different customization options for you to choose from, including lightboxes, colors, and title animations. My personal favorite is the chunky, full-width grid, as shown in the screenshot below.
Image Elevator Easy Images for WordPress
WordPress has always made it easy to add images to your content — it’s as simple as dragging and dropping an image into the WordPress media gallery to upload it, then clicking to insert it into a post. However, the Image Elevator Plugin makes this process even more efficient!
Image Elevator lets you paste images straight into the WordPress editor — there’s no need to even open the media gallery. This functionality also extends to screenshots you take yourself: simply hit Print Screen and you can paste directly into the editor. Personally, I find cropping images to be the biggest nuisance of all, and Image Elevator solves this problem perfectly. Using your favorite image editing software, all you have to do is highlight the part of the image you want, click to copy it, then you can paste it into the editor. With no need to manually crop, this plugin is a real time saver.
Canva Design Button Free WordPress Plugin
Your post’s featured images are one of the most commonly viewed elements on your website — after all, they appear on your blog’s homepage and are often featured at the top of posts. If you can make your featured images more enticing, you’ll get more clicks through to your content. Simple, right?
Personally, I’m a big fan of the freemium Canva Design Button plugin for building featured images — alternatively, you can build featured images directly from the Canva website. Using the drag-and-drop interface, Canva lets you overlay a variety of stock photographs, fonts, and graphics to create beautiful, branded images. For an example of the type of image Canva is capable of producing, see the screenshot below.
Canva has over one million stock photographs available and plenty of graphical elements, too. A few of these are free of charge, but most have a reasonable price tag attached. When you’ve finished creating your layered image, simply pay for the premium elements you’ve used, then you can use it on your website.
Aesop Story Engine Free WordPress Plugin
If you want an awesome, free plugin to make your content look gorgeous, I recommend the massively under-appreciated Aesop Story Engine. The plugin is effectively a suite of different “modules” for publishing engaging, long-form content. Some of this functionality is focused on organizing your content, for example timelines and chapter headings. However, Aesop Story Engine can also do a lot of cool things for your images.
For a start, you can add beautiful full-page images at the top of a post. This is a feature supported by some WordPress themes, but this is a great alternative for anyone looking to add this to their website. You can also use the plugin to add simple image galleries to your image, or full-width images within your content — you can even use a parallax effect with your full-width images, which looks stunning.
If you want to get your message across in grand, spectacular style, Aesop Story Engine could be just what you’re looking for.
Allground: Fullscreen Backgrounds for WordPress
Moving away from placing beautiful imagery within your content, the Allground Fullscreen Background will help you add a beautiful design element across your entire website. Allground lets you add your own fullscreen images, which are then displayed as a background for your website. This is a great way to create an engaging first impression for visitors. You can embed YouTube videos or display self-hosted videos as backgrounds, too.
You can set your background to appear site-wide, or you can configure it to appear on a specific post/page. The backgrounds aren’t fixed either, and you can configure a series of images to rotate every few seconds.
WP Smush.it Free WordPress Plugin
Without doubt the least glamorous plugin featured in today’s list, but possibly one of the most important. WP Smush.it image optimization lets you keep your WordPress website running fast by condensing your images down to smaller file sizes without losing quality. And, as we all know, website speed is a component of Google’s ranking algorithm, so anything you can do to improve load times could see you climbing up the SERPs.
WP Smush.it compresses an image’s file size by stripping away the unnecessary metadata — a form of lossless compression. You can set the plugin to automatically “smush” new images as they are uploaded to your media library, or you can go back and compress existing files. If you want a premium version of the Smush.it plugin, WPMU have released WP Smush PRO.
Final Tiles Grid Gallery for WordPress
The final plugin in today’s list is Final Tiles Grid Gallery. The plugin allows you to create simple, stylish, responsive grid galleries for your website.
My favorite gallery style supported by Final Tiles is the beautiful “smart” grid. Smart grids allow you to build grids without the restriction of columns and rows — the images you select simply slot together, creating beautiful, distinctive galleries. View the screenshot below to see this in action.
Beyond this, the plugin also supports one-click social sharing, five lightbox styles, and hover effects. You can also add captions to each image, and visitors can sort and filter your galleries. Depending on the visitor’s browser, Final Tiles supports stunning CSS3 animations, too, to make your galleries even more eye-catching.
Adding stunning images to your website creates a solid first impressions that keeps your visitors on site for longer. The longer they stay, the more they read, and the more likely they are to become loyal fans — and having a loyal audience is fundamentally important when trying to build a sustainable brand, and a healthy bottom line.
If you want to add beautiful imagery to your website, every one of these plugins will help. My advice: have a look at what each can do, and consider how the plugin’s functionality might fit with your content and the website you’re building. If you think it will be a good match, give it a go — just be sure to track your bounce rate and time on site metrics before and after installing the plugin to see how your audience respond to the extra images!
What’s your favorite WordPress plugin for adding images? Let us know in the comments section below!