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Image Gallery with WordPress: Best Practices

I have been asked those questions fairly often. How to manage galleries in WordPress? Or to keep Lightroom synchronized with the galleries? How to make sure those galleries will evolve and always work over time (when the theme is changed for example)?

Use the WordPress Gallery

I will start with the most important point: avoid using plugin uploading and managing your images in a way that it is not natural to WordPress. Every image in your WordPress must be in the Media Library.

The best way to create a proper gallery is through the Add Media button in the Post editor. This will create a gallery shortcode containing the identifiers of the images, like this:

[ gallery ids=”1,2″ ]

There is a tutorial on WordPress website about this, here: The WordPress Gallery.

Enhance the WordPress Gallery

Sometimes, the theme makes those galleries nice. Unfortunately, themes are often forcing users to install heavy plugins to manage the galleries instead. Again, make sure you are using the WordPress Gallery.

There are two main choices. The first is to use CSS to style the galleries (there is an old but good tutorial about this here on TutsPlus). The second is to use a plugin that does those enhancements. I will try to keep a list of plugins that do it:

  • Meow Gallery: developed by Meow Apps, it is of course recommended by Meow Apps. This plugin can be installed or uninstalled at any time without impacting your website, it will just impact your galleries layouts and design while it is installed and active. It includes many layouts and options and is designed to be light and optimized.
  • Tiled Gallery Carousel without JetPack
  • Responsive Gallery Grid
  • Photospace Responsive
  • Waiting for input from users. I would like to compile a list of nice plugins here. Please let me know if you know any good plugins in the comments below.

Manage Galleries in a more convenient way

Using the Add Media button might not be the most convenient way. It is better to have a way to gather the images and reference them in this shortcode.

Without Lightroom

The only way is to make the Media Library more visually… usable 🙂 I can recommend only one plugin for now, and it is Real Media Library. It will help you organize your Media, Folders, and Galleries, then you will be able to generate shortcodes. If you know any other plugin that helps you managing media and galleries/collections, please let me know in the comments.

With Lightroom

When Lightroom is used, WP/LR Sync (a plugin that synchronizes Lightroom to WordPress) is a must. The collections you create in Lightroom will be directly usable in the WordPress Gallery shortcode, like this:

[ gallery wplr-collection=”1″ ]
[ gallery wplr-keywords=”10, 20″ ]

There is a “Collections & Keywords” screen in WP/LR Sync in WordPress that helps the users to create those shortcodes.

Any thoughts, questions, recommendations?

Please participate in the comments 🙂 I would like to recommend more useful plugins here, and maybe different ways how to achieve things.

  • Alexander S. Kunz

    Plugins to style the gallery: obviously, Jetpack. It adds Tiled Galleries, Tiled Columns, etc., which look much nicer than the stock WP Gallery. Not responsive unfortunately.

  • Alexander S. Kunz

    As a general thought, for smaller image galleries, don’t underestimate WP’s stock gallery in the traditional “columns” mode. I often use it to show a gallery with a single column, using large images – this makes perfect sense on mobile, where people are unlikely to use a slideshow/lightbox view of the images, and just want to scroll down. On larger screens, people can scroll down (most of them do, since the photos are large enough already), or use the slideshow/lightbox. Many of the blog posts on my site use this, if you’re interested. Essentially, it’s [gallery columns="1" size="large"].

  • MuchFun

    Hi, Jordy, a short list of image plugins I use on my site:

    Tiled Galleries Carousel Without Jetpack:
    As the name says, the Tiled Gallery Carousel functionality from Jetpack but without the necessity to connect to wordpress.com
    https://wordpress.org/plugins/tiled-gallery-carousel-without-jetpack/

    Gallery Widget:
    “Simple widget to show the latest/random images of the WordPress media gallery as a Widget” by Oliver Schaal
    https://wordpress.org/plugins/gallery-widget/

    And last but not least:
    Custom Header Images:
    “A very simple and lightweight Plugin for managing custom header images for pages, posts, archive-pages, and all other possible” by David Stöckl

    https://de.wordpress.org/plugins/custom-header-images/

  • MuchFun

    and another one:

    Really Simple Gallery Widget:
    “Widget to display images attached to a specific page/post or from the entire media library. Includes options for number of images, display order (including true random)…” by Helen Hou-Sandi
    https://de.wordpress.org/plugins/really-simple-gallery-widget/

I recommend you to use WPEngine or SiteGround. They are both excellent hosting services and work perfectly with all my plugins.