A feature of WordPress which often gets an oversight is the built in gallery creation tool. Out of the box WordPress has a very impressive gallery builder which displays images in a clean and professional manner.
This feature is often overlooked because of the wide range of impressive gallery plugins that are available. However, I wanted to talk about some of the features offered by the built in gallery tool. There are benefits to creating WordPress galleries without any additional plugins.
How to create a WordPress gallery
First let’s talk about how they work. Creating a gallery in WordPress is as simple as can be. You just upload media as you normally would when creating a post. When your images are uploaded you can multi-select the images you want to make a gallery from and click the ‘Create Gallery’ button.
This will take you to a page where you can edit the appearance of the images in your WordPress gallery. You can set custom thumbnails and change the thumbnail sizes. It allows you to add captions and re-order the images if needed.
The features are fairly basic compared to some of the plugins available, however the appearance of your gallery will be very clean and professional with minimal effort:
The galleries are easy to edit within your post and page editor, and this allows you to manage galleries and display images in a professional way without needing to download a plugin.
Benefits of WordPress galleries compared to gallery plugins
WordPress has some fantastic gallery plugins with extensive features. NextGEN Gallery is arguably the most popular gallery plugin with cover a million downloads. Whilst this plugin has a massive amount of features, depending on the purpose of your website a plugin may always offer more than you require for the purpose of displaying images on your site.
NextGEN Gallery and similar plugins tend to come with multiple gallery management tools including lightbox effects, slideshows and other styles to display your images. A plugin can be impressive and offer more than the built in gallery creation tool.
The benefits of using the built in WordPress galleries include its ease of use, topped with the fact that you don’t need to install anything on your site to make it work. Because this is a feature already built in to WordPress core it does not carry some of the burdens a large plugin may. Gallery plugins are typically large packages with many features and files, so they can slow your site down with heavy use.
As with any WordPress website, the more plugins you install, the more loading the server has to do. Most plugins are well coded and as optimised as they can be so you may not actually suffer much, if any slow down. If there is a feature your site can already handle, such as gallery creation, do you really need the extra plugin, since it would only do a job the site can already manage?
It ultimately comes down to preference and whether you need the extra features of a plugin for your galleries, but before installing one we recommend giving this overlooked feature of the WordPress core a try. The built in gallery tool is simple to use and looks just as professional as many of the impressive plugins that are available.
Update – 3/3/2017
Kayleigh recently gave a talk about Galleries and Image optimisation at MWUG (Manchester WordPress User Group) and it was recorded. The video is below!