Stunning Free and Premium WordPress Slider Plugins

Stunning Free and Premium WordPress Slider Plugins

Sliders are the way to go if your site is image-heavy, or you just want to get your content front and center when visitors land on your website.

However, sliders tend to get a bad rap. And no wonder why – there are too many sites with simple sliders that display a new image every five seconds. Boring.

These sites fail to take advantage of the multitude of features and functionality sliders – even free ones – now offer. From layers and animations to parallax and full-width video, sliders, and especially homepage sliders, provide an engaging and eye-catching way to welcome visitors to your site.

The collection below features both popular free and premium options with excellent user ratings.

(If you’re still not convinced, the top 10 most popular themes on Themeforest all come with homepage sliders.)

What is your favorite plugin? Is there a plugin missing from the collection below? Let us know in the comments.

  • Meta Slider (Free + Premium)

    Meta Slider is far and away the most popular slider available in the WordPress Plugin Repository, with more than 1 million downloads. When I last downloaded Meta Slider in February, there were 467,000 downloads. That’s a 100 jump in downloads in just six months.

    This easy-to-use plugins comes with jQuery sliders – Nivo Slider (responsive, 16 transition effects, four themes), Coin Slider (four transition effects), Flex Slider 2 (responsive, two transition effects, carousel mode), Responsive Slides (responsive, fade effect only).

    Creating a new slider is simple and the user interface is intuitive. Simple select which slider style you want to use and the plugin will provide a shortcode you can insert anywhere in your site. You can drag and drop to re-order slides.

    There’s a premium version of Meta Slider available, Meta Slider Pro, which allows layer sliders, YouTube and Vimeo sliders and a live theme editor, as well as updates and support. A single license will set you back $19 and unlimited licenses costs $99.

    Interested in Meta Slider (Free + Premium)?

  • WOW Slider (Free)

    Unlike other sliders, Wow Slider is unusual in that you need to download a separate program, WOWSlider Wizard to create a slideshow. Still, it hasn’t stopped more than 300,000 people download this popular plugin.

    Using the wizard is fairly straightforward. Once you’ve put together your slideshow, you can then upload it to the plugin. You can then copy and paste a shortcode to insert your slider anywhere on your site.

    Other features include responsive design, fully-accessible as a pure CSS slider if Javascript is turned off, and touch swipe support.

    Interested in WOW Slider (Free)?

  • Smooth Slider (Free)

    Smooth Slider lets you display both images and content in a slideshow, with a customizable background and slider intervals.

    Features include a responsive design and transition effects, including fade. It also support custom slider, category slider and recent posts slider. Template tags, shortcode and a widget are included.

    Setting up a new slider is fairly straightforward, though all the different options can be a bit overwhelmingly. Still, the user interface has a simple design and once you get your head around all the different features it’s easy to create several sliders.

    Interested in Smooth Slider (Free)?

  • Easing Slider “Lite” (Free + Premium)

    Easing Slider “Lite” is the second most popular free slider plugin in the WordPress Plugin Repository with more than 400,000 downloads.

    This plugin allows you to set the dimensions and duration of your slider and includes the option to make your slideshow responsive. There are two transition effects: fade and slide. Like many other sliders, you will need to use shortcode to add your slider to a post or page.

    It’s an extremely lightweight plugin at just 16KB.

    You can only create one slider with this plugin. If you want more you’ll need to upgrade to Easing Slider Pro. Licenses start at €19.99 for one activation.

    Interested in Easing Slider “Lite” (Free + Premium)?

  • Soliloquy (Free + Premium)

    Soliloquy is marketed as “The best responsive WordPress slider plugin. Period.” It’s a big call, but one that’s not far off the mark.

    It’s simple to set up, you don’t need to download any software to create sliders, and you don’t need to mess around with setting. It just works.

    Easily add images to your sliders, select slider size, speed and hit “publish.” Then copy the resulting shortcode onto any page or post where you want to display your slider.

    There’s a premium version of this plugin available, which allows you to create HTML/video slides, complete embedded video support for YouTube and Vimeo, widgets, and access to add-ons (such as full lightbox and image filters). Pricing starts at $19 for a single license.

    Interested in Soliloquy (Free + Premium)?

  • Slider Revolution (Premium)

    Slider Revolution is the most popular slider plugin available on CodeCanyon with more than 33,000 downloads.

    And it’s popular for good reason. This responsive slider plugin features a huge variety of customizable transitions, including zoom and parallax, fancy 3D, fade and simple slide. It includes the ability to drag and drop captions onto sliders with an animation builder, so you can position text exactly where you want.

    A new feature is the ability to pull slider content from posts and custom posts. You can create templates that determine how the title, date and other details of a post is being displayed in the form of captions using a flexible wildcard system. There are also pre-made post templates.

    ThemePunch, the guys behind this plugin, have been clever with the marketing for Slider Revolution, which is included with many themes on Themeforest.

    Interested in Slider Revolution (Premium)?

  • RoyalSlider (Premium)

    At first glance, Royal Slider seems like any other slider plugin, but when you dig a little deeper past it’s fairly bland marketing, there’s more than meets the eye.

    For a start, some fairly prominent brands , such as Honda and Ralph Lauren, use the plugin on their sites. It’s also reached more than 20,000 sales on CodeCanyon, with an average rating of 4.64.

    So why is this responsive image gallery and HTML content slider plugin so popular? It features a mobile-friendly design and supports touch swipe navigation. You can dynamically populate data from Flickr, Instagram or featured posts or any post type, even WooCommerce products.

    Other features include video embedding, lazy loading, move or fade transitions, smart auto play, and four editable skins.

    While this slider plugin doesn’t include dozens of fancy transitions, there is a focus on performance, accessibility and stability. And for $22, you get bang for your buck.

    Interested in RoyalSlider (Premium)?

  • Nivo Slider (Premium)

    The team behind Nivo Slider sure know how to write compelling marketing copy:

    “The Nivo Slider is world renowned as the most beautiful and easy to use image slider on the market. There is literally no better way to make your website look totally stunning.”

    Wow. Some big claims there. But does it live up to expectations? Yes and no.

    Nivo Slider is easy to use and setting up sliders is a straightforward and painless process. There are multiple slider types and you can choose between creating manual sliders, category and sticky sliders, and gallery sliders. There’s also image cropping so you don’t need to worry about your images being too big or too small because they will all display the same size in the slider.

    Built-in themes are included, or you can choose to add your off styling with CSS.

    Overall, this slider plugin offers some great standard features, but doesn’t stack up to bigger players like Slider Revolution.

    Interested in Nivo Slider (Premium)?

  • SlideDeck (Free + Premium)

    SlideDeck 2 lets you create responsive and easily customizable sliders. Rather than templates, SlideDeck 2 has “lenses,” which are preset styles you can use to make your content look great.

    The free version allows you to pull content from your posts, YouTube, Flickr and Pinterest. The premium version gives you 10 more content sources, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Vimeo.

    Slides can be easily customized to suit your site’s theme, including navigation options, custom fonts, transitions and effects, and interactions. For more, you can add your own CSS.

    Interested in SlideDeck (Free + Premium)?

  • Slider PRO (Premium)

    Slider Pro is a feature-packed plugin, to say the least. This responsive plugin offers 150+ options, 100+ possible transition effects, and 15+ skins. It also includes the ability to add animated layers and static layers, and dynamic content.

    You can load content into slides from Flickr, YouTube, and Vimeo. Other features include lazy loading, touch swipe, keyboard navigation, and Multisite support.

    A nice feature of the plugin is the ability to preview a slider before publishing it.

    Interested in Slider PRO (Premium)?

  • LayerSlider (Premium)

    The LayerSlider website features the most impressive and stunning looking slider of any of the plugins in this collection.

    This responsive plugin offers a huge feature list, including 200+ transitions (are 200+ transitions even possible?!), 13 skins, and three navigation types.

    LayerSlider also boasts super smooth hardware accelerated CSS3 transitions with jQuery fallback, lazy loading, unlimited layers with image, video, audio, text or custom HTML content, powerful API for further customization, and the ability to add multiple sliders to the same page.

    This plugin is also Multisite compatible. The website features some great demos for inspiration.

    Interested in LayerSlider (Premium)?