6 Best Slider Plugins for WordPress Compared

If you’re in the market for a slider plugin for WordPress then I really don’t envy you. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have anything against sliders, I don’t. It’s just that picking the best slider plugins is much like picking the best car. There’s just wayyyy too many options out there.

 
Exhibit a)

Best slider plugins on WordPress.org

Exhibit b)

Sliders on CodeCanyon

And on top of that, each of them has its unique pros and cons, so there basically isn’t any single best solution across the whole market. And with over 1500 different slider plugin for WordPress out there, ain’t nobody got time to examine them all.

Obviously, we need to narrow things down, and that’s what we’re doing today.

 
In this comparison, we’re looking at the 6 most popular and (presumably) best slider plugins for WordPress on the market.

We’re going to be comparing their:

  • features,
  • how easy they are to set up and use,
  • speed and performance – how fast they load,
  • mobile-optimization and -friendliness,
  • prices,
  • what makes each of them different.
Best Slider Plugins for WordPress Compared
 
The two things in bold above is what I personally believe to be the most important characteristics of a good slider plugin in 2016 and going forward.

In short, the one thing that a slider plugin is supposed to achieve is make the user experience better, and the content more appealing to the visitor. For that reason, you just can’t afford a plugin that’s sluggish, difficult to use, or doesn’t look right on mobile, and especially going into 2017.

These days, more than 80% of people use smartphones as their main devices for accessing the internet. If your slider doesn’t work on mobile, you will only frustrate your visitors, instead of making them more engaged with your content.

Okay, so which of the 1500+ plugins available are we testing?

Comparing best slider plugins for WordPress:

This short-list of the best slider plugins for WordPress has been compiled based on the overall number of sales and active installs. In other words, we’re subscribing to the idea that one of the easiest ways to find out how good something is in relation to the competition, is to have a glance at how many people use it, and how happy those people are with it.

Therefore, this list features only the plugins that have been on the market for a longer while, and have a proven track record of happy customers or users (we have free plugins on this list too).

 

 
Our 6 best slider plugins for WordPress are:

 

1. Features

Here’s a simple comparison of what’s available with each of the slider plugins (I tried focusing on the most important features):

 
Best Slider Plugins for WordPress: Features
Nivo SliderSoliloquySlider RevolutionLayerSliderHuge-IT SliderMaster Slider
* not available in the free version
Multiple slidersyyyyyy
Mobile-friendly slidersyyyyyy
Manual slidersyyyyyy
Sliders from image galleriesynynn *n *
Sliders from outside sources (Flickr, Instagram, etc.)nyynn *n *
Sliders from post categoriesynyyn *n *
Sliders from sticky postsynynn *n *
Video slidesnyyyn *y
HTML slidesnyyyn *n *
Pre-made slider templatesyyyyn *y
Set custom stylesyyyyyy
Control the image sizeyyyyyy
Transition effectsyyyyyy
 
Here’s how I’d classify this lineup of best slider plugins and the differences between them … albeit just my personal opinion:
 
nivo slider pro plugin
Nivo Slider is a classic content slider that lets you select a range of images, and have them turned into an interactive slider. This plugin is set on making the core functionality work reliably and in an easy to grasp way.
 
soliloquy
Soliloquy is a slider plugin with more focus on customizations and alternative ways of adding slider content. For instance, you can create product sliders, dynamic sliders, use Instagram images, and more. This makes it a good solution for anyone who needs to use the slider for more types of different content.
 
slider revolution
Slider Revolution seems like an entirely different kind of product. Where most of the other players on the list focus on showcasing what could be called classic slider blocks, Slider Revolution is more about giving you a complete hero section for your site design, which you can use to display all sorts of things. Some of the possibilities include subscription forms, headlines and taglines, social media streams, product info blocks, product demos, even animations. In a way, it’s more of a site-building/design plugin than just a slider.
 
layer slider
LayerSlider puts a lot of focus on the way each slide can be customized. Basically, you get a canvas where you can adjust every pixel of any given slide individually. You can choose specific fonts, layouts, even transitions for the text itself independently of the rest of the slide. This can be useful for more advanced slider implementations.
 
 
Huge-IT Slider (free) seems like a very limited version. You don’t get much more than just the possibility to select an image and add to it a title, a description, and a link. Plus, if you don’t set the image sizes perfectly, the aspect ratio is going to get distorted.

Master Slider (free) is a great out-the-box solution for basic image-based sliders that you simply want to link with something (post, page, external link). It gives you a simple set of features, but they’re extremely easy to use. The pre-made templates are also very good and helpful if you want to create a slider fast.

2. Performance

As in, how fast each of these slider plugins for WordPress loads using the same images and (more or less) the same appearance.

To find out how these slider plugins perform in the real world, I’ve decided not to rely on the official demo content, but instead set up a test site, and put the plugins directly against each other in a controlled environment.

To do this, I signed up with SiteGround using their StartUp plan (on a server based in Amsterdam), and then proceeded to build a slider with each plugin.

The site used for the test:

  • WordPress 4.6.1
  • Twenty Sixteen
  • No other plugins activated apart from the slider plugin being tested.
  • The sliders placed on a basic page with no additional text added.

The template slider used:

  • Due to the differences in the features that each plugin provides, I decided to go with something really simple, so just a basic slider: 3 slides, same images, titles and descriptions (or captions) for each slide. I’m also trying to achieve the same look through the plugins’ settings.

Here’s a still frame of one of the slides:

slider frame

Like I said, basic.

The test:

  • Page load tests with Pingdom to get the average load times. Run from two locations.
  • GTmetrix tests to get the number of requests and the overall size of the slider pages.

Here are the results:

 
Best Slider Plugins for WordPress: Performance
Nivo SliderSoliloquySlider RevolutionLayerSliderHuge-IT SliderMaster Slider
* image optimization applied on the fly
Stockholm, Sweden490ms538ms754ms537ms660ms515ms
NYC1.1s1.15s1.24s1.23s1.14s1.25s
Requests202224222122
Page size1.4MB1.2MB1.5MB507KB *1.5MB606KB *

Note. Please try not to look at the total page size for each plugin, but rather at the differences from plugin to plugin. A big part of that page size are the images themselves This was intentional since I wanted to see if any of the slider plugins performs image optimization on the fly.

 

3. How easy to use the plugins are

While doing the tests above, a few things became apparent when it comes to the ease of use of the plugins.

Basically, if you want to build a slider quickly then you’re best off with either Nivo Slider or Master Slider.

  • Master Slider gives you basic features that are uber-easy to use, but you can’t do much more other than image-based sliders.
  • Nivo Slider gives you a handful of cool features regarding how you can create various sliders … based on posts, categories, images, and etc. The interface itself is based more on forms and drop-down fields, rather than visual representations of the final slider you get. However, it’s just as fast to work with.

nivo settings

The other players – Soliloquy, Slider Revolution, and LayerSlider, are more geared at providing you with a whole page design tool, rather than a slider plugin (plus they have great extension add-ons).

slider revolution templates

I mean, the slider functionality is all there, but that’s only a part of the overall feature set.

This has both pros and cons. On the one hand, you do get more features that can potentially benefit you in many different ways. But on the other, if you just want to build a cool slider quickly then you might find that difficult, and especially if you’re just starting your adventure with the plugin.

Lastly, the Huge-IT Slider plugin. I did want to focus on the free version only (just like with Master Slider), just so we can have something without a price tag on this list of top 6. In all honesty, though, even taking that into account, I’m still not a fan of Huge-IT. The plugin seems archaic to me, and you can get much better results with Master Slider if a free solution is what you want.

In the end, I’d rank the ease of use of each plugin like so:

 
Best Slider Plugins for WordPress: Ease of Use
Nivo SliderSoliloquySlider RevolutionLayerSliderHuge-IT SliderMaster Slider
10988910

 

4. Pricing

Here’s the pricing table:

 
Best Slider Plugins for WordPress: Pricing
Nivo SliderSoliloquySlider RevolutionLayerSliderHuge-IT SliderMaster Slider
* there are pro versions available
** lifetime updates and support
$29$19$25$20$0 *$0 *
$59$49$120$100
$99$99
$249 **
 
Important things to know:

  • Nivo Slider and Soliloquy are sold through their own respective distribution channels, not marketplaces. This means that you get support and updates for as long as you’re subscribed. The initial payment gets you a full year of support and updates.
  • Slider Revolution and LayerSlider are CodeCanyon products. As part of your license, you get six months of support, but lifetime updates.
  • The free versions of Huge-IT Slider and Master Slider come with traditional WordPress.org support via a forum.

Conclusion

I really don’t want to be cliche, but naming the absolute top plugin among these six really is impossible, and it all comes down to your specific needs.

However, when it comes to my personal opinion, my favorites are:

 
Best classic slider plugin:
Click Here to Reveal
Best layout/design tool for WordPress that has slider functionality included:
Click Here to Reveal
Best free slider plugin:
Click Here to Reveal
 
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Also, feel free to ask in case you have any questions about these best slider plugins for WordPress.

* This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and then purchase the product, we’ll receive a small fee. No worries though, you’ll still pay the standard amount so there’s no cost on your part.

 

Karol K

Creates content, manages CodeinWP's team of writers and makes sure that every piece of content you see on this blog looks great! / Author of "WordPress Complete" / Professional yerba mate drinker / @carlosinho
  • Sallie Goetsch

    I’m not at all sure that popularity is an indication of quality. If you don’t like the Huge-IT slider, then it probably doesn’t belong on your best-of list even if many people have installed it. Anyone can look up installation statistics on their own. What they can’t necessarily do, especially for commercial plugins, is take a look at the code, or figure out how many resources get loaded and whether they are loaded on every page or only on pages with actual sliders.

    I also think that you’re going to be able to write a much better, more helpful article, or series of articles, if you start out by saying “Best for What?” If you just want a simple image slider, you’d be daft to install Slider Revolution or LayerSlider. You could use the free versions of Soliloquy or of Meta Slider, or use Master Slider. If you want a post feed slider, or a slider that works with, say, The Events Calendar to show only upcoming events, your choices are also going to be different. If you want to create slides with a lot of layers and effects, then that again is going to be a different group.

    Finally, you should show that Soliloquy has a free version, and include the pricing for the pro versions of Huge-IT and Master Slider, and say a few words about the different options. Or perhaps only compare free sliders to other free sliders and paid sliders to other paid sliders. Your pricing table doesn’t indicate what the different prices get you: more features, more installs, longer support period, etc. The pricing table isn’t very helpful without knowing what you’re getting for each price point with each plugin.

  • Really it’s nice information shearing. I really comfortable for the performance of Soliloquy. I am facing some challenges for content forms. Recently I found WPForms lite plugin. It is very easy to use contact form plugin.

  • I’d love to see Smart Slider 3 on this comparison list too. It does a shedload, but it does offer some decent caching. It would be good to understand the performance of it. As a product I love it, but speed is very important to me.