The Best WordPress Sliders In 2021 (6 Of The Most Popular WordPress Slider Plugins Reviewed)

Last Updated on 3rd November 2021 by James Thomas
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WordPress sliders can be a great way of displaying pictures and content without taking up too much space on your website. Instead of having loads of images and content cluttering up your page, and overwhelming your customers, you can use a slider to break them up. This steady slideshow can then be stylised to create a more visually appealing website.

As well as saving space on your page, sliders can also be used for highlighting specific content, organising your page, presenting professional portfolios, showcasing e-commerce sales, and much more. You can even use some of them to display videos or other forms of media.

But with so many of them out there, and with many being slow, and hard to use, how do you find the best slider for your WordPress website? Well, we’re going to help you by going through 6 of the most popular slider plugins. We’ll provide an honest opinion of them based on their ease of use, functionality and speed.

The Most Popular WordPress Slider Plugins

1. Elementor Slides

wordpress slider

You might already be aware that we’re big fans of Elementor at Square Internet. If you want to know why, then check out our article on just how easy it is to build a WordPress website with Elementor.

One of the primary advantages of using Elementor over the classic WordPress builder is that all your plugins get incorporated into one. So instead of having lots of plugins clogging up your WordPress website, and slowing things down, you can just use Elementor, which has everything you need in the form of ‘widgets’. Widgets allow you to drag and drop functionality on your page, and control how it looks and works visually.

One of their many in-built widgets is the slides widget. Elementor Slides is a great WordPress slider and, if you already have Elementor Pro, then you don’t need to look any further. It’s simple to use and requires no additional plugins, meaning that it does not affect your sites loading time.

The interface is incredibly user-friendly. Once you’ve dragged the widget into its desired location, you’ll find the clean and simple widget panel easy to navigate. You don’t need to know any  code or have development experience, but there’s also some easy to follow tutorials in their Elementor Academy to help get you up to speed quickly. Or, if you want a crash course in how to use slides quickly and effectively, check out our course on Udemy WP The Easy Way, where there’s a killer video tutorial!

It has plenty of customisable options including animations and special effects, transitions and integrations, and the option to turn autoplay on oroff.

If you’re already familiar with Elementor then you’ll know that they also have a responsive mode built into the Elementor editor. This is where you can switch between desktop, mobile and tablet views, and check that your page is fully responsive. The same thing applies for your slider.

Elementor Slides might not have as many features as some of the other WordPress sliders on this list (there isn’t an option to add video, for instance) but the ease of use and loading speed more than makes up for it. It has everything you need to create a beautiful slider. And if you’re wanting to add video in a slider style, then there are other Elementor widgets that you can use (such as their media carousel widget).

So, here’s a roundup of the features:

  • Built into the Elementor plugin
  • Easy to use
  • Superfast loading time
  • Variety of customisation/ styling options
  • Transition options
  • Animations and effects
  • Dynamic content
  • SEO friendly
  • Responsive
  • And more

Price: Elementor Pro is $49 per year for 1 website. There’s a free version of Elementor if you want to check out its design first, but this doesn’t include the slides widget.

2. Smart Slider 3

wordpress slider

Smart Slider 3 is one of the most downloaded WordPress slider plugins, and for a good reason. It has many features, is easy to use and loads fast.

Like a lot of sliders on this list, Smart Slider 3 comes with a drag and drop layout format. This means that creating sliders is quick and easy. And to make things even easier,they have 180+ templates you can start with!

It is also great for beginners, as it automatically loads a video tutorial, when you download it, on the plugin page. 

Smart Slider 3 offers all the customisation options that you would expect from a slider plugin such as colour management, colour gradients, box shadows, typography, styling and layout alignment. But it also offers further advanced customisation options such as 24 layer types and a variety of animations and effects.

Other great features of this plugin are that it has image optimisation, SEO and video incorporation. With the pro version, you can also create carousels, blocks and even full page designs.

And most importantly, it’s fast. With its image optimisation, image compression and lazy load, this is not a plugin that will impact your site speed much at all.

In summary, Smart Slider 3 offers:

  • Drag & drop builder
  • 180+ templates
  • 24 layers with advanced customisations
  • Animations and effects
  • Video
  • Automatically responsive
  • In-built SEO optimisation
  • Dynamic content
  • Integrates with WordPress, Elementor, WooCommerce, E-commerce, Youtube
  • And more

Price: Free. But you’ll have to go pro for a lot of the advanced features (one-off payment of £37 for 1 site).

3. Soliloquy

wordpress slider

Soliloquy is another great WordPress slider option. This slider plugin has more features, and a sleeker design, than most of the plugins on this list.

You’d expect that to mean that it has a slower loading time, but that just isn’t the case. Apart from Elementor Slides, Soliloquy is the fastest slider plugin. Its powerful performance is due to a hybrid technique that they use called dynamic asynchronous ajax preloading. This means that they upload your cover slide first, and the others are loaded asynchronously. Cool trick.

This WordPress slider plugin has a vast amount of customisation options and boasts 100+ configurable hooks and filters. Like Smart Slider 3, it also has prebuilt slider templates that you can base your designs off.

Something that we especially like about Soliloquy is its easy integration with WooCommerce/ Pinterest/ Instagram/ and more. Via WooCommerce, you can make a product slider linked straight from your shop.

You are also able to schedule your slider to display at different dates/ times and activate image protection (disabling the right click of your users, so that your images can’t be stolen). These are a couple of unique features that give you a bit more control over your site.

And the best thing? You need absolutely no code or development experience to build your slider. The interface is incredibly user-friendly. 

Soliloquy features:

  • Drag & drop builder
  • Responsive for mobile, tablet, and desktop
  • Slider themes (pre-built templates)
  • Integrates with Woo-commerce, Instagram, Pinterest, PDF and more
  • Dynamic content
  • Video
  • Animations and effects (including Lightbox)
  • 100+ configurable hooks and filters
  • Schedule slides for specific dates/ times
  • Image Protection (disable right-click)
  • SEO friendly
  • And more

Price: From $17 per year.

4. Slider Revolution

Slider Revolution is another popular slider plugin with lots of features. It offers 200+ templates and 2000+ images/ videos that you can use in their object library and 25+ add ons/ special effects.

Although this might sound great, unfortunately it comes at a price. It’s overcomplicated and not as easy to use as the other slider plugins on this list. 

Your website will also be slower as a result. And a slower website means a greater probability of visitors “bouncing” (people leaving your site on the first page). 

The Slider Revolution developers are clearly aware of this problem as they even have an article on how you can optimise their plugin for faster loading times. But, we don’t think it’s worth the effort. There are better, easier to use and faster plugins on this guide that have similar, if not the same, features (and don’t need you to spend hours optimising for speed and performance).

Slider Revolution features:

  • Drag & drop builder
  • 200+ slider templates
  • Social media integration
  • Video
  • Animation effects and transitions
  • 25+ add ons such as scroll video, distortion, paintbrush
  • 2000+ images/ videos in their object library

Price: From £29 per year or £59 one-off payment.

5. Royal Slider

On the other end of the spectrum to Slider Revolution is Royal Slider. Whilst Slider Revolution overcomplicates things with too many features and a difficult to use interfact, meaning slower loading times, Royal Slider is the opposite.

This isn’t a plugin that has loads of features or transition effects, but it also isn’t a plugin that’s going to slow your site down. Royal Slider is focused on performance and stability, rather than fancy features. And in our opinion, it’s much better to have a simple, fast plugin, than a complicated, slow one.

On the other hand, if you were wanting a slider with loads of functionality, then this might not be the plugin for you. It has basic customisation features, but you may need to have some CSS knowledge for further editing.

It hasn’t got the most user-friendly interface, either.

What we especially like about Royal Slider, though, is the easy way you can create a slider from your blog posts. Simply choose the blog posts that you want to be featured and Royal Slider will make a slider of their featured images and titles.

It also supports touch navigation, smart lazy loading, YouTube/ Vimeo videos and much more. So this is a great slider plugin option (but it’s better for people with a little bit of coding experience, to get the most out of it).

 Royal slider features:

  • Simple interface
  • Touch navigation 
  • Responsive
  • Customisable 
  • Dynamic content
  • Youtube and Vimeo integration
  • Speed and transition effects
  • SEO responsive
  • Create a slider from your blog posts
  • Create Flickr gallery

Price: from $14.

6. Meta Slider

Lastly, another popular WordPress slider plugin is Meta Slider. This plugin is simple to use, with lots of features, and, like Smart Slider 3, has a free version. It also needs no coding experience.

The plugin is ordered into 4 modes, each with different transition effects, styles and settings:

Flex Slider: responsive, 2 transition effects, carousel mode
Responsive Slider: responsive and lightweight
Nivo Slider: responsive, 16 transition effects, 4 themes
Coin Slider: NOT responsive, 4 transition effects

Whilst each of these modes offers a great, unique selection of functions, we also found the way they are divided to be a bit confusing. We’re not sure why they would make some modes responsive, and some not, or some effects exclusive to certain modes. But we like the idea of having a specific lightweight responsive mode, for optimising mobile and tablet.

There’s also a couple of add ons for Meta Slider that you can download from the WordPress plugin page: Meta Slider Lightbox and Meta Slider schedule slides (set start and end date/ time of slideshow). These options are great but are nothing special. Every other plugin on this list offers Lightbox, and Soliloquy also offers scheduling, without downloading anything extra.

 Meta Slider features:

  • Easy interface
  • 4 modes
  • Video. HTML, Youtube and Vimeo integration (pro version)
  • Dynamic content (any content type)
  • Create a slideshow from WordPress posts
  • Animation effects and themes
  • 11 slider themes
  • WooCommerce integration
  • SEO friendly

Price: Free. Or from $39.50 for additional features.

What is the best WordPress slider plugin?

In conclusion, we recommend Elementor Slides as the best WordPress slider. It’s incredibly easy to use, has all the features you need to make a beautiful image slider, and won’t impact your site speed at all. Elementor Pro also comes with so many other widgets, such as media carousel, so you won’t need to download any other plugins. This means a faster site speed all-round.

However, if you are still wanting a WordPress slider plugin outside of Elementor, then we recommend Soliloquy or Smart Slider 3. Both of these are solid options for fast and user-friendly WordPress slider plugins, with lots of features.

If you found this article useful, why not check out our piece on the The 7 Best Chatbots For WordPress In 2021 – and start capturing leads on your website while you sleep.

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