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How do I make a nice looking and yet functional gallery in WordPress?

Over the years that I’ve been using WordPress to make websites, I have often tried to find a decent way to make a photo gallery that meets the following:

  • Appealing layout
  • Pictures are proportionally correct and not squished on one side
  • Pictures can be shown as a thumbnail gallery
  • When one of the pictures is clicked on it opens in a larger view in a lightbox that lays over the top of the thumbnail gallery
  • Pictures are easy to add to the admin for a novice user
  • The pictures automatically resize to a smaller dimension when uploaded

I have tried many solutions each time I have tried to accomplish this. At one point I found a nice gallery plugin that worked well. Then the developer stopped development.

One of the more recent plugins that I had tried was NextGEN Gallery. This seems like a good plugin that has a lot of promise. The problem was that I could never get it to work right.

Well, recently I was in the process of trying to update my a website for my friend Joe Sherman at www.PhotographicArtistry.net.

When I first built out the site for him, I set up a basic gallery but was unhappy with the way it worked and looked.

So recently I went on a quest to get this photo gallery thing right.

Thankfully WordPress recently had true gallery functionality included in the core. This is great news.

As a side note: I also found some good information about using the built in Gallery Shortcode.

Now when you Insert Media in a page or post there is a “Create Gallery” option. This makes it real easy to add galleries as part of the standard WordPress install without needing any additional plugins.

So far WordPress Core functionality solves the following:
Appealing layout:

  • Pictures are proportionally correct and not squished on one side
  • Pictures can be shown as a thumbnail gallery
  • Pictures are easy to add to the admin for a novice user

However there are still a couple pieces missing:

  • When one of the pictures is clicked on it opens in a larger view in a lightbox that lays over the top of the thumbnail gallery
  • The pictures automatically resize to a smaller dimension when uploaded

After doing a bit of searching I finally came across these two plugins:

  • Fancy Gallery Lite
  • Resize At Upload Plus

Fancy Gallery Lite Creates a really nice popover lightbox effect and Resize At Upload Plus automatically resized the photos to the size you set for each side.

So that’s my solution at this point for creating nice photo galleries in WordPress.

Please share what you use in the comments. Maybe I’ll like what you are using better.