When it comes to creating image-heavy websites such as those used by photographers, a key task is choosing how to organize and display your content. There are many WordPress plugins that can help with this. However, deciding between them can be challenging.
The most popular WordPress plugin for this purpose is NextGEN Gallery. It offers a collection of image display and organization options that make managing, showcasing, and proofing photos easier. The premium version, NextGEN Pro, includes even more features, such as e-commerce extensions.
In this post, we’ll review NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Pro and explain how they work. We’ll also provide a look into the main features and benefits of each. Let’s get started!
Introducing NextGEN Gallery
NextGEN Gallery is a WordPress plugin that was created by Imagely in 2007. Since then, it’s received more than 1.5 million downloads per year:
This free plugin is a gallery management system that makes it easy for photographers and other visual artists to upload and manage photos on their WordPress sites. It currently has over 1 million active installations and a four-and-a-half-star rating in the WordPress Plugin Directory.
With NextGEN Gallery, you can:
- Batch upload image files
- Import metadata
- Add, arrange, and organize photos
- Edit thumbnails
- Group galleries into albums
It includes three main gallery styles: slideshow, thumbnail, and imagebrowser. Each offers options for you to control the size, transitions, timing, and lightbox effects for your layout.
Once you upload your images, you can group them into any of these types of galleries. You can also choose from two album options, compact or extended.
NextGEN Gallery also offers a plethora of documentation and support to its users. These resources make working with the plugin simple and straightforward, even if you’re new to WordPress or unfamiliar with image galleries.
This plugin gives you the ability to creatively display your images with more customization and control than would otherwise be possible. Plus, there’s a wide range of premium upgrades you can take advantage of by investing in NextGEN Pro.
Upgrading to NextGEN Pro
NextGEN Pro is a paid upgrade for the NextGEN Gallery plugin. It offers an extensive collection of add-ons to expand the functionality and features that are included with the free version.
Some of the main extensions included in NextGEN Pro that aren’t available with NextGEN Gallery are:
- E-commerce options: You can easily integrate e-commerce features to turn your photography site into an online store for prints and digital downloads alike.
- Auto-print fulfillment: NextGEN Pro is the first and only WordPress plugin to offer automatic print lab fulfillment to ship physical copies of your images directly to your customers.
- Image protection: You can add watermarks to your images as well as disable right-click functionality to prevent content theft.
- Ten premium image galleries: In addition to the layouts included with the free version, you also gain access to mosaic, tiled, masonry, filmstrip, blogstyle, and slidescroll galleries.
You can also utilize advanced features such as proofing and image deep linking. The more complex your photography website, the more it makes sense to upgrade to NextGEN Pro.
This plugin is best suited for users who are looking to do more with their sites than create a basic digital portfolio. For example, professionals who want to enable clients to purchase prints online will appreciate NextGEN Pro’s e-commerce features.
If you want to upgrade to NextGEN Pro, Imagely offers a few different pricing plans to choose from, including lifetime or annual payment options:
The package that makes the most sense depends on the number of sites you have, as well as which premium features you’re most interested in. If you choose either the Pro or Lifetime plan, you’ll also gain access to Imagely’s suite of WordPress photography themes.
How to Style, Secure, and Sell Your Images With NextGEN Pro (3 Key Features)
Now that we’ve covered the basic features and functionalities of these plugins, it’s time to take a deeper dive to see how you can use them for your own site. Let’s look at how you can style, secure, and sell your images with NextGEN Pro.
1. Display Images in Clear and Organized Galleries
The main draw of using an image gallery plugin is the ability to display your photos in a gallery with a clean, organized manner. With NextGEN Pro, you have a variety of layout options to choose from.
Once you install and activate the plugin, you can insert the gallery of your choice directly from your WordPress dashboard. You can also configure the style and settings for the display based on the purpose of your content:
The plugin also lets you save your custom galleries and albums to reuse and quickly insert them into new pages and posts.
Under Gallery Settings, you can choose the number of photos per page, as well as how many columns are used to display them. You can also tailor image dimensions and add lightbox effects.
2. Prevent Stolen Content With Watermarking and Right-Click Disabling
As a photographer, one of your main concerns with sharing your images online is probably content theft. Fortunately, NextGEN makes safeguarding your work easier.
The Image Protection features include the option to watermark your images, as well as disabling right-click functionality on the front end:
These features are beneficial because they streamline the process of image protection. Activating the no-right-click option helps minimize concern about visitors illegally downloading your creative work.
In the event thieves find their way around this restriction, a watermark will make sure your name is still attached to the photo. This is also handy for ensuring clients pay properly for their prints or downloads.
3. Sell Prints and Downloads From Your Photography Site
Perhaps the biggest advantage of NextGEN Pro that distinguishes it from other photography plugins for WordPress is its e-commerce features. With the premium version, you can sell prints and downloads directly from your site:
As we mentioned, NextGEN Pro is the first and only WordPress gallery plugin to offer automatic print fulfillment. This eliminates the need to use a third-party site or additional plugin to sell and ship your images to customers.
There are also options to automate sales tax, configure and set pricelists, and add a shopping cart and checkout features directly in your galleries. This makes it easy for you to turn your photography portfolio into a self-service e-commerce platform.
Organizing and managing photography sites and similar image-heavy web content can be stressful. Fortunately, WordPress plugins such as NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Pro make it easier.
As we discussed in this article, NextGEN Gallery enables you to expand your image display options. It includes easy-to-use features for showcasing, protecting, and sharing photos. It also provides a simple process for upgrading to the Pro version to unlock premium extensions, including those for e-commerce and print fulfillment.
Do you have any questions about NextGEN Gallery or NextGEN Pro? Let us know in the comments section below!