Whether you’re an entrepreneur, travel blogger, or photographer, you need a photo-heavy website to highlight certain images. Attempting to design a media library without expert coding skills feels overwhelming. The NextGEN Gallery plugin for WordPress offers an easy way to upload photos and manage galleries on your website.

Below, the Connective team dives into who should consider using NextGEN Gallery, its benefits versus the other best photo gallery plugin options, and how to set up your first NextGEN Gallery.

What Is NextGEN Gallery?

If you wanted to display images on your website without a plugin tool, you could spend days designing sections, containers, div blocks, pagination rules, styles, block elements, CSS grids, and display styles. NextGEN Gallery is a WordPress plugin (maintained by Imagely) that helps you create a basic slideshow of individual images preconfigured to look great on your WordPress website.

The NextGEN WordPress editor lets you start with templates, edit thumbnails, adjust visual settings, manage images, add external links, and customize the display, so everything looks just right. You can adjust all NextGEN Gallery settings using a beginner-friendly visual interface. Once you publish, website visitors can scroll through multiple images and gallery pages.

screenshot of a page on nextgen that allows you to select what type of gallery you want

Who Might Want To Use the Photo Gallery Plugin?

From photographers selling images to food bloggers, all WordPress users looking to show off high-quality images would benefit from a photo gallery plugin. You should consider NextGEN Gallery if you want to:

  • Sell digital or physical photographs or artwork online
  • Display product images on your e-commerce website
  • Share image galleries with family, friends, and followers
  • Transform your website’s existing images into a user-friendly design
  • Reduce on-page clutter and distractions

Comparing WordPress Gallery Plugin Options

Many WordPress gallery plugins exist. NextGEN galleries have much to love, though you might prefer one of the popular gallery plugin options below.


modula home page

Modula and NextGEN Gallery are the most popular gallery plugin options, making it hard to determine which is right for you. Whereas Modula leans toward anyone desiring stylistic effects, NextGEN Gallery focuses on business use cases, including direct image purchasing, e-commerce functionalities, and automatic printing.

Because of their e-commerce features, the Modula galleries boast better out-of-the-box appearances, drag-and-drop editing, loading speeds, and customization options.

When creating galleries, NextGEN requires you to use a separate management system (in addition to the WordPress media library), which is excellent for uploading hundreds or thousands of images. This process may be redundant if you only want to use a dozen photos. Modula offers a quicker upload process, preferable for smaller projects.

When selecting photo layouts, NextGEN’s premium version offers the most options, though Modula provides the best flexibility. The free NextGEN Gallery layouts are limited compared to the total number of layout and display varieties you can get from Modula.


home page of envira

Another one of the best gallery plugin options for WordPress is Envira Gallery. The key differences between Envira Gallery and NextGEN Gallery include:

CSS allowance: Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a coding language for adding custom styles to your website. Envira allows you to enter custom CSS, while NextGEN doesn’t.

Dropbox importing: Dropbox is software that lets you store photos on a connected cloud. Envira lets you import images from Dropbox into your gallery, whereas NextGEN doesn’t.

Folder scanning: When you add pictures to an existing folder on your computer, you may want to upload new items without adding duplicates. Folder scanning examines your folder contents and only uploads new items. NextGEN Gallery offers folder scanning, though Envira Gallery doesn’t.

Gallery types: NextGEN doesn’t offer Polaroid, Instagram, or video galleries. Envira includes these types, though it doesn’t have Image Browser, Slideshow, Filmstrip, Blog Style, or List Album galleries.

E-commerce features: WooCommerce is a WordPress e-commerce plugin that NextGEN doesn’t include. You can use WooCommerce with Envira, though you can’t use the e-commerce features that NextGEN includes, like paid digital downloads, coupons, price lists, automated tax calculations, or automated print fulfillment.

Advanced features: Both gallery plugins include different enhancements. NextGEN offers image commenting, while Envira offers zooming on Lightbox effects, slideshow audio, visitor printing, and password-protected galleries.

Note that both offer Adobe Lightroom plugin compatibility.

How To Set Up NextGEN and Upload Images

create a gallery button on nextgen

To begin displaying images with the NextGEN WordPress gallery plugin, you must create a new gallery. Next, you can add gallery images, pick gallery displays, manage gallery settings, and customize everything to look just right.

To create a gallery…

  1. Open a page on your website.
  2. Click “Add Gallery.”
  3. From the insert gallery window, click “Upload Images” to add a name and pictures.
  4. After adding images, select the left tab labeled “Insert Into Page.”
  5. To add the new gallery to your WordPress site page, select the gallery name you created.
  6. Pick your preferred display style based on the template images.
  7. Select “Customize Display Settings” to create thumbnails and adjust other appearances.
  8. Click “Insert Gallery.”
  9. Select the “Gallery” tab from your WordPress dashboard to access all your galleries. From this area, you can add images, manage gallery settings, create albums (gallery collections), manage tags, and adjust your global gallery settings.

You can watch a tutorial on this subject here.

How To Customize Your NextGEN Gallery

Customization settings help you fine-tune your galleries. Use the instructions below to complete each task.

Displaying Galleries With Tags

Tags define where and how different images or galleries appear. For example, if you use the tag “sun” on a few pictures, you can create entire galleries or albums around this specification.

To add tags to images, type in the keywords separated by commas. WordPress accepts tag cloud information when you copy images from other platforms. For example, if you already have tags in an image’s metadata in Adobe Lightroom, you won’t need to rewrite them.

A tutorial that expands on this topic is linked here.

Sorting Images

sorting images in nextgen

To sort gallery images…

  1. Open your gallery.
  2. Click the “Sort” button.
  3. Drag and drop images into your preferred order.
  4. Use a presort category to sort images based on time, title, tags, etc.
  5. Click “Update Sort Order.”
  6. To sort all galleries using the same parameters, visit the “Other Options” tab within the “Gallery” menu.

A video showing this process is here.

Featuring Images

set a featured image in nextgen

To feature an image from a gallery on a page, you must choose a WordPress theme that offers this function. Next…

  1. Scroll down to the “Featured Image” box on the bottom-right side of your post editor.
  2. Click “Set NextGEN Featured Image.”
  3. Select the gallery and your image.

You can find a link here to a video that illustrates this process.

Adding Text and Watermarks

watermarking in nextgen

Watermarks prevent website users from stealing your images. To add watermarks…

  1. Open the “Other Options” tab from the Gallery menu.
  2. Click “Watermarks.”
  3. Decide whether you want a text or image watermark.
  4. Pick the position on your image.
  5. Type in your text or insert the image.
  6. Adjust the text font, color, and size.
  7. Click “Refresh Preview Image” to see how it appears.
  8. Save the watermark.
  9. Go to the “Manage Galleries” tab and select your preferred gallery.
  10. From the “Bulk Action” menu, click “Set Watermark.”
  11. Click “Apply.”

This link here leads to a video demonstrating this process.

Tips for Optimizing Your NextGEN Gallery

image optimization in nextgen

Optimizing images helps you reduce load speeds. Many platforms can’t handle full image sizes, though NextGEN Gallery doesn’t have this issue. You should always upload all images at their full resolutions, especially if you plan to sell prints.

For the best optimization, follow these steps…

  1. Under “Other Options,” click “Image Options.”
  2. Toggle on “Automatically Resize Images After Upload” and add your dimensions.
  3. Toggle on “Backup the Original Images.”
  4. Now you can feature efficiently compressed resolutions on your website while selling the highest-quality versions to purchasers.

Here is a tutorial that further details each of these steps.

Does NextGEN Heavily Affect Loading Speeds?

NextGEN doesn’t heavily affect loading speeds. Because of the intelligently designed image compression system above, your website can load quickly without compromising image quality. When compared to competitors, NextGEN offers the fastest loading speeds.

Note that the outdated Legacy Templates no longer provide such functions. WordPress and NextGEN phased out the Legacy Template feature in recent updates to improve usability.

Do You Need Help Designing Your Web Gallery?

At Connective, a Houston, Texas, web design agency, we want to help you create a beautiful website that shows off your brand. If you need help setting up your NextGEN Gallery or want to build a site from scratch, contact Connective to discuss your needs.

Rodney Warner

Founder & CEO

As the Founder and CEO, he is the driving force behind the company’s vision, spearheading all sales and overseeing the marketing direction. His role encompasses generating big ideas, managing key accounts, and leading a dedicated team. His journey from a small town in Upstate New York to establishing a successful 7-figure marketing agency exemplifies his commitment to growth and excellence.

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