Best WordPress Plugins for Portfolio Websites 2020

Posted On: 8 October 2020
Author: Chelsea
Read Time: 8 Minutes
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Best WordPress Plugins for Portfolio Websites 2020

Portfolio sites are a chance for businesses and creative professionals to showcase their work and attract new clients. What better way to attract potential customers than to showcase real-life examples that demonstrate expertise? Photographers, content creators and web developers can all display projects with the use of a tailored site and the best WordPress portfolio plugins.

WordPress is the ideal platform to use when creating a portfolio site. As it is built with open-source code, WordPress developers have created thousands of plugins that provide endless customisation options and additional site functionality. In this article, we will review some of the best WordPress portfolio plugins and how to use them to impress potential future customers.

wordpress portfolio plugins

What are the Key Elements of a Portfolio Site?

Before we take a look at the plugins themselves, it’s important to think about what a good portfolio site should include. What factors should you consider when creating a portfolio site?

Firstly, skills and services need to be presented clearly, using beautiful visual displays. How you display your work directly represents you, your brand and business, therefore the ability to customise the visual design is important. Colour scheme, layout and even font are all visual elements that need to be considered. A plugin that provides flexibility and an array of options will result in a more unique portfolio site, better tailored to a specific brand.

Beyond the layout, there also need to be testimonials, calls to action and contact options. Portfolio sites are more than just galleries for professional work, the ultimate aim is to attract more clients. An attractive window display may bring customers into the store, but you still need to complete the transaction. Sites must deliver functionality along with an impressive aesthetic.

Why Use Plugins Rather Than Themes?

If you are familiar with WordPress, you may be wondering whether opting for a theme may be an easier option. Themes manage the visual appearance of a WordPress website and you can download a specific portfolio theme with a layout that you like. However, themes are for visual design, not for adding website functionality. Should you decide to change the appearance of your site and use a different theme, you will have to create your portfolio again, from scratch.

Using plugins is a much better way to add functionality to your website. You will not lose your portfolio data if you change your theme. Instead, you can use a portfolio plugin with any compatible themes and extensions.

The Best WordPress Portfolio Plugins

1.     Essential Grid: Most Flexible and Customisable Design

Essential Grid is one of the most flexible and premium portfolio building plugins. It is the number one gallery plugin for WordPress and you can use it to display various types of content in a highly customisable grid format. Not only can you use it for portfolios, but also testimonials, services and eCommerce products. It supports multiple types of media, from standard images to YouTube and Vimeo videos.

wordpress portfolio plugins essential grid

Getting started is remarkably simple, the dashboard is straightforward and you can easily work your way through the tabs. It comes with 30 different templates, called skins, to choose from. If you’d rather have something unique, you can build a skin from scratch or re-work an existing one with the Visual Skin Editor. Essential Grid delivers some of the most extensive customisation options alongside great usability. They have annual pricing options or one-time payments, starting at just $54. It’s a bargain price for such an advanced plugin.  

2.     WP Portfolio: Best for Ease of Use

With WP Portfolio you can import complete website designs that you can white-label to present your work. There are website designs to suit authors, online course designers, pet services and more. Stylistic options are also available with ‘Outdoor’ and ‘Simply Natural’ a couple of the design aesthetics you can choose from.

wordpress portfolio plugins

One of WP Portfolio’s most beneficial features is the compatibility with major page builders such as Elementor and Beaver Builder. Combining the power of WP Portfolio with a page-builder offers real-time previews of the site as it’s being built. It’s a highly flexible plugin that adjusts the portfolio display so that it is optimised across all browsers and devices.

3.     GridKit Portfolio Gallery: Best for Enterprise Websites

GridKit Portfolio Gallery delivers multiple layout styles, including masonry, puzzle and grid layouts, as well as popup, slideshow and zoom options. It also offers a broad range of different animation effects and hover styles to choose from.

wordpress portfolio plugins grid kit portfolio gallery

GridKit developers describe their plugin as the perfect fit for sites looking to display work, products or even team members. It is a highly versatile gallery that you can easily integrate into your site. Additional social integration is easy as GridKit Portfolio Gallery has in-built social icons for you to use across your site.

4.     Visual Portfolio Pro: Best for Artists and Photographers

While the free Visual Portfolio plugin provides a range of features including various grid styles and hover effects, it’s the Pro version that will dramatically enhance your design. The Pro option provides several intricate design styles and effects that create a highly professional look. The pre-loading and caching features also deliver quick portfolio loading times, essential to impress your potential clients. Great for agencies and web designers, the Agency plan gives you all the benefits of the Pro package across an unlimited number of sites.

5.     NextGEN Gallery: Ideal for eCommerce 

One of the first WordPress gallery plugins created, NextGEN Gallery is consistently one of the most popular.  It is a simple yet effective tool for embedding galleries into your site. You can easily insert a NextGEN gallery block into your posts and even upload batch images. It has several editing features included, such as lightbox effects and thumbnail options. If you need more tailored designs, then the customise display settings make it easy to create exactly what you’re looking for.

wordpress portfolio plugins nextgen gallery

The Pro and Plus packages come with premium extensions that brilliantly integrate eCommerce. Multiple payment gateways, price lists and coupons are all Pro features. NextGEN Pro is the only WordPress plugin with automatic print lab fulfilment. Prints can be sent directly to customers from professional print labs, and they don’t charge a commission. Social sharing and image protection are also new features. Pictures can be published directly from Adobe Lightroom, making this an ideal choice for professional photographers and artists.

6. Flix: Most Interactive

The Flix plugin delivers an easily edited blog and video content display to your webpage. Using a Netflix-style feed format, Flix is an interactive display that creates a more dynamic user experience than most static portfolio grids. Rather than simply presenting a grid of images, users are actively engaged as they peruse multiple blogs, videos and more. Navigation is effortless and intuitive, within seconds visitors land on the content that appeals to them the most.

wordpress portfolio plugins flix

A highly versatile tool, Flix can easily integrate into your current website design. If you need a compact, interactive portfolio display for your site, this is the ideal plugin. The feed can be quickly edited and updated to reflect your most recent work.

Flix is also designed with SEO in mind. The pre-set heading structure makes it easy for search engine crawlers to navigate and index your new content, improving your SEO and delivering those all-important rankings. Keen to know more? Check out this article for more information. 

7.     Envira Gallery: Most SEO-friendly Portfolio Plugin

Another popular choice is the Envira Gallery plugin – a feature-packed plugin that’s both powerful and user-friendly. Pre-built image and video gallery templates can be used as they are or customised using the drag and drop builder You can enable slideshows, edit autoplay options and even split galleries into multiple pages to improve load times. Social media and WooCommerce integration come as standard, making it easy for customers to further engage with your business.

envira gallery plugin

Envira Gallery offers some of the best SEO optimisations with a focus on speed, security, metadata and deep links. The plugin creates galleries that are automatically optimised for desktop, tablets and mobile screens. Various security options are available, you can add watermarks to images and password protect individual galleries.

Combine Visual Design and Functionality for a Top-Performing Portfolio Site

The key to an effective portfolio is in designing a display that accurately portrays brand identity and demonstrates a company or individual’s skills and expertise. A plugin that offers the most control over even the smallest design details can help you to create a bespoke portfolio. Bear in mind that what works for a photographer may not be as suitable for a web developer. Hopefully, our list of the best WordPress portfolio plugins has steered you in the right direction for your industry.

As we mentioned previously, developing an impressive visual display is only one step in the process of converting browsers into buyers. Additional site functionality is what turns your beautiful visual display into a powerful weapon in your business arsenal. Establish trust with testimonials and provide easy avenues of contact with social buttons and contact forms. Look for plugins that deliver features such as payment gateways, social buttons and mobile optimisation that make it easier for potential clients to take the next step.