When building a photography website, many people want to keep costs low. That’s understandable. Free WordPress plugins such as NextGEN Gallery can help improve the appearance and functionality of your site without breaking the bank. However, you may be limiting your site’s potential by not opting for premium alternatives.
NextGEN Pro is a premium plugin that includes a collection of features and extensions particularly useful for photographers. Upgrading to NextGEN Pro enables you to enhance and expand your website's capabilities. For many professionals, the price is more of an investment than an expense.
In this post, we’ll discuss the main features of NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Pro as well as their differences. Then, we’ll help you decide which is best for your photography site's goals. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Pro
Both plugins can improve the design and functionality of your site. Understanding the details of each one can give you a better idea of which is the more sensible option for your specific needs.
With over 27 million downloads, NextGEN Gallery is the most popular WordPress gallery plugin. It’s free, and can be downloaded via the WordPress Plugin Repository or installed through your WordPress dashboard. NextGEN Gallery includes an easy-to-use management system that enables you to edit and arrange images, group galleries into albums, and upload images by the batch:
NextGEN Gallery includes six image display layouts for you to choose between, or mix and match:
- Thumbnail Gallery
- ImageBrowser Gallery
- Slideshow Gallery
- Compact Album
- Extended Album
This plugin is an effective option for simple websites that want aesthetically pleasing galleries to display photos. For example, if you want to create a portfolio site, add multiple images to your blog posts, or share slideshows from your latest travels, NextGEN Gallery has you covered.
NextGEN Pro is a premium extension of our flagship plugin. You can install it right alongside NextGEN Gallery to incorporate additional features for displaying, promoting, and even selling your photos. It takes basic photography sites to the next level and turns them into full-scale professional hubs:
In addition to adding a dozen more gallery layouts to your library, NextGEN Pro includes:
- E-commerce capabilities
- Automatic Print Order Fulfillment
- Digital Downloads
- Social Sharing
- Coupons and Pricelists
- Image Commenting
- Image Protection
- And more
This version of our plugin is for photographers or other visual artists who want to use their website for more than just basic gallery displays. For example, if you want to manage your wedding photography business or sell fine art prints, NextGEN Pro makes it easy to do so.
There are multiple pricing plans to choose from. They range from $99 per year to a one-time payment of $499.
Deciding Between NextGEN Gallery and NextGEN Pro for Your Photography Site
If you don’t sell your photos and have no interest in doing so, NextGEN Gallery may be enough for you. However, beyond the e-commerce options NextGEN Pro offers, there are other factors to consider.
For example, our Image Protection feature safeguards your photos and helps prevent content theft by disabling right-clicking and image dragging. This can help you ensure that no one else takes credit for your hard work, or worse, sells it for their own profit.
Some other features that are well worth the upgrade include:
- Automated Print Order Fulfillment. Simplify and enhance the e-commerce experience for both you and your customers through automated print order fulfillment. NextGEN Pro is the first WordPress plugin to offer this feature. Customers can purchase images directly from your gallery, whether it be for digital download or print sale. You can have peace of mind knowing your print orders are being automatically fulfilled and shipped by the NextGEN Pro print lab partner, White House Custom Color.
- Pro Lightbox. This extension makes social sharing on your site significantly easier. With Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest buttons as well as individual comment sections displayed within your galleries, your photos can get more exposure and engagement from visitors.
- Premium Gallery Displays. You can take your photography site beyond basic galleries and choose from over a dozen display options to help your photos stand out. NextGEN Pro includes masonry tiles, blogstyle, and filmstrip layouts, just to name a few.
All our NextGEN Pro licenses include upgrades and support for a specified period (one year or lifetime access). You can upgrade through our website or via your WordPress dashboard by clicking on Upgrade to Pro under NextGEN Gallery's plugin options.
There are many free WordPress plugins you can use to spruce up your photography site. However, limiting yourself this way may end up costing you in the long run, as you'll miss out on features that can increase engagement and revenue.
As we discussed in this article, the free NextGEN Gallery plugin is best if you’re only looking for basic image display options for your WordPress site. However, NextGEN Pro is the preferred tool if you want professional-grade galleries, content theft prevention, social sharing buttons, and advanced e-commerce features.
Do you have any questions about upgrading to NextGEN Pro? Let us know in the comments section below!
Will Morris is a staff writer at WordCandy.co. When he's not writing about WordPress, he likes to gig his stand-up comedy routine on the local circuit.