What Is Lightbox?
While WordPress is a popular blogging platform, it’s now evolved into a full-fledged Content Management System (CMS) that can be used for practically any application. These include media-heavy websites such as portfolio or video sharing websites. However, the typical ‘gallery’ display of a grid isn’t the only option you can use.
A lightbox is a display option that emphasizes the quality of your media, by using a full-screen display and dimming any non-media elements of the web page. As a result, your visitors will enjoy an overall improved viewing experience.
In this post, we’ll introduce you to lightboxes and their uses. We’ll discuss how to use them for image and video displays, as well as offer a few popular lightbox WordPress plugins and themes so you can begin using them immediately. Let’s get started!
Lightbox Images in WordPress
The images you use in your lightboxes can be of any size or orientation (i.e. portrait or landscape), and the gallery (that is, the configuration of images appearing on the main gallery page) can take various forms. For example, some websites use a grid layout…
…while others use a single-file display of images on both the main gallery page, and within the lightbox gallery.
In our opinion, the best use of a lightbox is to display high-quality images at their full size. This enables you to use smaller sized thumbnails initially, while saving the very best version of your images for those who need the extra quality and size.
If you want to get creative, you can also use the a lightbox gallery to link out to off-site projects and content. Simply add an image or video that links to the content, and you’re all set!
Lightbox Videos in WordPress
Images aren’t the only media you can display using a lightbox. Videos can also be displayed on your website in their full resolution.
Similar to images, videos galleries can appear in either a grid or single-file format. You can also add captions within the lightbox popup:
A lightbox can also be flexible – for example, you can add your own videos, or link out to YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, or whatever your favorite video service is (depending on the plugin or theme). This makes it possible to add all kinds of content to your website, both original and curated.
WordPress Lightbox Plugins
The quickest way to incorporate a lightbox into your website is with a dedicated WordPress lightbox plugin. Let’s take a look at four of the most functional options.
Lightbox Gallery is a simple plugin that can be used to turn your image and video galleries into professional-looking lightbox displays. It includes display configuration and captioning options, while also enabling you to split your gallery into multiple pages.
Using the plugin is simple. Once installed, all shortcode instances of [gallery] will automatically display as lightboxes. You can also implement additional functionality, such as [gallery Lightboxsize="full"] to change the display size and [gallery meta="true"] to display media metadata.
Responsive Lightbox by dFactory is a full-featured lightbox plugin, offering an array of display scripts and automated features. The plugin enables you to automatically create lightbox displays for your images, image links, videos links, and even widget and comments section elements.
As a freemium WordPress plugin, Responsive Lightbox offers plenty of customization and optimization of your lightbox displays, including built-in transition effects and ready-made display themes. This plugin supports the display of many types of content – including images, videos, links, inline content, and HTML.
Overall, Responsive Lightbox is a beneficial addition to any site looking to add lightbox functionality. There is a free version of the plugin available, but the premium upgrade includes a number of other features for just $29.
Much like other plugins, Lightbox will be useful for portfolios, photography projects, and displaying videos (including automatic embeds from both YouTube and Vimeo). You can even customize how your gallery displays, including transitions, slideshow speed, pop-up size, and position.
Lightbox WordPress Themes
While lightbox plugins are often suitable, some themes include this functionality out of the box. You’ll often find gallery and portfolio themes – i.e. ones that optimize the display of images and videos – are a great place to look for lightbox functionality.
For example, Redfolio is a one-page WordPress theme that enables you to display your media in a full-size Lightbox. Whenever you embed an image or video, or link to the full-sized file, you’ll have the option to automatically display it in a lightbox. Even better, the display skin matches the theme’s style to offer a simple and minimalistic look:
Folo is another theme option that includes many portfolio display options, including a lightbox. With Folo, you can incorporate images and videos effortlessly into your website, and can even use the link out to your projects or portfolio pieces directly from the lightbox:
Websites of all kinds can benefit from a lightbox, although they’re best for sites displaying a lot of high-quality media. Given this, those sites will also benefit from the speed increase managed hosting can provide. To learn more about managed hosting and all it can do for you, check out our plans!