Virtual Reality is gaining popularity in the past years, and websites are starting to present their content in VR format. The possibilities are huge and limited only by creativity. Creating fascinating VR websites now became possible even to modestly experienced web developers. Everithing you need to do is install a free virtual tour WordPress plugin and release your creativity.
What can you do with a free Virtual tour WordPress plugin?
There is a significant number of WordPress VR plugins already available to developers. Most of them are commercial paid plugins, basically similar, but each with some specific features. In our test we focused on the free virtual tour WordPress plugin range within the WP Plugin Repository. Those plugins offer the possibility to create quite impressive VR websites, in many cases without the need to buy the full commercial versions. So, what can those free plugins really do? Let’s find out!
Firstly let’s get an idea of all the fields of application where VR websites could find their purpose. As we said earlier, the possibilities are limited only by creativity and here are the top areas of use for virtual tour websites:
- Real Estate Business: VR tours and presentations of houses, apartments etc…
- Tourism: VR tours and presentations of locations, resorts, hotels, holiday rentals…
- Virtual exibitions: VR tours of museums, art galleries and other attractions
- VR fairs: Virtual stands, booths and displays
- Medium and small business: present a business and impress customers using VR technology
- Freelancers: present your skills, sevices and portfolio in virtual reality
Each free virtual tour WordPress plugin currently available is quite capable to create a fully functional VR website for any application mentioned above. Of course, there are some limitations and in case you need more power, you can release plugin’s full potential by buying the full version. Read our review carefully before deciding which WordPress VR plugin is the best choice for your project.
iPanorama 360 Free Virtual Tour WordPress Plugin
iPanorama 360 by Avirtum is a free virtual tour WordPress plugin with over 6000 active installations and a 4.0 average vote (May 2020 data). The plugin gets regular updates and it’s compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
Even though it’s a free WordPress VR Plugin, it’s fully functional with all the features, options and tools available from start. The only limitation of the free version is that it allows to build only one virtual tour. If your project requires more virtual tours, the full version of the plugin is available on the Envato Market for only $29.
Upon installation there’s no need for any set up or plugin configuration, you can jump to creating your VR website right away. iPanorama 360 gets it’s own button in the WordPress Dashboard menu, from where you can start working.
Working with iPanorama 360 WordPress VR plugin
iPanorama 360 is a quite powerful web development tool. Intermediate and advanced developers will be able to squeeze most of the juice of this virtual tour WordPress plugin. Nevertheless, even less experienced WP developers will be able to create virtual tours, thanks to the helpful popup tips that accompany each option and setting.
The creation of a virtual tour starts in the General tab with choosing the tour theme, viewer dimensions and background image. The following tab is Scenes, where you add scenes to the virtual tour and define their properties. There are a couple of scene types to choose from, such as flat or spherical photo, little planet, and few more. The iPanorama 360 virtual tour WordPress plugin also supports Google Street view, which can used as a scene as well. You can add an unlimited number of scenes but keep in mind that each additional scene increases the loading time.
The iPanorama 360 user interface offers plenty of customizing possibilities. The popup tips that appear when hovering the info icons will help you in the work process.
Markers in iPanorama 360 Free Virtual Tour WordPress Plugin
The next step is adding markers to the scene and defining each marker’s functions. Markers are interactive areas of a scene performing an action when hovered or clicked. This WordPress VR plugin offers quite extensive possibilities when defining a marker. Visual styling of each marker is quite simple without the need for any coding. A partial range of Font Awesome icons are available to use as markers or you can even upload a custom image. You can also add custom text to each marker.
From the functional standpoint, a marker can show a popup tooltip and display custom content inside a lightbox when hovered or clicked. For example, you can set a marker to popup a tooltip when hovered and display more content inside a lightbox when clicked. Both tooltips and lightboxes can display any kind of HTML code, shortcodes, embeds etc. Advanced users will find great opportunities using the marker code editor, but less experienced users will take advantage of the built in visual editor when editing popups and lightbox content.
Another function of markers in the iPanorama 360 virtual tour WordPress plugin is to open links or jump to other scenes. For each marker action there are a wide number of animations available. You can add an unlimited number of markers to scenes but try not to exaggerate since too many markers will increase loading time.
Final thoughts on iPanorama 360 WordPress VR plugin
The iPanorama 360 WordPress VR plugin has a couple more advanced functionalities such as adding shapes (images) to scenes and custom CSS, JS or JSON code integration. With all mentioned before it makes this free virtual tour WordPress plugin a essential tool for creating professional level VR tours, presentations and complete websites. We enjoyed using this plugin during our test very much and ideas for new virtual reality websites were just dropping in. iPanorama 360 is simple enough for less experienced users and quite powerful for experienced web developers.
We found no significant downsides while using this WordPress VR plugin. As the free version is not deprived from any advanced functions, we highly recommend this plugin for all single virtual tour projects. To create multiple VR tours you’ll have to buy the commercial version of iPanorama 360 virtual tour WordPress plugin which is worth paying.
- powerful and feature rich
- helpful tooltips and visual editor for beginners
- full HTML editor for advanced users with shortcode support
- unlimited scenes and markers
- custom icons upload
- visual themes
- animated marker actions
- audio support
- free version allows creating only one virtual tour per website
- only partial Font Awesome support
- no gyroscope support for mobile devices
WP VR Free Virtual Tour WordPress Plugin
Second on our test, WP VR by Rextheme is also the second most used virtual tour WordPress plugin available for free download. The plugin has over 5000 active installations and a 4.5 average vote. The current version of the plugin is freshly updated and compatible with the latest version of WordPress (May 2020 data).
Unlike iPanorama 360, the free version of this WordPress VR plugin is not limited to creating one vritual tour You can create unlimited virtual tours, but with a limit of 5 scenes per tour and 5 hotspots per scene. The free version of WP VR also limits the number of tools and options when creating virtual tours. Many less demanding projects will fit into those limitations. To unleash the full potential of this iPanorama 360 you can buy the full version with pricing plans starting at $49.
Upon installation, there’s no need for customizing any plugin settings. You can start creating virtual tours right away, by clicking a nice new blue icon appearing in your WordPress Dashboard menu.
Working with WP VR Free Virtual Tour WordPress Plugin
As the plugin authors declared, the tour builder user interface is optimized for ease of use and we agree with that statement. The user interface is clean and simple, so you won’t spend too much time figuring it out. There are only a couple of general setting to configure as first step of the VR tour creation process. In the next step scenes are added to the tour, again simply and quickly without too many preferences to customize.
The only thing we miss here is some on-screen help in form of item descriptions or popup as seen while working with the iPanorama 360 virtual tour WordPress plugin. That would facilitate and speed up the work process even more, specially for less experienced users. No need to worry, even without it the user interface is simple enough to understand.
Creating and configuring hotspots in WP VR
Same as markers in iPanorama 360 virtual tour WordPress plugin, hotspots are interactive areas of a scene, that perform an action when hovered or clicked. A hotspot will display a popup tooltip when hovered and open a lightbox with custom content when clicked. Following the ease of use principle, adding hotspots to scenes in WP VR is simple and quick. All you have to do is position the hotspot inside the scene, optionally add a Font Awesome icon class and define the hotspot’s behavior.
Hotspot’s behavior is defined by adding some content to the On Hover and On click fields. Those fields accept custom HTML code, meaning you can use links, images, embed videos etc. Unfortunately, there’s no support for shortcodes which partly limits the content that can be displayed. Hotspots can also be used as links to other scenes or web pages.
The WP VR plugin hotspot editor has no advanced options to define the behavior or style the visual appearance of hotspots. That can be a good thing because it simplifies and speeds up the virtual tour creation. In the other hand, hotspots, pop ups and lightboxes look rather basic and unstyled. No problem for more experienced web developers that will manage to style the visual appearance by adding some custom CSS code tho the website. We’d like to see a couple more styling options here as in the iPanorama 360 virtual tour WordPress plugin.
Final thoughts on WP VR Free WordPress Plugin
The WP VR WordPress VR Plugin is designed to facilitate the creation of virtual tours and that’s what it delivers. The creation of VR websites is really simple and fast, with the only downside of limited styling and customizing possibilities. The free version of WP VR is still a very good tool for less experienced users and less demanding projects.
If you need more control and power, the full version of WP VR virtual tour WordPress plugin offers plenty of additional premium features such as: unlimited scenes and hotspots, gyroscope support, 900+ custom color hotspot icons, zoom level and scene boundary control, custom control buttons, galleries, etc…
- unlimited tours
- simple and fast tour creation
- full Font Awesome support for hotspot icons
- scripts loading only on user defined pages
- 5 scenes / 5 hotspots per tour free version limit
- limited visual styling possibilities
- no shortcode support
Which Virtual Tour WordPress Plugin is faster?
Nowadays that website loading speed matters more and more, as final test we measured the speed of both plugins. We used Pingdom Tools for speed measurement. For the purpose of this test we created a identical scene using exactly the same elements in both reviewed WordPress VR plugins. The scene consists of a panorama image, and three markers containing pure HTML text, an image and an embedded YouTube video. Let’s see which virtual tour WordPress plugin loads faster with less impact on the overall website loading speed.
For the loading speed comparation test we created the same scene in both plugins. iPanorama 360 is on the left and WP VR on the right.
The speed test showed that each virtual tour WordPress plugin generates pretty much the same number of server requests, that vary from 35 to 40. Nevertheless, the WP VR virtual tour loading speed was around 10-15% faster than the same tour made with iPanorama 360. In our test, the WP VR scene loaded in 0.85 seconds and the iPanorama 360 scene loaded in 1 second. This is not a big difference in loading speed times, and you can take it in consideration only if loading speed optimization matters a lot for your project.
Our free virtual tour WordPress plugin test conclusion
We consider both iPanorama 360 and WP VR awesome plugins in general and enjoyed working with them. As tools for creating VR websites and virtual tours both plugins serve their purpose well. With both plugins you will be able to create impressive VR projects.
iPanorama 360 will suit the best more experienced and advanced developers, that will be able to use the full potential of this virtual tour WordPress plugin. The only limitation of the free version is that only one virtual tour can be made.
WP VR is intended for less experienced developers for it’s simplicity and those who don’t like spending too much time on customizing a wide variety of settings and options. The free version of this WordPress VR plugin offers the possibility of creating unlimited tours, but limits the number of scenes and hotspots per tour. It is also deprived of some advanced customizing options. Less demanding VR projects can be successfully built within those limitations.
We’re constantly testing and reviewing the most useful WordPress plugins for all kinds of web development projects. To discover more great plugins that will help you in your work, please visit our WP Plugin Reviews Archive.