Whether you run an internet magazine, web shop or any other site that publishes articles, using a WordPress post carousel plugin is good common practice. Presenting your articles to visitors in a nice animated scrollable carousel will significantly enhance your website’s user experience. Therefore, we tested and reviewed the most popular free WP posts carousel plugins to help you choosing the right one for your project.
How does a WordPress post carousel plugin work?
Each WordPress post carousel plugin is based on a carousel slider script that displays your posts in a horizontal grid that can be scrolled manually or automatically. Firstly, the WP posts carousel plugin query your posts by certain criteria. Secondly, it displays those posts on the front end of the website in a carousel format. The format of the posts inside the carousel usually can be configured in the plugin settings. In most cases the displayed format includes the post thumbnail, the title and basic metadata as the author and published date. Additionally, the carousel can be configured to display the post excerpt, category, tags and some other post data. In case of a Woocommerce products carousel, it will usually display the product image, title, description and price.
All free WP posts carousel plugins we tested have quite similar post navigation. They all include the auto play function that automatically move a predefined number of posts in and out of the stage. A nice add on to auto play is the pause on hover function which stops the carousel movement while hovering with the mouse pointer over it. Each WordPress post carousel plugin offers manual post navigation in form of left and right scroll button and navigation dots usually located under the carousel. All carousels offer the possibility of finger swipe navigation on devices with touch screen. All post navigation controls can be enabled or disabled in the plugin settings.
Carousels are a great way of displaying multiple posts or products on a relatively small part of the screen. Posts are browsed by swiping the screen or using the scroll buttons.
How did we performed the free WP posts carousel plugins test?
To perform our free WP posts carousel plugins, firstly we picked a couple of most popular plugins from the WordPress Repository. We tested each plugin by the following criteria.
- simplicity of setting up
- visual appearance
- post carousel functions and features
- plugin weight and impact on website loading speed
Each WordPress post carousel plugin we tested does it’s job well as expected. Nevertheless, each plugin have some specific features of it’s own. Please read our review carefully in order to choose the right plugin for your specific project needs.
Carousel Slider plugin for WordPress
Upon installation, this WordPress post carousel plugin gets it’s own section in the left column menu of the WP Dashboard. That’s where you create, and later edit and manage your post carousels. The carousel editor user interface is well made and easy to use. Functions and features are grouped into a couple of panels for easier managing. There are a couple of carousel types to choose form, such as post, Woocommerce product, image or video. Posts can be queried by category, tags, date range and id, or you can choose to display the latest posts. This WP posts carousel plugin can also query products by a wide variety of criteria.
Let’s just mention few other interesting settings. For the post featured image you can choose the thumbnail size and enable lazy loading, which will improve the loading speed. There are few navigation settings that let’s you customize navigation buttons and dots style and behavior. You can also enable and customize the auto play function. Finally, the responsive design settings allow you to define a different number of posts visible on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.
The default visual appearance of the carousel is quite nice. The plugin will apply the theme styles for post title and excerpt. This WordPress post carousel plugin offers just a few visual customization options, so you might need to apply some custom CSS to additionally adjust the appearance. There are no options to choose the post format in the carousel, so the plugin will by default display the post thumbnail, title, excerpt and metadata. For Woocommerce products it will display the product image, title and price, but you can also enable the “Add to Chart” and “Quickview” button. Unfortunately, no option to display the product description. Finally, this WP posts carousel generated only 8 server requests, which made it the fastest plugin in our test.
- the carousel can display both posts and products
- nice default look and behavior
- simple user interface, easy to configure
- extensive post filtering options
- lots of customizable features
- very lightweight and fast
- only few visual customization options
- no post elements enabling/disabling options
- no product description in carousel
WordPress Carousel – Responsive Image Slider plugin
WordPress Carousel – Responsive Image Slider by ShapedPlugin has around 40.000 active installations and a high 4.5 average vote by over 200 WP developers. That makes it, together with the previously reviewed Carousel Slider, one of the most popular free WP posts carousel plugins.
This WordPress post carousel plugin has it’s own section in the WP Dashboard menu column, where you cane easily access the carousel editor and manager. The carousel editor is visually clear and very simple to use. Options and settings are logically grouped into a couple of tabs and easy to understand. There are many options to configure the post carousel behavior, but some useful options are not available in the free version. For example, this free WP posts carousel plugin can show only latest posts and Wocommerce products. You have to upgrade to the pro version if you need any post filtering functions. The default visual appearance of the post carousel is very elegant and it can be additionally customized from the editor. The pro version offers even typography customization if needed.
The WordPress Carousel – Responsive Image Slider user interface is elegant, intuitive and easy to use, even for less experienced users. Unfortunately, the free version lacks of post filtering options.
In our testing environment, this WordPress post carousel plugin generated up to 20 server requests, which is not very lightweight and fast. Even though this is a very good, nice looking and simple to use WP posts carousel plugin, if you’re optimizing your web site for loading speed, you might want to check some other options.
- the carousel can display both posts and products
- very nice default look and behavior
- simple, easy to configure user interface
- visual customization options
- no post filtering (available in Pro version)
- no product description in carousel
- not as lightweight as some other WP carousel plugins
Smart Post Show WordPress post carousel plugin
Smart Post Show by ShapedPlugin made it’s way into the top three most popular free WP posts carousel plugins with over 10.000 active installations. This WordPress post carousel plugin scored an 4.5 average vote among over 60 WP developers.
This plugin comes from the same development team as the previously reviewed WordPress Carousel – Responsive Image Slider. Both plugins share the same very simple and nice user interface of the carousel editor. They also share the very elegant carousel default visual appearance and additional visual customization options. The differences between these two free WP posts carousel plugins is in some parts of their functionality. Smart Post Show can display only posts and pages in the free version. This carousel plugin offers extensive post filtering options, which we missed in the previously reviewed plugin. Visual customization settings and post formatting options are also quite extensive and simple to configure. The paid Pro version of his WordPress post carousel plugin offers even more customization options and also offers the possibility to display Wocommerce products.
Smart Post Show features a nice and simple to use carousel editor with plenty of post filtering options.
In the website loading speed test, Smart Post Show generated 8-10 server requests, depending on it’s configuration. It makes this WordPress post carousel plugin one of the fastest and lightest we tested. Comparing to the previously reviewed plugin coming from the same company, Smart Post Show is significantly faster.
- simple, easily configurable user interface
- very nice default look and behavior, with extensive customizing options
- post filtering options
- post format customization
- lightweight and fast
- no products display (available in Pro version)
WP Posts Carousel free plugin
WP Posts Carousel by Marcin Gierada / Teastudio has around 8.000 active installations and a 4.5 average vote in the WordPress Plugin Repository. The plugin has a couple of specific functions of it’s own, which makes it worth considering.
Unlike, competitive free WP posts carousel plugins, this plugin doesn’t have a dedicated carousel editor within the WordPress Dashboard. To create a post carousel, you have to use the Classic editor or the Classic Gutenberg block. By pushing the WP Posts Carousel button in the Classic editor you access the shortcode generator that generates a shortcode according to the settings you choose. This procedure is not as user friendly as seen at other plugins with a separate carousel editor. Nevertheless, this WordPress post carousel plugin settings and options are quite extensive with lots of customization possibilities.
The WP Posts Carousel Free plugin has a lot of customization and filtering options, but some less experienced users won’t find it easy to use. Instead of a dedicated carousel editor, this plugin uses a shortcode generator.
The WP Posts Carousel plugin can display only posts and pages, not products. Post filtering and formatting options are quite extensive with lots of customizing possibilities. There are also plenty of carousel behavior settings to configure according to your needs. What we liked the most is a wide choice of sliding animations you can choose from. We haven’t seen that option in any other free WordPress post carousel plugin settings. There are no visual styling options but the default look of the carousel is quite decent and there are also a couple of visual themes to choose from.
This WordPress post carousel plugin generated 16 server requests in our testing environment. That doesn’t position the plugin among the fastest and lightest, but it’s neither the slowest in our test. The plugin could slightly affect your website’s loading speed.
- nice default look and a couple of visual themes to choose
- extensive post filtering and formatting options
- wide choice of sliding transition animations
- no dedicated carousel editor, but a shortcode generator within the Classic post editor
- not as user friendly as other WP post carousel plugins
- no products display
- less lightweight than some competitors
Post Slider and Carousel with Widget WordPress plugin
Post Slider and Carousel with Widget by InfornWeb is another popular free WordPress post carousel plugin. 8.000 active installations and a 5.0 average vote are indicating that this plugin is worth checking out.
Upon installation this WordPress post carousel plugin gets it’s own section in the WP Dashboard left column menu where you can create the carousels. Unlike most other similar free WP posts carousel plugins, this one doesn’t have a dedicated carousel editor. Instead it uses a shortcode generator which creates shortcodes according to the preferences you selected. The shortcode generator is not that user friendly as a dedicated carousel editor, specially when you change the carousel parameters. In that case you have to manually replace the previously generated shortcode on your web page.
The Post Slider and Carousel with Widget is another good carousel plugin to try out. Offers extensive filtering options but lacks on some visual customizing and bahavior options. Uses a shortcode generator.
The plugin offers a fair amount of post filtering and carousel behavior options to customize. There are no visual customization options, but the plugin comes with two very nice templates to chose form. The default appearance is one of the best we’ve seen and the text over photo template is a nice change from the usual post carousel format. This WordPress post carousel plugin can display only posts, not pages, products or other media as some competitor plugins. Speaking of speed, this WP posts carousel plugin generated 14 server requests, which is considered modestly lightweight.
- nice default look and two good looking visual themes
- post filtering and carousel behavior settings
- widget available
- no dedicated carousel editor, but a shortcode generator
- not as user friendly as some other WP post carousel plugins
- can display posts only, not products, etc.
- no additional visual customization options
Which plugin is the best for your website?
We tested the five most popular WP post carousel plugins available in the WordPress Plugins Repository for free download. That doesn’t mean there are no other good carousel plugins, but they might be new and not yet as popular as the plugins we tested. If you don’t find any of the plugins reviewed in this article suitable for your project just keep looking for a WordPress post carousel plugin that suits you the best.
All WP post carousel plugins do their job well and display your posts in a sliding carousel format. The differences between the plugins are in their visual appearance, specific features, ease of use and loading speed impact. So instead of declaring an overall winner, let’s see which WordPress post carousel plugin is best in specific cases and situations.
- Carousel Slider: probably the best allaround soulution, suited for those who want to display both posts and product with one plugin and those looking for the most lightweight option.
- WordPress Carousel – Responsive Image Slider: nice looking and simple to use plugin that can display both posts and products. Lots of visual customization options, but no post filtering in the free version.
- Smart Post Show: another nice and simple to use WordPress post carousel plugin with lots of options to configure, both visual and functional. It is also very lightweight. Very good solution if you need to display posts only (product display available in paid version)
- WP Posts Carousel: good looking plugins with lots of options to customize. Not as simple and lightweight as most other plugins but offers a wide variety of transition animations to choose from. Displays posts only.
- Post Slider and Carousel with Widget: another good plugin to try out with two nice predefined templates, a widget for sidebars and a shortcode generator