Q: Question for anyone who uses WordPress. Is everything based on plug-ins such as image galleries/portfolio? I am having no luck creating an art portfolio site. Any help would be awesome. I have watched a million tutorials and nothing is working. Thanks.

A: The easiest way to create an image gallery is to categorize it by pages and use the built in features that are native to WordPress.

Below are some examples that I have done, but the basic idea is to display a thumbnail gallery that automatically links to a larger version of the image with a caption at the bottom. The goal is not to do this in old-fashioned HTML, which would require that you create thumbnails for each image and hand code all the links to the pictures. This could be a monstrous task, and many errors are likely to happen by the nature of the manual updates. Instead, we will upload all of the pictures (resized first as a best practice) and let WordPress handle the rest for us.

Joli Beal, Plein Air Artist:

Anthony Clarkson’s Grim Wonderland

In this project tutorial, we will be utilizing WordPress’ built-in page hierarchy features and the built-in gallery feature, along with installing several small helper plugins. You will have a different page for each category in your portfolio, for example, by show, year, or even media. There is also very good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value for putting each category on a separate page.

In the first step, we set everything up by installing two plugins: My Page Order and List Pages Shortcode. I use these plugins on almost every site I build, and I have found them to not conflict with other plugins. We will also set the foundation for our page hierarchy by creating pages for each of our categories.

Step 1: Creating Subpages and Creating Links and Managing Order

Before you move onto the next step, make sure that you resize your images to the largest size that you would like to be displayed on your site prior to uploading them to WordPress. Although this is not necessary, I do recommend this as a best practice, as in general, you do not want to make your higher resolution images available. You should also put them all in a folder on your desktop, organized in folders the same way you would like them on your site. This saves time and resources when creating and viewing your site. It is also nice to watermark your website inconspicuously on a bottom or side edge, especially to build your following, also with an all right reserved. Keep it small and tasteful as to not distract from your artwork.

In this next video, I will show you how to upload your pictures and insert your gallery.

Step 2: Uploading Images and Inserting a Gallery

The last and final step is to install the lightbox plugin that will allow the larger versions of your images to be displayed with a dark background, the caption, and so that you can navigate through all the larger images.

There are many plugins that you can use for this that will do slightly different things, but make sure whatever it is that it works in conjunction with the WordPress gallery shortcode. The one I recommend, for starters, is called WP JQuery Lightbox. The only requirement is that when you insert the gallery after uploading your pictures is that you link to the image file rather than the attachment page.

Step 3: Install WP JQuery Lightbox Plugin

Now you just need to go back to every page and upload/insert all the pictures and you will have the basics for a wonderful website that showcases your work in a very simple and easy to update way. By using the built-in features in WordPress, you are allowing for the most secure and fail-proof way to keep your site running and easy to update.

The beauty of using the gallery shortcode is that the gallery is dynamically generated for the viewer based on all of the attached page images. You may add to the images that have already been uploaded, change the descriptions/title/captions, rearrange the order by drag-and-drop, and edit them until your little heart is content and once that shortcode is on that page the gallery will always be generated for you.

Published by Suzette Franck

Suzette Franck has been in web development for over twenty years; she started making hand-coded HTML websites on geocities with font tags and tables back in 1995. Since then, she has taught herself CSS, Sass, PHP, MySQL, as well as becoming a Wordpress expert; evangelizing and presenting at over twenty-two WordCamps across the country and multiple WordPress meetups in Southern California where she resides, about all aspects of building and maintaining sites on WordPress. Suzette is passionate about WordPress the application as well as the WordPress Open Source Community, and loves to code and teach others the wonders of WordPress. She is a purveyor of lowbrow art, and when she is not WordPressing, she is painting or visiting Los Angeles art galleries to add more work to her growing art collection.

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