by Raelene Morey on July 16, 2019

Smart Slider 3 Free vs Pro: Which One Should You Pick?

smart slider free vs pro

Sliders, slideshows, carousels — no matter what you call them, they are an incredibly versatile design tool that enables you to showcase images, video, and other dynamic content beautifully and more effectively, while maximizing the space on your website.

Whether you need a simple way to display a slideshow of photos, or you want to a bold video header complete with animation effects and buttons, sliders provide an eye-catching way to promote your products or services and let visitors know what your site is all about.

Currently, the highest rated slider plugin for WordPress is Smart Slider 3. With a 4.9 out of 5-star rating at WordPress.org, it has more than 400,000 active installs and is also the fastest growing plugin, according to WPTrends.net. Smart Slider 3 also comes as a Pro version. So you might be wondering if the free version is so highly rated, is it worth upgrading to Pro?

In this post, we’ll take a look at the free and Pro versions of Smart Slider 3 in detail so you can decide which is the best option for you.

Introducing Smart Slider 3

Smart Slider 3 is a powerful and easy to use slider plugin that’s feature-rich and fun to use. Whether you’re a beginner starting out with creating sliders for the first time or a developer who has been using sliders for years, Smart Slider 3 offers features that appeal to a broad audience of users.

Here are just some of Smart Slider 3’s top features:

  • It’s easy to use. The Content and Canvas visual editing modes are unlike anything you’ll see in other slider plugins.
  • It’s packed with features. There are 5 layer types with the free version (21 when you upgrade to Pro), 100+ pre-designed slide, a huge template collection, dynamic generators, animations and effects, and much more.
  • It’s fast. You can optimize and preload images to improve your website’s loading speed. There’s also script optimization, which includes efficient code, asynchronous loading, and minification.
  • It’s SEO-friendly. You can add alt text to any image in your slides.
  • It’s developer-friendly. The expert mode unlocks a bunch of advanced options, giving you even more control over your sliders.
Smart Slider 3 Icon
Bring Your Ideas to Life
Powerful. Visual. Intuitive. Smart Slider 3 is the most advanced slider and block creation tool for WordPress and Joomla.

Why Use Smart Slider 3 Free?

The free version of Smart Slider 3 is one of the most feature-packed plugins I’ve ever come across in the WordPress repository. It’s amazing for the price you pay, which is absolutely nothing! It has exploded in popularity over the past year, with 20,000 new active installs in just the past month.

So what makes Smart Slider 3 so special? For one thing, it offers just the right number of features so you can create beautiful sliders with complex designs, all without feeling forced to upgrade for something as simple as layers (layers are included, unlike some other free slider plugins).

So let’s take a look at the features that come with the free version of Smart Slider 3.

Content and Canvas Editing Modes

There are two different visual editing modes in Smart Slider 3: content and canvas modes.

In content mode, the editor works much like a page builder. You can quickly build your slides using columns and rows for uniformity, and a clean design that’s fully responsive.

Canvas mode gives you the freedom to work with layers unobstructed, much like you would with popular image editing tools such as Photoshop. With Smart Slider 3, you can drag and drop your layers and position them anywhere on your slides, even on top of each other for dynamic effects.

Layers

Create unique designs with six different layers: image, heading, text, button, Vimeo, and YouTube. What’s great about Smart Slider 3 is that you can place your layers anywhere on your slides, so you can have text on top of images and position your layers how you like.

Image optimization

Smart Slider 3 free can optimize your images by resizing them to the size of the slider. This reduces your page loading time, so you can serve content to your visitors faster.

Slide Library

The Slide Library provides several pre-made slides in light and dark skins to help kickstart your work. You can import slides directly into the content/canvas editor and start customizing them with your own content.

Page Builder Support

Smart Slider 3 works flawlessly with Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, Page Builder by Site Origin, and WP Bakery Page Builder, and Gutenberg.

Responsive and Touch-Friendly

Ensuring that your site design is responsive is crucial now that Google has moved to mobile-first indexing. With Smart Slider 3, your sliders will automatically adjust for different devices.

This means your sliders can be enjoyed on any device, be it mobile, tablet, or desktop. You can choose to enable features like swipe, or simply turn off sliders for particular devices.

Dynamic Slides

You aren’t limited to adding just static images, video, and text to your slides. With Smart Slider 3, you can populate your slides with dynamic content, such as WordPress posts.

For example, you could pull in your latest blog posts and display them on your homepage to promote your recent article.

Customizable Controls

There’s a range of different navigational controls you can add to your sliders, including arrows, bullets, and thumbnails. You can also add text bars, shadows, and autoplay your sliders.

Slider controls

Slide Background Animations

Smart Slider 3 comes with nine super smooth background animations, which you can customize to change the duration and speed.

Why Use Smart Slider 3 Pro?

The free version of Smart Slider 3 is so popular and feature-rich that you might be wondering, “Should I buy the Pro version?”

While the free version lets you create beautiful sliders with ease, the Pro version offers a huge stack of additional features to help you build sliders with more complex designs, including more layers, more slider types, and more animations and effects.

Plus, with the Pro version, you get access to the latest updates and support. This means you’ll always have the most secure version of Smart Slider 3, and if you ever need any help, it’s just a ticket away. It’s worth pointing out that the free version of Smart Slider 3 has a 4.9 out of 5-star rating — and the Pro version has even faster access to support.

So let’s take a look at the additional features available in Smart Slider 3 Pro.

More Slides

The Slide Library comes with 100+ pre-designed sliders for everything from hero sliders and product carousels to magazine layouts, app showcases and testimonial sliders. No matter what kind of design your site has, there a slide you can import and customize to suit your needs.

More Layers

Enhance your sliders with the full collection of 21 layer types, which you can use to create. For instance, you can add MP4 videos to your slides instead of just Youtube or Vimeo. You can create animated or highlighted heading layers to deliver your message in the most effective way.

More Slider Types

There are three additional slider types: Carousel, Block and Showcase. You can also create Full Page sliders, which fill the browser viewport.

More Dynamic Generators

With the Pro version you can populate your slides with content from even more sources — 32 sources, in fact — including WordPress posts, WooCommerce products, Instagram, YouTube, Dribbble, Pinterest, and NextGEN Gallery.

You can even pull in events from popular plugins like All-in-One Event Calendar, Events Manager, and The Events Calendar.

More Background Animations

Whether you want to fade, zoom, rotate or explode your slides, with the Pro version you get access to the full collection of 70+ background animations. These animations let you control the transitions between each of your slides.

Layer Animation Builder

Smart Slider 3 Pro features a powerful layer animation system that enables you to create motion and transitions between your layers.

Live Timeline

Every layer animation appears on an interactive visual timeline, where the details can be changed easily.

timeline

Tons of Extra Expert Settings

When you upgrade to Pro, you unlock the full range of functionality available in the plugin, including:

  • Lazy loading – Improve your website’s loading speed by loading less images on page load.
  • Lightbox option – Enable images and videos to display in a lightbox for a better user experience, and save space on your webpage.
  • Layer animation – Introduce or hide your layers in an exciting way with a cool layer animation.
  • Actions and events –Trigger layer animations using custom events in response to actions like mouse clicks or mouse enter events.
  • SEO-friendly – The HTML structure ensures the best results for search engines.
  • Device Specific Options – Set custom slider size or slide background image to provide the best experience for all users.
  • New navigational controls – Tweak new arrows, bullets and thumbnails with new customization options.
  • Text animationText animation gives you the opportunity to animate the text itself by words or characters.

How Much is Smart Slider 3 Pro?

There are three different pro pricing options:

Single Domain Business Unlimited
💰 Price $35 $150 $250
🌐 Domain license 1 website 10 websites Unlimited websites

When you purchase a license, it’s a one-off payment and you get lifetime updates and support, as well as access to all Pro features.

Smart Slider 3 Pro also offers a handy 14-day money back guarantee if you decide it’s not for you and you want to return to using the free version.

Conclusion

So which version of Smart Slider 3 is the right one for you — Free or Pro?

If you want to create a simple image slideshow, a full width slider that features dynamically generated content from your blog posts, a video slider, or thumbnail slider, then Smart Slider 3 Free is the right option for you.

If you want to create sliders with more complex designs, including layer and background animations and effects, app showcases, fullpage blocks, or dynamically pull in video, social media, ecommerce products, and other content, then Smart Slider 3 Pro will best fit your needs.

If you have any questions about the free and Pro versions, let us know in the comments below!

Raelene Morey

About Author

Raelene Morey is the Chief Bird at Words By Birds , an agency that helps WordPress businesses make better content. Computer science grad turned newspaper journalist and ex-managing editor at WPMU DEV. Raelene has been developing WordPress sites for over 10 years.