Comparing Premium Sliders for WordPress by Performance

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Want a Premium Slider?

Let's say you were in the market for a brand new premium slider plugin for your new WordPress site. Which would you choose? Would you pick the one that was the easiest to use? Or would you pick the one with the most features? For the longest time I went the feature route. But for the last year, I've stayed away from sliders. They've just felt distracting when I reach a site. Maybe it's the speed at which they're configured. I don't know.

But recently I started looking at them again. And this time my criteria had changed. I didn't want the slider that was the most feature rich. I didn't want the slider that had the most integrations with content sources. And given my experience, I didn't need it to be the absolute easiest to use (though no one wants to use a crappy product). No, this time I had a different desire.

I wanted the highest performing slider.

Not shocking since I love most high performance things. But I wanted to know which slider was the “lightest”- the one that would be fastest to load up on my site. After all, if it takes too long to load, especially if it's on my home page, people will just move on.

The Candidates

I decided to test 6 premium sliders. Actually I had wanted to test one more but I couldn't get it to work, so I settled for six.

How did I select them? It was easier than I thought it might be – I headed over to CodeCanyon.net and searched for sliders, since I knew every slider they showed me would be a premium product. And for the uninitiated, premium is code for “you have to pay to use this plugin.” You can see the search I did right here. I picked four from the list (sorted by sales) and then added two more because I already owned licenses for them (Soliloquy and Slide Deck 2). So here they are:

  1. Soliloquy
  2. Royal Slider
  3. LayerSlider
  4. Slider PRO
  5. Slider Revolution
  6. Slide Deck 2

All Sliders are not Equal

I do want to highlight that from a usability perspective, not all these plugins were the same.

When I do comparisons like this one, I use my WordPress Playground. It's where I configure pages and plugins and run all sorts of tests. So while the point of this comparison was performance, I want to note that some of these really took much longer than others to configure. But to tell you how they performed, even in configuration, I first need to explain my configuration.

Setting up the Test

I first collected a set of images. (These were, on average, 1000 pixels wide and 670 pixels tall. My goal was to create a slider that would be 800×400. I did this because I wanted to know the kinds of options they'd give me, from scaling to cropping.)

After getting the images, I uploaded them all at once via the media library, so I could use them with the sliders.

From there I uploaded all the plugins, but didn't activate them.

For the test, since this was performance-based, I used the same theme, one plugin (Akismet), and the slider plugin. Everything else was turned off. (The theme, for those who are curious was Genesis 1.9 with Dynamik's Builder – the child theme from the makers of Catalyst.)

Lastly, I created a page for each plugin, and on it, when only that plugin was active, I created a slider using 5 images and placed it on that page. Then I would test with Pingdom's tools.

So when I say that some of these plugins were easier and faster to configure than others, I mean some of the others just took a lot more time than I cared for, when it came to creating a simple 5 image slider.

Ranking Usability

Since I'm going on about how fast or slow each of these was to work with, here's my personal opinion on their ease of use ranking. There were two that were really easy to use.

1. SliderPro
2. Soliloquy

Then, there was a three way tie of plugins that were easy but not super fast:

3. Royal Slider
3. Revolution Slider
3. LayerSlider

Then, in last place, was the most feature-rich of them all:

6. SlideDeck 2

Even though it has tons of features, the changes I made wouldn't stick. I kept having them do it over and over. Eventually I got it to work, but it took a long time and I still didn't get exactly what I wanted.

Ranking them by Performance

So this is the whole reason I did what I did. But before I tell you the performance numbers, let me say this (because of the last time I did a performance comparison).

  • All of these plugins were tested on the same server.
  • All the images were the same size and were uploaded to the site.
  • All of the pages were hit several times before grabbing data.
  • This time I left all the tests on Pingdom and all the pages on WP Advisor.

Slider Request Counts

So with that all said, let's start with requests. Soliloquy wins.

[table id=9]
Slider,Requests
Soliloquy,31
LayerSlider,33
Royal Slider,35
Revolution Slider,35
Slider Pro,44
SlideDeck 2,44
[/table]

Slider Load Times

The only thing other than request counts that I would want to know was overall load time. Soliloquy wins again.

[table id=10]
Slider,Load Time
“Soliloquy (See Details)”,436 ms
“SliderPro (See Details)”,534 ms
“Layer Slider (See Details)”,1.12 s
“Royal Slider (See Details)”,2.4 s
“SliderDeck 2 (See Details)”,4.14 s
“Revolution Slider (See Details)”,4.95 s
[/table]

The Winners

Soliloquy wins! But don't forget SliderPRO. The speed differences between these top two are virtually undetectable. Additionally, when it came to adding multiple images to multiple slides, SliderPro is crazy fast. That said, Soliloquy has been adding some deeper integrations to the new media upload screens. They're looking to stay on top, regardless of what SliderPRO does. So I expect we'll see great things from both these camps:

  1. Soliloquy
  2. SliderPRO

What's your take? Have you seen a slider I missed that was even faster?

UPDATE/NOTE: Later this week I'll do a comparison of Soliloquy against the default slider for Genesis as well as the WooSlider by WooThemes.

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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