The box that lights up your photos

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Sometimes, what was once considered innovative becomes mainstream as time wears on. Innovation, when adopted by a great number of people, raises the bar, and soon becomes part of the ordinary way of life. In technology we see this happening quite often.

It is said that early in 2006, Lokesh Dhakar created a javascript that made viewing pictures and other media, painless. He named it ‘lightbox’, after the light box that artists and photographers use in their regular day-to-day work when working with photographic negatives or when tracing. This light box was designed with backlighting so as to illuminate everything that needed illumination and creating a clean, clear space in which to work.

What is Lightbox?

Wikipedia describes ‘Lightbox’ in this manner “Lightbox permits users to view larger versions of images without having to leave the current page, and is also able to display simple slideshows. The use of the dark background, which dims the page over which the image has been overlaid, also serves to disable the remainder of the interface.”

Lightbox is now the most accepted and expected way to showoff your pictures and videos from your latest trip, or that one-of-a-kind conference that you went to recently, or any media from your blog. Typically on your WordPress site, if a visitor clicks on a picture that you have inserted into your blog post, it will load a new page with just the image visible on it. In order to return to the page that originally displayed the picture, the visitor would have to hit the browser back button. This is hardly ideal. But with the lightbox plugin, your visitors will be able to click on the image and see it in a size that you specify, even full size, while still staying on the same page. They will be able to browse all pictures in the post or in your gallery. Add to that, some fluid animations and effects that make your pictures look as professional as can be. That’s the power of lightbox added to your blog or site.

How can you add Lightbox to your WordPress site?

Now, there are a number of lightbox plugins available out there, including lightbox 2, from the original creator. But there are two that we’d like to talk about in this blog post.

Simple Lightbox

There ain’t nothing simple about this plugin. If customization is what you are after, look no further. This nifty plugin gives you the ability to customize almost everything, including using your own css or skins. If you turn on the slideshow feature, your visitors can view all your pictures easily. This plugin also works remarkably well even with small pictures.

WP JQuery Lightbox

This is a personal favorite. Lighter, cleaner and glitzier, this plugin gives you more functionality than any other that we have seen. By using JQuery, the author has made this plugin much lighter from a coding perspective. That means your pages load faster. It even works on mobile devices, which is an added advantage. You can also enable the ‘download’ option so that your visitors will be able to download the image that they like, as well as, view its attributes. Customizing this plugin isn’t rocket science, it is as easy as checking a few check boxes. At first glance, it is not possible to customize the wrapper and add your own skin, but you may not want to, because this plugin does a great job of showcasing each picture beautifully. The plugin works well even when you have images of different sizes.

We can go on and on! There are quite a few plugins out there, including those that will showcase pictures from Picasa or Flickr. Do you have a favorite? Why don’t you leave a comment telling us which lightbox plugin you like the most and your experience with it. We’d love to hear from you!

Author Bio

Susan is with blogVault, the Premium WordPress Backup Service.

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