Hover effects are the visual changes that happen when you move your cursor over a web page element like a widget, popup, banner, or image. Or for example, when you hover over thumbnail images in a gallery, they can change from greyscale to color.

Hover effect changes from greyscale to color

While you can use custom CSS to add image hover effects to your web design, it’s much easier to install a suitable WordPress plugin. You will find various plugins to enable you to create hover effects in the WordPress directory – but there are considerations to keep in mind, such as how a plugin might affect your website, the application you intend for your hover effects, and whether it will be possible to achieve this with the plugin you choose. 

We’re going to zero in on the plugin FooGallery as the best WordPress plugin to choose and show you how to use it to set up awesome hover effects. 

Why Add Hover Effects to Your WordPress Website?

With hover effects, overuse can lead to a cluttered interface and confuse users. It’s also important to note that hover effects aren’t always useful for touchscreen devices, so alternative interaction feedback should be implemented for such devices. However, they do have specific benefits which we explore below:

1. User Experience

  • Interactivity: When visitors move their cursor around the page and elements transition (for example by changing color or animating) it adds a fun, interactive layer to the site that encourages greater engagement.
  • Guidance: Hover effects serve as a guide, showing visitors instantly where they can interact with the site. Most people understand that a hover effect is an indication that they can click on a page element to open it.
  • Presentation of information: Hover effects often provide useful tips or information (for example, product details), giving visitors more context before they open a page element.
    Here’s a look at how this might work:

2. The Strategic Use of Hover Effects can Influence User Actions and Potentially Increase Conversion Rates

Highlighting CTAs: When “call to action” buttons change on hover, they grab visitors’ attention and emphasize a desired action you’d like them to take. This makes it more likely for them to follow through, improving your site’s conversion rate.

Instilling confidence: Hover effects can provide feedback to visitors, affirming that they are interacting with the page as intended. This instills confidence in visitors about their interactions and decisions, making them more likely to complete a transaction or fill out a form.

More engagement time: Well-executed hover effects make a webpage more enjoyable and engaging, increasing visitors’ dwell time. This often contributes to a higher conversion rate, as it increases the chance of visitors performing desired actions on the page.

Providing product details: On ecommerce websites, hover effects are often used to provide information about a product on hover (like a product description, quick view, or zoom-in). This helps customers make faster purchase decisions, contributing to a higher conversion rate.

The Impact of Hover Effects on Site Performance

While it’s clear that improving a WordPress website’s aesthetics with hover effects has benefits, there is a potential for them to impact site speed and responsiveness, as any animations added to a site can cause it to slow down (You can measure your site’s current performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights).

As a WordPress user, there are ways you can minimize negative effects on performance:

  • Use a lightweight hover effects plugin:
    This will create minimal bloat. (This is one reason why FooGallery is the ideal choice of plugin, as we discuss later.)
  • Install caching and speed optimization plugins:
    Look into W3 Total Cache which improves site SEO, core web vitals and overall user experience, by increasing site performance and reducing load time. WP Fastest Cache is a fast WordPress cache plugin that will improve site speed.
    Check on your PageSpeed Insights score before and after installing either of these plugins!

Why is FooGallery an Ideal Plugin for Hover Effects?

FooGallery is a free gallery plugin for WordPress. It’s easy for beginners and lets you create eye-catching image galleries on your site from a range of templates, such as the popular masonry gallery (take a look at the thumbnail hover effects!)

FooGallery places a high emphasis on fast performance and SEO optimization. The plugin is fully responsive, ready for retina display, and employs lazy loading techniques to ensure that image galleries load at impressive speed.

While hover effects are available with FooGallery’s free plan, there are three PRO plans with affordable pricing, which give you more advanced hover effects. For ecommerce users, FooGallery PRO Commerce is a great option with its WooCommerce integration. 

Let’s compare what you can do with FooGallery free vs. PRO:

FooGallery (free):

  • Choose between a normal effect type or none.
  • Choose between a dark, light, or transparent theme.
  • Add a color effect to your hover.
  • Make thumbnails scale slightly on hover.
  • Choose whether you want captions to remain visible on hover.
  • Select a transition effect (e.g., fade).
  • Choose if you want to set an icon to show on hover, and choose from several icons.

FooGallery PRO:

To make hover effects even more engaging, the PRO plans give you the above customization options, as well as 11 attractive hover presets that automatically make dynamic changes to gallery thumbnails and include subtle animation effects. 

For example, Sadie animates the image title and description against a grayed background. Sarah nudges the image to the right and brings in an animated line element. Ming frames the title and description. Have fun interacting with the demos:

The FooGallery PRO plans give you a lot more than advanced hover effects though – you get a full suite of tools for creating stunning image galleries, which is ideal for any image-rich website. Here’s what some users have said about it.

“I absolutely loved how easy it is to make the gallery look different than every other gallery on every other site.”

John H.

Step-by-Step Guide: Adding Hover Effects with FooGallery

Step 1 – Get FooGallery

Step 2 – Add New Gallery

FooGallery makes it simple to set up a new gallery.

Add a new gallery with FooGallery

Simply choose a gallery layout, populate it with images, and customize the gallery settings. Most of the settings are self-explanatory and, once you publish your first gallery, you’ll be able to create further galleries in as little as a minute!

Step 3 – Apply a Normal Hover Effect

Click on Hover Effects in the Gallery settings to bring up the below pane, where you can apply and customize the hover effects for your gallery:

hover effects

To begin, set your hover effect to Normal. Then, here are a few ways you can customize the effects:

  • Select a Dark or Light overlay or choose Transparent for no overlay.
  • Add a Color Effect to your hover, giving you greyscale thumbs which become colorized on hover, or vice versa.
  • The Scaling Effect makes thumbs get slightly bigger on hover. Alternatively, you can select Zoomed, making the image inside the thumb get bigger while the thumb stays the same size.
  • For captions to be visible on hover, select On Hover under Caption Visibility.
  • The transition allows you to change how hover effects appear – you can make them fade in, slide in, appear instantly, and so on.
  • Lastly, you can select an icon you want to show on hover.

Step 4 – Apply Hover Presets

With the PRO plans, you unlock hover effect presets! This means you can choose from 11 engaging hover effect presets with no need to customize them. 

hover effect presets available in FooGallery PRO

Once you have created your gallery, publish it and use the gallery shortcode or FooGallery block in the Gutenberg editor to display the gallery on any page or post on your site.

“A wonderful fit for users who need a lightweight plugin that creates beautiful galleries, without the need for custom styling or coding.”

Rebecca G.

Best Practices and Tips for Effective Hover Effects

  • Understand your audience: Consider whether it’s important to provide image information on hover, or if you just need to add an aesthetic flourish to images.
  • Keep it consistent: Create a cohesive experience for visitors. If you have more than one gallery on your site, it’s best to apply the same hover effect to all of them.
  • Simplicity is key: Subtle hover effects are more effective than complicated ones – for example using text, animations, and icons together might be too much.
  • Test different options: Find out which hover effects perform better by performing A/B tests.
  • Ensure accessibility: Accessibility means making your website usable by as many people as possible. Hover effects can noticeably impact the accessibility of a website, if not implemented properly (but don’t worry, you’ll be fine with FooGallery).
  • Consider mobile users: Hover effects aren’t great for mobile devices, which have no cursor to “hover”. Make sure that important information in a hover effect isn’t only visible on hover.
  • Keyboard navigation: Users who navigate with their keyboard might not be able to access hover effects, so it’s important to ensure that all functionality available through hover is also accessible through keyboard navigation.
  • Avoid visibility issues: Hover effects that involve changes in color or contrast might be problematic for users with visual impairments. If the contrast is too low, some users might struggle to see text on hover.
  • Avoid cognitive overload: Complex or flashy hover effects can be distracting or disorienting for users with cognitive disabilities and in general, it’s best to keep hover effects simple.
  • Delay and Movement: Some users might move the mouse slowly or have tremors that cause the cursor to move over elements unintentionally. If hover effects are activated too quickly, or involve significant movement, this can lead to a confusing or frustrating experience for these users.

How to Customize Hover Effects to Match Your Website’s Aesthetics 

  • Opt for consistent color choices: It’s best to align the colors you use in hover effects with your site’s existing WordPress theme.
  • Fonts and typography: Try and create a similar consistency with text.
  • Visual elements: Avoid using hover animations or icons that clash with other visuals on your site.
  • Transparency and opacity: Aim for alignment with other site elements.

Mistakes to Avoid when Implementing Hover Effects

  • Overuse: Too many different hover effects can distract from the main content of your site.
  • Not testing on mobile devices: Browser compatibility is important.
  • Using non-intuitive effects: This may confuse rather than engage visitors.
  • Impacting legibility: Be practical when displaying text in hover effects.
  • No clear purpose: Every design element on your site, including hover effects, should serve a practical purpose.

Take Your WordPress Site to the Next Level with Hover Effects

Practically applied hover effects have clear benefits: increased engagement; more dwell time; highlighted CTAs; the ability to guide visitors with information – all factors that can help to increase your site’s conversion rate.

WordPress plugins are the easiest way to create hover effects, and FooGallery is the ideal image hover effect wordpress plugin to choose because it won’t slow your site down, prioritizes SEO, and comes with easy-to-implement hover effects – as well as all of the tools you need to create stylish image galleries.

Ready to have fun with FooGallery? Access 11 awesome presets with FooGallery PRO.