Have you ever wanted an easy and beautiful way to share a history of your work or events and conferences you’ve attended? Maybe you’ve done a creative work-around like making a photo and text timeline in Word and uploading that to your website as a photo. Yet, despite your creative solutions, the users are not able to click through the specific points and zoom in or expand to learn more.

Luckily, WordPress offers the option to share this information in an easy and useful format. The solution? WordPress timeline plugins! To make your life easier, the development team here at Georgetown’s CNDLS has done the testing for you. Here’s our findings:

Cool Timeline

Your first option is the classic style timeline that features some fun add-ins. This plugin gives you the power to align your information vertically or horizontally, add titles and descriptions, color code, and include imagery. Of importance, this plugin has both a free feature and paid (premium) feature set, both of which allow you to customize how you’d like.

While this is a cool way to showcase your information and history, this plugin may not be the best option for the linear aspect of the timeline lends itself to becoming a bit messy as it does not allow for multi-layering.

Knightlab js Timeline

This plugin allows you to easily craft an aesthetically pleasing and multilayered timeline. This application relies upon a Google spreadsheet for the information, so you’ll need access to Google Docs in order to begin. Uniquely, this plugin allows you to use a range of media, such as Wikipedia, Twitter, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Flickr, YouTube, Vine, Google Maps, SoundCloud, Document Cloud, and many others. Please note you will want to limit your timeline events to only 20 as to keep the overall story easy to follow.

In this example CNDLS developers created, you can see the interactivity of this timeline and how the format lends it self to complex and visual stories. In this video, the creators of the plugin explain some more of the unique aspects of this timeline.

 

Timeline and History Slider

This horizontal timeline is another visual timeline allowing you to use photos and captions as the main events on the slider. The information you add to each event then appears length-wise underneath the title of the event. This timeline is a good choice if you have a lot of text you want to add to each event. This plugin also allows for users to scroll through the events themselves using the button slider at the bottom of the timeline.

In the example photos below that the CNDLS developer created, you can see the variability that this plugin offers.


TM Timeline

This timeline’s strength is its simplicity: in one horizontal line, you an add your dates and titles that link to pages and posts on your site. This plugin would work well for a timeline with only a few events that have more detailed pages or event invites. In the photo below, you can see that the CNDLS developers created the timeline based upon the same dates as the cool timeline above, but the appearance is starkly different due to the horizontal and textual aspect of this plugin.


After installing, building, testing, and discussing the various timeline plugins, the development team at CNDLS has come up with the following insights:

  • The cool timeline is appealing for simpler-style stories as it lends itself well to linear events and offers the options to have associated photos and captions. This would work well for featuring previous and future work or social events.
  • The Knightlab js timeline is by far the coolest plugin for timelines, but as it requires a few steps to create (using the Google Doc) and is so heavily visual and interactive, this style of timeline plugin is best used for complex narrative timelines.
  • The timeline and history slider would be good for a timeline with no more than four events, but it can get a bit messy. The strength of this timeline is the ability to add a fair amount of text to each event as the information populates below the timeline.
  • The TM timeline is the simplest format you can chose, and its strength is that you can link directly to your site’s pages and posts. However, as this template is so simple, you may want to go with another plugin.