Finding WordPress plugins is easy. Finding great plugins is not. The following list is my recommendation of plugins based on years of working in the WordPress community building sites for clients and themes for customers at UpThemes.
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links which means I’m paid a commission on sales generated through my link.
Best Page Builder: Beaver Builder
One of the best plugins I’ve come across in recent memory, Beaver Builder makes it extremely easy to turn WordPress into a full-blown CMS. We’ve integrated Beaver Builder into a number of themes at UpThemes and have future plans to use it in a hosted website platform as well.
Best Form Plugin: Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms is one of the first user-friendly form builder plugins for WordPress. The only competition it had at first was the free Contact Form 7 and a slew of iframe drop-ins from hosted products. Now, even with competition from Ninja Forms and other good-looking free options, you won’t find a form plugin more synonymous with “WordPress” than Gravity Forms. Not to mention Carl, a founder at Rocketgenius (the company behind Gravity Forms) is a huge Cardinals fan, and that’s a good enough reason for me to help support ’em.
Best Lead Generation Plugin: OptinMonster
If you’re looking for plugins built by WordPress heavy hitters, look no further than OptinMonster by Syed Balkhi and Thomas Griffin, two of the smartest minds in the WordPress community today. They joined forces to build OptinMonster, an easy-to-use, useful plugin that helps grow subscriber lists by leaps and bounds. While marketing is never easy, this plugin makes it about as easy as it can be to grow an audience.
Best Caching Plugin: WP Rocket
If you’ve never heard of WP Rocket, it is one of the fastest rising stars in a small subset of WordPress caching solutions. With bulkier, more configuration-sensitive plugins on the market, WP Rocket is a breath of fresh air, making it easy for even the least technical users to get set up with an advanced cache management system for WordPress. For advanced users, it offers just the features you’d likely need without any bloat, making configuration easier than any of the other solutions I’ve tried.
Best Custom Field Plugin: Advanced Custom Fields 5
OK, so some folks are going to rake me over the coals on this one, but hear me out. As a new user of ACF, my team has used it to build a custom project management system for Frito-Lay and a large multisite network for a health supplement company with 300 clinic subsites so I’ve put it through the wringer.
A lot of folks got burned when ACF 5 came out and there was a shift in business model, so I understand there may be some sour grapes within the userbase, but I came in on the tail end of ACF 4 and used ACF 5 (Pro) most recently. I have been extremely impressed with both the simplicity and flexibility of the plugin, as well as the recent addition of the code export, allowing developers to take the configuration out of the database and instead place it within their code, reducing the possibility of users breaking things and also making WordPress faster by not needing to retrieve config values from the database.
Some developers have started using Custom Field Suite, which was a fork of ACF 4, but I found it to be less robust and much fewer resources on the web, which ultimately led me to explore ACF 5 a bit more heavily.