Here are some plugins that I have used successfully and highly recommend.
If this is the only plugin you ever purchase it will be well worth it. I have used Gravity Forms for complex forms, surveys, feeding data to third party systems, signing up to newsletters (with the MailChimp add-on). We bought the developer edition which allows you to download add-ons. We use MailChimp, Paypal and Poll creation add-ons.
The link below is an affiliate link so if you purchase I will get a referral fee. If you don’t want to go through this link then just search for it but GF is worth it!
Gravity Forms Custom Post Types
With this add-on to Gravity Forms you can create custom post types from data filled out on a form. This plugin, used in conjunction with GF and the following two plugins can let you make magic.
Custom Post Type UI
This was one of the first plugins that helped you create and manage custom post types; developed by the fine folks at WebDevStudios.com. There are several other very good plugins for managing CPTs but I have stuck with this one. Of course, you can also write the code to create your own and there are cases where it is better to do that, but to do something quickly the plugin will do the trick.
Advanced Custom Fields
When you create custom post types you often want to add new meta box fields on the edit pages in the admin. Again, you COULD do this by hand but this plugin has saved me hours by allowing me to create custom fields for my CPTs. I have especially found it useful to add relationships to other post types on the same site.
Pronamic Google Maps
So, lets say you create a custom post type of “Companies” and then you want to plot those companies on a map. This plugin uses a shortcode or template function to display a map of posts that you have geocoded. The plugin allows you to enter an address and it will plot it on a map or you can reverse geocode from map pointer. Cool stuff!
WordPress SEO and Google Analytics by Yoast
Joost de Valk (pronounced Yoast) knows his SEO, especially when it comes to WordPress. He has created these two plugins which I highly recommend to manage you search engine optimization tags and site maps and also the Google Analytics plugin to handle your analytics.
The Events Calendar by Modern Tribe
There are many events and calendar plugins out there but this one has recently become a favorite. Modern Tribe has a developers API to extend the plugin also. We also found it worth it to upgrade to the PRO version.
W3 Total Cache
This cache plugin does it all. Sometimes things can get tricky with the cache files that are used but it really helps with performance improvement in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, the most recent version has a lot of “nag” links asking to upgrade which can get annoying. I hope they get removed quickly!
Although I am not a big fan of sliders, I know they are in high demand. Meteor slides allows you to create different slideshows and then add them to pages or areas on your site using a shortcode or template function.