Despite originally being created as blogging software, WordPress’ popularity and strong community has helped grow it into a powerful Content Management System (CMS).

Third party plugins can allow you to create a sophisticated website and while I try to keep their use at a minimum there is a number of them that I can’t live without.

Here are my top five favourite WordPress plugins:

5. Gravity Forms

Creating forms can be one of the most frustrating tasks of web development, so anything that can make it easier is a blessing in disguise. Gravity Forms makes creating forms for all uses a breeze. From creating simple contact forms, to complex multi-page forms with conditional loading, Gravity Forms does it all. There is also a number of add-on plugins that allow you to pair this plugin with third-party applications including Paypal, MailChimp etc.

4. Post Types Order

Something that strangely has never been built into WordPress is a simple drag and drop re-order system for posts. This is where Post Types Order comes to the party, adding a simple page for each post type, listing all the posts. From here you can simply and easily drag and drop the posts to re-order them. Nothing amazing here, but super handy.

3. Admin Columns Pro

Usability and user experience (UX) is often overlooked when it comes to user the WordPress admin area, however anything that makes it easier for clients to use their website is definitely welcomed.

When using different post types, there is a high chance that there will be quite of lot of posts to sort through when managing a website, so being able to customise the columns for each post type list is quite important.

Admin Columns Pro lets you do exactly that, adding all different types of data into the table and allowing the user to sort and filter these how the wish.

2. Admin Menu Editor Pro

Another plugin that aids with user experience is Admin Menu Editor. This plugin allows you to fully customise the menu down the left hand side of the WordPress admin section. Not only can you re-order, rename and change the icon of each menu item, you can hide items or even add entirely new ones.

In the Pro version of the plugin, you can also do this on a ‘per role’ basis, allowing different menus for different users. This is great as you can allow administrators to see certain menus, while also simplifying the system for your clients.

1. Advanced Custom Fields

This is easily my favourite plugin and the one I rely on the most. Advanced Custom Fields is arguably the most powerful WordPress plugin around, allowing you to quickly create functionality from its large array of field types. This plugin opens up unlimited possibilities for WordPress and has played a big hand in turning the blogging software into a powerful CMS.

It also has great scalability, allowing for third-party field type created by the WordPress community.