I’m asked a lot about the simplest way to create a directory listings database to add content and functionality to websites. There are lots of different options available of course, including the development of bespoke database software with tailored interfaces that are suited exactly to your audience. However a solution like this is not always needed and can often be simpler and easier than you think to implement using your favourite CMS.
In this blog post I am reviewing a selection of plugins that can be used on a Wordpress site to create a Business Directory Listings database. The plugins I’ve looked at can be built into an already functioning website, or incorporated into the design of a new site, however I’ve focused this time on easy integration into an already existing website.
From previous experience of looking for similar software solutions for customers, I set out a few other key criteria I’d like to see in the business directory plugin to focus the search. Hopefully these will be useful in helping you to think about your own criteria for your plugin too.
There are four main characteristics that I need the plugin to provide:
- Display detailed information about each listing in the database, and the ability to decide how much information is displayed.
- Listings should be easily update-able by the site admin or maintainer of the business directory.
- Search capability, including by categories for the listings, to improve usability.
- Payment processing via the website. PayPal being one of the key options.
There is a vast array of options when it comes to choosing a Wordpress plugin for creating a business style directory. That’s one of the main reasons for setting out a list of what’s important first can really help narrow the search.
Using the four key characteristics, I have picked out four plugins to review. Each of them are highly rated by users and all have been updated recently, something which is important when considering any plugin – you don't want to find there is no support or planned upgrades if you experience any problems.
The Business Directory Plugin appears to be one of the most popular plugins for creating a business style directory listing. It has some great features and functionality. One of the things I like about this plugin is the fact that it allows you to create subscription levels. This is highly useful for differentiating your listings and for providing a subscription based service.
Another great feature I like about the Business Directory plugin is the built in spam control feature, provided by integrating a CAPTCHA. This helps prevent automated bots from spamming the site or service.
The plugin effectively supports the idea of categories and a range of different ways of displaying the listing information, including images, and the ability to add documents. This plugin also provides a number of premium add-ons for further integration and support – as with most premium style add-ons these need to be investigated fully to see if they add any value to your site.
The Directory & Classifieds plugin is another popular plugin and worth looking at, although this does seem more geared more to those looking to build a complete listing or classifieds style website than as a plugin for integrating with an existing site.
The Directory & Classifieds plugin has some nice features including, category support, subscription levels and maps integration. It also provides an easy to use search method for searching with different values and complete customisation of fields, as well as protection against spam.
Another very popular plugin providing some very nice features for building a community or list of Businesses.
The Connections Business Directory appears from my review to be very easy-to-use and simple to set-up to achieve the end result you are looking for. The plugin provides its own dashboard and also integrates with the Wordpress admin area, allowing for easy and quick configuration. There is also a nice addition of being able to control which entries/listings are viewable to the public. They have a wide range of fields and support for information, and an accessible means of customising these.
In general this seems to be a very good overall directory listings Wordpress plugin to use. It has all features you would expect including categories and a nice listing method. The Connections Business Directory plugin also provides various premium add-ons at what appears to be a pretty reasonable price, they are designed for specific needs.
The Wordpress Directory Plugin is a paid for plugin provided by wpmudev. The plugin appears to be a very good and full featured Business Directory component for either building a complete website or adding to an existing website.
The Wordpress Directory Plugin has some nice features including, payments processing, custom categories and tags, the ability to add reviews and ratings for listings. These are just some of the features the Wordpress Directory Plugin provides.
I particularity like the idea of being able to integrate into the Wordpress theme you are using and being able to style the the directory listing service.
Being able to add and create custom categories and tags is great as Businesses often fall into more than one category and sometimes niche Business areas which are not specified.
Which one would I use?
This is probably a good time to reiterate that these are my personal views and opinions! After reviewing the above plugins, I would look at using either 'Connections Business Directory' or 'Business Directory' as both have a large range of features and ability to provide a customised listing style. Both have a large number of downloads and user base, which offers perspective user some confidence and have recently been updated. Importantly too, they are geared to adding functionality to a site rather than creating a Business Directory site or Classifieds.