Options for Creating Directory Sites with WordPress

We are currently working on a project that requires us to build a business directory in WordPress. There are many ways to build a directory in WordPress including custom development, existing free or paid plugins, and a ready-made directory theme.

We explored several options before finally deciding which one fit our project needs best. In this article you will learn what WordPress directory methods we looked at, and what we ultimately chose to be the solution.

How to Create a Directory with WordPress
A WordPress Directory Solution Comparison

WordPress Directory Plugin

The first plugin we tried was the WordPress Directory Plugin. This is a free plugin, which comes with access to support, but you must create a free account on WPMUDEV in order to download.

This directory plugin comes with its own template, and also allows for lots of customization.

What we liked about the WordPress Directory Plugin:

  • You can create custom categories, fields, and layouts, which make for a very attractive directory
  • You can advertise within the directory
  • You can place the auto generated taxonomy and custom field embed code in your WordPress loop to display in your theme
  • Users can submit reviews and ratings for each listing

Some things we didn’t like about the WordPress directory plugin:

  • Although this plugin allows the creation of custom fields, there is no way to display these newly created custom fields on a listings page automatically. You must edit the single.php template file located in the plugin directory.

Note: To avoid this, you could utilize the Views plugin for the WordPress Directory custom post types. This plugin allows you to create fully customized layouts based on custom post types and custom fields and taxonomies.

This is not for the faint of heart, and you would duplicate a lot of the work that the Directory plugin already does, but the sky is the limit in terms of custom layouts.

Business Directory Plugin

Next was the Business Directory Plugin. This WordPress directory plugin is free, although there are some paid modules available if you wish to upgrade.

What we liked about the Business Directory Plugin:

  • Offers a variety of fee structures based on how many pictures  one wants to include in their listing
  • Listings can be edited like any normal blog post, and without having to go to the WordPress dashboard

Some things that made us pass:

  • Reviews for this directory were mixed
  • High number of support requests from users
  • The styling was the least attractive of all the WordPress directory plugins we explored
  • Google checkout is the only payment option included in the free version

Link Directory Plugin

The Link Directory Plugin is a fairly new free plugin.  While it currently lacks some of the pizzazz that our winning directory method found below has, we think this one could have some potential.

What we liked about the Links Directory plugin:

  • Author is very responsive to user feedback, and so this directory plugin could incorporate some user suggestions in future releases
  • Author continues to add new features

While we like this one, its newness leaves it lacking in a few key areas:

  • Only one default design is currently available
  • More bugs reported than most of the other directory plugins
  • Not enough customization options available
  • No payment methods included

Open Links Directory

The Open Links Directory is another free plugin. This plugin’s description claims it will help you to start a profitable link directory similar to the DMOZ.org directory.

What we liked about the Open Links Directory plugin:

  • Great for backlinking
  • Decent styling customization options
  • Pulls thumbnails of submitted sites

Why we passed:

  • Support seems to have become intermittent for the last few months
  • Requires a website link, some directory submissions don’t have sites
  • Not a robust system for creating and editing additional directory categories and other details

Web 2.0 Directory Plugin

For us, the Web 2.0 Directory plugin was the winner by a longshot. It’s a Premium WordPress plugin that literally transforms your WordPress powered website into an eye-catching, user-friendly directory website.

It offers the most attractive templates of all the directory plugins and themes that we researched, and there are TONS of theme styles to choose from. Additionally, all of the added features that are included in the package make it well worth the price.

Some reasons we chose the Web 2.0 Directory Plugin over all the other available directory plugins and themes:

  • Endless customization options to personalize your WordPress directory
  • Built in tracking tools so you know who’s visiting your sites and how often
  • Very easy to use and manage through WordPress

To try out the free online demo, or to purchase it now for $34, click here.