A WordPress website can be molded to fit almost any business need. We’ve already seen how we can use it to create a social network with BuddyPress. In the same way, we can also put together a directory of business listings. Perhaps you want maintain a yellow pages like resource for your community or document all the vendors for a particular niche product or service. Either way, we have several plugins that allow you to create a directory listing site. Let’s look at one of them and see how easy it is.
Using the Business Directory Plugin
Out of the many directory add-ons, the “Business Directory Plugin” stands out for its easy of use and the way it can seamlessly handle options like “featured listings”. In the beginning while your site is still new, you might just want to fill up your database as soon as possible. But as it gains popularity you can start to monetize your site by allowing people to pay extra for “sticky” listings that remain at the top. The Business Directory Plugin has this feature inbuilt and allows you to change the status type on the fly.
It does this by using custom post types. Here’s how to go about creating a directory listing using it. After downloading and installing the plug in, you will be prompted to create the default business listing page that will serve as the starting point for the directory. It simply contains the “businessdirectory” shortcode. You can make it yourself, or have it done automatically for you as soon as you activate the plugin.
To start a new entry, select the “Add New Listing” menu item from the new “Directory” option that appears on the left hand side of the WordPress administration dashboard. I’m going to make an entry with “Test Listing” as the name. You can also write a business description.
As you scroll down, you will see a place to enter structured information about the business. The URL, phone number, fax, and email. This list can be customized using the “Manage Form Fields” menu item on the left. You can remove or add new fields as you please and make them optional or visible in the excerpt. There is also the ability to upload an image.
Save the post just like any other WordPress article and view the page. As you can see below, the details have been added in a “directory listing” format in an attractive and simple design.
Registration and Featured Listings
By default, users have to register on your site to be able to add new listings. When your directory is in the early stages, this might prove to be a hinderance. On the left hand side, there is yet another menu item called “Directory Admin”. Under this, click “Manage Options”. From here, you can control various aspects of your business listings workflow. The “Registration” tab for example gives you the power to allow users to submit new listings without signing up.
After a while, you can start introducing featured listings that stand out from the rest. This allows you to create additional value for certain businesses, much like they can improve their visibility in the yellow pages with better placement etc. Click the “Directory” menu item on the left hand side and you’ll see a list of all business listings so far. You can upgrade any of them to “Featured” status then and there by clicking the link as shown below.
Once done, you can see that it has a different visual status from the other posts.
The Business Directory Plugin has a bunch of other cool features such as allowing you to integrate payments with Paypal and Google Wallet. There are also a number of premium modules such as zip search, ratings, and maps that you can add once your site really starts to pick up traffic. But even without all those bells and whistles, this is a great plugin for quickly creating a great directory listing site on WordPress for free.