How to Create a Business Directory Website with WordPress?
If you want to create a business directory website but not sure where to start, we can definitely recommend you to use WordPress. It is one of the most popular CMS on the Internet that works well for pretty much any type of website. All you need to do is look for the plugins that suit your website ideas. The abundance of highly popular plugins is what makes WordPress one of the most versatile platforms.
In this guide, we will show you how easy it is to create a business directory website. Since people often use web directories to generate revenue, it is also important to know how to add the functionalities that make your website profitable. Therefore, we are also going to show you how to add a payment option to your web directory, so that people can pay and submit their links.
Web Directories in a Nutshell
Web directories are made to make browsing easy for people. It allows you to collect and categorize tons of links, then present them as a catalog. A good business directory website helps people find great websites based on the topic they are interested in. You should check out the website called Starting Point, which will get you an idea how to structure a web directory simply and effectively.
Another good example is Family Friendly Sites, which has a more complex structure but it’s still a web directory website. As you might expect, WordPress has a wide range of plugins available in the web directory category. Most of them can help you create a fully functional WordPress web directory quickly and effectively.
Of course, there are plenty of WordPress themes available for the same purpose, but a theme is really not a flexible solution. After you install it, you can’t do anything outside the theme so it can easily become a limiting factor. A plugin on the other hand is just an extension that is easy to work with and multiple plugins can easily be added to your site.
A WordPress theme can also be good in some cases, but in this guide we are going to focus only on the plugins. Now let’s see how you can use the following plugins on any WordPress site.
1. Gravity Forms Directory WordPress Plugin
You can hardly find a form management plugin that is more beginner-friendly than Gravity Forms. This one is widely used for creating post submission forms and contact forms. However, if you want to use it for your new business directory website, you need to buy Gravity Forms from their website and install it.
Once the plugin is up and running on your WordPress, it only needs the extension called Gravity Forms Directory. This one is free and you can easily install and pair it with the main plugin. Now you have a full-featured tool for creating your web directory.
The Gravity Forms part of the plugin has been downloaded by more than 5,000 users so far and the reviews are quite positive. It is open-source software with tons of updates and fixes so far.
Creating a Form
Users need to submit their links somewhere, that’s why you need to create a form where they can add their entries. As the form collects entries, you can add them to your business directory page. But you are going to learn more about that part later. First off, create a new form by clicking Forms > Add New. You can find this option in the WordPress dashboard.
Now go to Gravity Forms fields to start adding the necessary fields to your form. There you can specify all the information you need from the users for submitting their links. The process is simple, you just click on the field you want and it appears on the form canvas. You can try it by putting together a form with Standard Fields.
Add Site Title, Site URL and Description so that you can get some basic info about the entries. This can be done in a couple of minutes and then you can save your form by clicking Update Form.
Insert Form as Submit Listing Page
Users can only add their links if you put the previously made form on your page. Once it’s live, they can fill it out and your website can finally generate links. It’s simple; you just go to New Page in the backend and then click Add Form on the top. Click on the form that you want to use as a live directory form and then hit Insert Form.
The whole Gravity Forms Directory works with shortcodes, so the Insert Form will put a shortcode into the editor. Check out how the form looks like in the Preview and if you like it, save the page.
Make Your Web Directory Live on a WordPress Page
To make your web directory live on a WordPress Page, go to New Page. In the Editor, find the Add Directory option on the top of the screen and click it. This is where you need to select a form that generates entries for the listing. If 20 people submitted their websites so far, then those 20 links will appear in your live directory.
Select the form you created earlier from the list of forms in the drop down menu, and then proceed to Insert Directory below. It will add the directory shortcode in the text editor and you can check it out in Preview. That’s all, now you have a business web directory in WordPress.
Managing Entries in Your Web Directory
As a default, all the entries submitted by the users will appear in your web directory. However, you have the option to disable it. Gravity Forms Directory allows you to create a web directory that only shows links that are previously approved by the website admin. This option comes in handy whenever you want to regulate spam entries or if you want users to pay before their entries go live.
This makes it much easier to run a paid listings website. Go to the Form Editor, where you will see the Approved button below the Directory Fields, then update your form. As a result, the forms you didn’t approve yet simply won’t appear on your web directory.
Let’s say you have 5 users that submitted their entries and also paid for them to appear. You need to go to the Form Editor and click Entries. There you will see all the entries listed. All the entries that are not yet approved are marked with a red dot. Find the 5 clients that paid for the entry and click the red dot to approve. Now refresh your web directory and you can see that those 5 approved entries show up on the page.
If you want to run a paid listings web directory, you need to download a payment add-on for Gravity Forms first. This way, you can set a fee for the entries.
2. Business Directory WordPress Plugin
As a second solution, here is the Business Directory plugin which is created exactly for the purpose. Although the starter pack is free, you will need to buy the Pro version if you want some advanced features. It is very easy to install the plugin and activate it on your WordPress account. You even have the instructions for it on the buy page.
The plugin has been downloaded by more than 20,000 users so far. It received overwhelmingly positive reviews and has an extensive documentation and Quick Start guide available that explains everything about the plugin.
Business Directory creates your web directory right when you start to use it. The plugin will ask whether you want it to create a new page on your site and copy the shortcode into it. If you agree, just hit ‘Create required pages for me’ and the page for your directory will be ready. It has plenty of options; the plugin will even notify you that the featured listing options feature is turned on as a default.
Go to the options menu and turn it off, you are not going to need it for our example. In the options, you can see that payment settings are also included in Business Directory. Just go to Directory Admin > Manage Options whenever you need the options menu. To turn off featured listings, go to ‘Listing’, find ‘Offer sticky listings’ and set it to off.
This is How You Add Categories and Entries
With Business Directory, you can categorize the entries of your web directory. First, click on Directory, then go to Directory Categories and create a category. If you have no categories at all, you won’t be able to create your directory. The plugin requires the users to pick a category before they submit their link.
When you are finished with the categories, visit your automatically created web directory page. You will see the Submit a Listing, View Listings, Directory and Search Listings buttons. Submit a Listing is a button where your users can create their own listings. You, as an administrator need to click Directory > Add New Listing in the WordPress dashboard to add entries manually.
Accept Payments for Your Listings
As we previously mentioned, you can also accept payments with Business Directory. You can set a specific price for each entry and then use Google Wallet for processing the payment. The Google Wallet integration comes with the plugin. If you would rather use Stripe or PayPal for the payments, then you can add these as extensions by buying them on the Business Directory website.
These extensions can be installed easily. Once you activated them, click Directory Admin > Manage Options, then pick ‘Payments’ in the menu. The most important option is where you can enable or disable payments. However, your site might not be ready for payments yet. In that case, you can always check the ‘Put payment gateways in test mode?’ part.
Next up, choose the currency your users are going to pay with. Business Directory also allows you to include a thanks message that appears once people finish the payment. If you are done, go ahead and start to set up the payment gateway. If you successfully activated all the payment gateway extensions on the plugin, you will see PayPal, Stripe and Google Wallet as well as available options.
When you made sure that the payment settings are properly set, make sure to save the changes. When you want to sell something, you need to set some definite fees. When you are ready to set the fees, click Directory Admin and go to Manage Fees. There you have everything you need. You can create your listing plans and set up the duration and listing fee for each of them.
Finally, save the changes you made in the Manage Fees section. If you go through all these steps successfully, the end result will be a web directory with paid listings.
3. WilCity Listing & Directory WordPress Theme
WilCity is a highly customizable WordPress theme, which helps you to create a listing or a directory website of any type. While the above mentioned two methods require choosing a template separately, WilCity has everything in-built: design, features, filed builder, directory, and lot more.
With this theme, you can create basically any type of website, including business directory. The process of setting up your business directory website is quick and easy.
Just purchase the WilCity theme from ThemeForest and install it to your WordPress website.
Go to WilCity admin panel, click on the Add Directory Type, fill in the directory details: slug, name, color and choose icon, and publish the directory.
After that, go to Directory Settings and add listing fields for each directory type. Adding fields is simple with the in-built drag and drop builder.
You can add multiple rating categories and you can turn on and off ratings and reviews on different categories or certain listings.
As admin, you can customize the design of each section and each listing’s content apart. You can also enable the option for the listing owner to modify their listing’s design.
Google Map Module
You can enable the Google Map Module on the directory if you want to show the exact location of the listed businesses on map. This is a very hand option, while you will allow your users to find businesses near them.
WilCity is compatible with King Composer, Elementor Page Builder and they work on making it compatible with WPBakery (former Visual Composer) too.
Earning Money with WilCity
The final goal for building a business directory is to earn some money with it. With WilCity theme you can easily turn your website into a passive money earning machine.
If you have a popular website, most listing owners will happily pay to get listed on your directory. With this theme you can create multiple pricing plans with different features. Users can select the plan that is suitable for their needs and budget.
You can also make money with promoted listings. Listing owners would love to get their places promoted on special spots on your website or on search results. This is a great opportunity for you to earn money.
The paid claim listing is another revenue model to monetize your directory. You create the listing on your directory and allow the business owner to claim it later. Adding businesses to your directory can speed up significantly the evolution of your website and earn money later, when it is established.
As default PayPal, Stripe and Direct Transfer are the gateways you can choose from. However WooCommerce can also be integrated with WilCity.
The theme comes with one-click demo installation, making it super easy to set up everything in just few minutes.
It has the option to migrate from other directory themes or plugins.
Testimonial Module is also included with the theme as well featured listings module on search results.
On top of above mentioned features, the theme comes with iOS and Android app, making easy for you to build and manage your website from your smartphone or tablet.
This theme is very well documented, so you can find help quickly if you are stuck.
All in all, pretty much anyone can create a business directory website and even build up a decent income. Create your own directory now with WordPress, the most versatile platform on the Internet in a beginner-friendly way. It requires no experience in coding or web design or anything like that.
These two are the most effective plugins for web directories right now. With Business Directory and Gravity Forms, it is easier than ever to create web directories. Make sure to experiment with the plugin options, especially with the Business Directory plugin which can be optimized even more.