Maybe you’ve heard of these WordPress competitors.
I’ll be honest, they look nice! And they’ll work great if you want to make a blog or small eCommerce store.
But that’s it.
If you want to make something more complex, there’s no way around it – WordPress is the best solution.
In fact, unless you want to hire a team of developers, WordPress is usually the only solution to make a complex site like a directory.
It can’t be that hard… right?
It may be not seem like much at first glance, but there’s a huge amount of flexibility required to make an online directory.
You need a way for visitors to register and add listings. You need payment processing, memberships, listing management, transactional texts and emails, layout customization – there are so many requirements!
It seems impossible that one product would actually include all of this, but the Directory theme does just that.
As a mature product, the Directory theme by PremiumPress was one of the first WordPress themes to tackle this issue, and now it has an incredible number of refined features.
If you’re interested in building a directory website with WordPress, you need see what Directory can do.
Here’s what it can do
Before I move on, you should know that this is a sponsored review. I received payment and a copy of Directory from PremiumPress in exchange for publishing an honest review of their product.
That said, I’m not pulling any punches. Here’s my honest assessment of their product.
Directory isn’t just designed to make a standard directory website. It can be used for any kind of directory site you can imagine.
You can choose a specific niche like gyms or dentists offices, or include all small businesses like Yelp.
It can hard to wrap your head around all of this functionality without any examples. Here’s a look at what a complete listing page looks like:
As you can imagine, the tools required to create this variety of websites are fairly complex.
That said, you don’t need to write any code or complete any overly technical steps. The PremiumPress developers have done a great job of providing you with all the various settings you’ll need.
How it works
Once you install and activate the Directory theme, you’ll see a few new menus added to your site.
First up is the main PremiumPress menu which includes a variety of submenus under it:
The main admin area simply provides some useful stats about your site and links to regularly-used menus.
In my opinion, the best place to start is the Submission Setup menu.
Customize listing prices
This is a great place to start because it’s central to your business model.
The listing setup is where you can choose whether visitors need to be members to submit listings and how much listings will cost (and how long they will run). This includes default listings, featured listings, and the price for additional categories.
Charging for listings is the most common way to monetize a directory and setting your pricing is a good first step.
Add membership levels
The memberships functionality lets you create an extremely flexible revenue model.
You can add as many membership tiers as you’d like and customize the price and duration of each one. Memberships can recur automatically or end after a period of time. Furthermore, you can make them last forever. This is a cool option if you want to have a one-time fee for signing up and then charge per listing.
As you can see from the interface above, adding and removing membership tiers is pretty simple.
Memberships fees and paid listings are great ways to make money with your website, but Directory has some more options too!
You can include advertising in the header, footer, and blog sidebar of your site. This is a great way to build your “revenue stack” and earn more from your site.
And there are even two ways to charge! You can either integrate with an ad platform like Google AdSense, or sell space for fixed prices and durations to interested vendors.
Integrating ads with WordPress can be a huge pain even with plugins. Having these options built into the theme makes it much easier.
I’m going more or less skip over the remaining sections in the admin menu because I don’t think they’ll help you visualize how you could use this theme.
The rest of the menus will help you to configure your site. You can send email newsletters, manage the emails and SMS messages that get sent out automatically after visitors complete different actions on the site, and more.
If you want to read more about these features, you can visit their site now.
Knowing exactly how you’ll monetize your directory is the most important aspect in my opinion. But almost as important are the tools for managing the listings members submit
Listings are the lifeblood of a directory.
If you’re not already familiar with custom post types in WordPress, I think you’ll really enjoy this next part.
You know how you can manage and publish posts with WordPress? The Directory theme adds a whole new post type called “Listings” that allow you to publish and manage company listings.
You can add, edit, and remove listings just like posts.
The actual view of a listing is quite similar to posts too! There’s a description, listing details, and a section for adding images.
While your view of the listings as the site owner is important, let’s take a look at how it works for members.
When you install Directory, it automatically creates a number of pages for you in the Pages menu. The most important page is the “My Account” page.
Business owners who register on your site get access to this awesome account dashboard:
They can manage their messages, membership, listings, and their profile. You’ll also notice also a few links prompting them to add a new listing.
When a member arrives at the new listing page, they’ll see this optimized funnel page:
You want as many members to submit listings as possible, and the simple workflow that Directory has created will help a lot to increase your sales.
Now that you’ve seen the most crucial aspects of creating a directory website, let’s take a look at some of the customization options.
Customize the design
At this point, you’re probably wondering how Directory can be adapted to so many different niches.
This is where the child themes come in.
You see, the functionality of Directory stays the same for every niche, it’s just the design of the site that changes and a child theme can completely change the design.
Since child themes can have such a dramatic affect on the site’s style, they’re the best place to begin your customizations.
Add a child theme
With Directory activated on your site, you’ll find a new Child Themes menu item added under the standard Appearance menu.
There are thirteen child themes in total. While some of them are quite similar, there’s a nice variety and you can switch instantly from one to another.
Once you’ve selected a child theme, you can fine-tune the styles from the Customizer.
Use the Customizer
You’re probably familiar with the Live Customizer already. Every theme uses it to supply design options.
While the settings added by Directory aren’t that robust, you’ll find simple ways to change your site’s logo, font, and colors.
These tools can help you match your site to your brand and update the aesthetic.
That said, it won’t look dramatically different. To really get into the customization process, we’ll turn to a page builder.
Customize layouts with Elementor
The Directory theme doesn’t include it’s own page builder. To be completely honest, I think this is a good choice. We don’t need any more page builders!
Instead, they’ve opted to integrate with Elementor, which is the most popular and well-designed drag-and-drop page builder on the market.
Directory has been specially integrated with this drag-and-drop page builder to make layout customizations simple. Here’s how it works.
Elementor uses a template system. You can create and save templates which then become reusable. Normally, you would reuse a template for regular pages on your site, but Directory allows you to use Elementor for your homepage, listing pages, and search results page.
In the Design Setup menu, you can open the Page Builder tab and then install the pre-made Elementor templates.
After importing the templates, you can edit them with Elementor.
Edit the templates
Let’s say you want to edit the listing page layout. You can customize the template once and the changes will go live across every listing on your site.
The Elementor interface is similar to the Live Customizer and allows you to edit every element on the page. Each element is considered a “widget” and Elementor is compatible with all of WordPress’ default widgets plus dozens of its own.
The Directory theme adds 30+ of its own widgets. You can see the widgets made especially for customizing listing pages in the screenshot above.
You can select any element on the page and customize it’s spacing, borders, background, and add even animations.
Rather than go into deep detail about it here, you can refer to this guide about how to use Elementor to get a closer look at the page builder plugin.
I hope this review has given you a good overview of how you can use Directory on your own website.
There was so much to cover in this theme and that brings me to my first takeaway.
Takeaway #1 – Incredibly feature-rich
The Directory theme by PremiumPress is incredibly feature-rich and customizable.
Most important are the monetization methods which are flexible and diverse. The member dashboards are also robust, and adding new listings will be painless for your customers. The listings are easy to manage thanks to the use of a new custom post type.
Takeaway #2 – Very customizable
When it comes to customization, you won’t find Directory lacking. Between child themes, the Customizer settings, and a rich integration with the Elementor page builder plugin, you can create pretty much any design you can imagine.
Takeway #3 – Complex
If there’s one complaint I have about this theme, it’s that it’s very complex. You won’t be setting up your website in an afternoon with this theme. That said, this basically comes with the territory. Directory websites are complex, so you’ll just have to take the time to build your site the right way.
If you are serious about creating a directory website, the Directory theme by PremiumPress can give you a great design and every tool you need.
Have some questions about this directory theme? Post in the comments below!