Wondering how to create a business directory in WordPress? We'll show you how in this step by step tutorial. With the right tools, it's not as hard as you think!
Approximate read-time: 7 mins
Looking to create a business directory using WordPress? Business directories are a type of site that allows users to search for businesses. These could be local businesses or country-wide.
With a business directory, there are usually two audiences you need to consider. First, the people using the directory to find businesses. And second, the people who wish to list their business in your directory.
The job of attracting both types of people to your site will be difficult. That's why we are going to show you how to create your business directory the easy way: using a fantastic WordPress plugin!
The best part about this business directory builder is that the entire set up process is easy. Just follow the quick-start wizard and you're done! Creating a directory website can be really fast with the right tools.
With Formidable, you'll be able to create local directories with Google maps generated automatically with each submitted listing. Keep reading to find out what else is included!
Formidable Forms WordPress directory plugin
The directory solution we are going to use in today's tutorial is called Formidable Forms. It's a WordPress form builder with a 10+ year history! Formidable powers over 300,000 WordPress websites with its drag and drop form builder.
For years, many users have built directory sites using Formidable. The unique Views feature has made this possible. Views allow form data can be used to build websites automatically. So when a business owner fills out their directory submission form, Formidable Views allow their listing page & profile page to generate automatically.
Views are a powerful tool for website creation, but there is some set-up required. In the past, a Formidable directory site did require a bit of customization.
But after seeing so many successful directories built with Formidable, the new business directory plugin by Formidable has made building directory websites easy. Now you can use Formidable to build directories automatically!
What's included with the Formidable directory plugin?
With the Formidable directory plugin, you'll get everything included with Formidable Forms, plus the directory builder add-on. Swing by the directory pricing page and you'll see you can choose from two plans: Business or Elite.
Formidable Forms by itself includes a lot: every form building feature you could ask for plus all the integrations you need to build your directory site. The directory builder add-on makes building directory listings sites a simple affair.
Although this is not a free WordPress directory plugin, as the old saying goes: you get what you pay for.
Take a gander at the WordPress.org plugin directory. You'll see there are free solutions available, but none of them allow for paid listings for example. They also won't include premium features like custom fields and social media links for free in most cases.
Another thing free plugins won't include? A human plugin support team. Formidable has that and more. Let's take a closer look.
Build amazing directory websites
We mentioned earlier that Formidable's directory builder can help you build your directory site automatically. This is true no matter what type of directory you are building. However, Formidable includes three specific directory templates:
- Business directory
- Team directory
- User directory
Since we are learning how to create a business directory, let's see what's included if you choose that option. Here's what's included with a Formidable business directory:
- Embedded maps
- Reviews & ratings
- Listing owner contact
- Customizable forms & styles
- Front-end submissions
- Paid or free listings
- Multi-page listing submission form
The truth is there's actually a lot more included than that but... if we listed it all we would run out of space really quick! So rather than list all the features, we're going to show you how the installation process works.
The beautiful thing here is that building a business directory with WordPress & Formidable is as easy as clicking a few buttons! Just follow the installation wizard and that's it!
Other layout options for your business directory
Used alone, the Formidable directory plugin makes it easy for users to submit listings and display them in a grid-style directory with A-Z navigation.
If you'd prefer a table layout for your WordPress directory, then you can do this with the Posts Table Pro plugin. It works alongside the Formidable directory plugin to display your directory listings in a searchable, sortable table with filters. For larger directories, this can help people to find listings more easily.
You have full control over what information to display on the main directory page, and users can click through to a separate page for each listing.
What about WordPress directory themes?
Are there WordPress business directory themes? In a world where WordPress themes are everywhere, you better believe there are! But are they the best choice? We are biased, but we don't think so.
- Lack of support: WordPress themes are notoriously bad at support. This isn't a big deal if you buy a commercial theme like Astra. But with a niche business directory theme, you could be left in the dark.
- May not work with popular plugins: Plugin conflicts are common. It's better to go with a clean and stable theme as a foundation, then add plugins as you build the site. If your theme won't work with a plugin, you may be stuck. This is not true the other way around!
- Not always expandable: With a WordPress theme, you're often stuck with what you get. If it works, perfect. But even the most popular WordPress themes are only updated a couple of times per year at best. With a niche theme, that usually dips even lower.
For these reasons, we think it's better to go with a solid and stable theme, then add a few plugins to create your own custom solution. Remember, a plugin developer's main focus is creating a plugin that works with all themes.
Luckily, playing well with WordPress themes is something Formidable is renowned for. There's even a case where one of our users built a patient management system for a Cambodian hospital during his residency. He built the system in 2017 using Formidable... and it's still functioning today as of 2020... with no updates!
Getting started with your business directory listings site
To get started with the best WordPress business directory builder, all we need to do is follow these few steps:
- Install and activate the Formidable directory plugin
- Install and activate the directory add-on
- Follow the business directory setup wizard
- Check the autogenerated forms & pages
1. Install and activate the Formidable directory plugin
This part is pretty easy. To get started, head to our directory plugin pricing page and purchase the plugin. When you buy a Formidable directory plugin subscription, you get Formidable Forms + the directory add-on.
Usually, this process is as simple as installing any WordPress plugin, but in case you hit a snag, check out this guide. Of course, you can always connect with our support team if things aren't going as planned!
And by the way, our plugin has a 100% risk-free, money-back guarantee. Try Formidable for 14 days, and if you don't like it, we'll refund all your money. No questions asked!
2. Install and activate the directory add-on
By now you might be on a screen that shows the following image at the top:
If you are there, perfect! Keep following the wizard through and you'll be doing great.
If you aren't there, that's okay. In the WordPress admin, click on Formidable → Add-ons and then find the one labeled Directory. Install and activate that one.
3. Follow the business directory setup wizard
After that, you should be taken to the installation wizard directly. If you aren't, you can go to Formidable → Global Settings → Directory to find the same options we are covering below.
To build the forms, views, and pages you need for a business directory listings site, click on the Business Directory option. You can then choose your page titles for your listing submission page and your directory listing page.
4. Check the autogenerated forms & pages
Finally, you can check your autogenerated pages before publishing them. When they are creating with the wizard, they are saved as drafts by default.
Click on the View Page button to be taken to your business directory listing page.
You might want to check out the other autogenerated page too - the listings submission page.
So there you have it. Just by following the installation guide, you end up with the main components you need to build a business directory listing site:
- Page & form for users to submit new listings
- Automatically populated main listings page
- Automatically generated business profile pages for each listing
Of course, you'll still need to create quite a bit of content surrounding these elements, but the fact that this much of the work is done automatically is awesome. Without this, you'd need to be a pretty good coder to get the job done.
What's next for your new web directory? The sky is the limit! It all depends on the kind of site you want to build. If you want to monetize, for example, you could take things to the next level with featured listings.
To set those up, you'd just need to add a checkbox to your listing submission form. And by the way, the shortcode you may have noticed on your automatically generated pages? Those can be placed anywhere you want on your site.
The customization options are endless! In the coming months, we'll surely be expanding with more directory focused content, so be sure to keep it locked to the Formidable blog for more tips on creating the best directory site imaginable.
Ready to build your business directory? Try Formidable risk-free for 14-days with our 100% money-back guarantee. Get started with the Formidable Directory.