Discover three powerful ways to create a searchable database on your WordPress site. Organize data efficiently and enhance website functionality with ease.
Approximate read time: 5.5 minutes
If you're like most business owners, you've got tons of data coming in from users on your website every day.
Hidden inside those numbers and statistics are the secrets to potential income. But what is the best way to manage all that data?
Build a searchable database website!
And this guide will show you exactly how to create an online searchable database today!
But first, let's talk about the difference between a standard WordPress database and a simple searchable database.
Difference between a WordPress database and a searchable database
All WordPress sites have a database built into every installation.
But the basic database has few tools for searching or analyzing your database stores. In other words, WordPress will collect and hold the data for a website, but making heads or tails of what it means is up to you.
A WordPress database is a digital storage bank of information. When a user fills out a form, the responses are stored in the website's backend.
A searchable database allows you to store, search, and connect all information. It is the best way to take all the valuable data pouring into your website and turn it into actionable trends.
And that leads to the question: How do you add a custom database to WordPress websites?
After all, what good is a database of information if you can't do a database search in WordPress?
👉 Want to know more about the best relational database plugin?: The Best Relational Database Plugin for WordPress
Searchable Database Options for WordPress
The easiest solution? A searchable database plugin for WordPress! Or at least a plugin that will help you make one!
A good WordPress database search plugin will have these core elements:
- Methods to input data (forms or data import)
- A user interface or dashboard to search, sort, and filter data through forms, fields, and search functions
- Tools to visualize data & build data relationships
- Search and Replace for WordPress
So to get you started, we'll show you 3 of the most common ways to create a searchable database in WordPress.
Let's get to creating a WordPress searchable database website!
How to make a searchable database in WordPress
To start, here are the database creation methods we'll cover today:
- Code the database yourself from scratch
- Use a powerful form-building plugin
- Install a WordPress database plugin
1. Code the database yourself from scratch
Ready to test your coding skills?
Luckily, the WordPress admin has a MySQL database name with phpMyAdmin installed by default.
But here's where you must ask yourself: Will your database be as huge as websites like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube? Or are you building something smaller in scale?
If you're not planning for massive scaling in the future, custom coding may not be worth the hassle or money it costs to hire a programmer to set up WordPress hosting with a web host, usernames and passwords, and your database.
We guess you’re looking for an easier way to create a website with a searchable database! After all, why spend time and money reinventing the wheel? Let's move on to the next method for creating a WordPress search database: plugins.
2. Use a powerful form-building plugin
As mentioned above, making a searchable database website might be challenging unless you are a big-time code wizard.
There is another way to set up your WordPress website with the online database you're hoping for. You can use an advanced WordPress form builder plugin!
But first, what's the difference between form-building and database plugins?
Form-building plugins do more than just databases! You can build contact forms, conversational forms, landing pages, and more with an all-in-one form builder plugin.
Conversely, WordPress database plugins can only do one thing: be a database management system.
Save yourself time and effort, and download the drag-and-drop plugin from Formidable Forms. The free version gives you many of the searchable database features you need, and it works with any WordPress theme.
Get Your Searchable Database Plugin Now!
For example, here's more about Formidable's approach to database management:
Methods to input data
Form builders are all about data collection.
So you can be sure Formidable has you covered there. Create a form, add your fields, and publish it on any WordPress blog post or page. You're done!
Creating forms is simple, too. Just drag and drop form fields into the form building area:
Search, sort, and filter data
Wondering where all the collected data from form entries go?
In Formidable, all input data is stored in your WordPress database.
But don't worry about having to hack the code in your WordPress site to find it.
The Formidable Forms plugin has a fully developed user interface where you can manage entries from the back end.
That creates a WordPress database with an interface that can:
This will be all you need for most WordPress users looking to create a searchable database. The simplicity of a database that’s like having a database in Excel. You can use a search bar and filter the search results
But what if you're using forms to create posts, pages, or other post types? What happens with the data, then?
Good news. Formidable Forms hates database duplication as much as you do. This means the entries are stored with regular WordPress posts and custom fields.
Make Your Searchable Database Now
It also means you can edit the data from wherever you'd like, and it'll be the same no matter how and where you use it.
The standard admin area in Formidable allows you to quickly view data tables, import data from CSV files, Google Sheets, or Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and filter search criteria to help you find data.
And if you are looking for even more customization, you can check out Formidable's tools for advanced data visualization below.
Learn more: How to Create a Custom Search Form in WordPress
Visualize data & build data relationships when you create a searchable database
With features like Lookup Fields, Formidable simplifies building dynamic field relationships.
For example, lookup fields let you create cascading fields for long lists (sometimes called chained-selects or dependent drop-down lists) like an auto dealership form:
In addition, every searchable database needs different methods of retrieving and displaying data. You can easily do this with Formidable's Dynamic Fields.
Take this example of a student database that filters by class:
And there are more ways to make dynamic relationships.
For starters, you can input data into database forms with dependent fields. Furthermore, you can create a searchable database to access the data and perform calculations.
You can also build data relationships between multiple forms.
Real-time updates and frontend charts and listings
But one more tool that Formidable has makes it easy to visualize your data. It's called Views.
This handy feature allows you to take any data and display it visually however you see fit. For example, you can show your data in listings, menus, and charts.
Even better, you can update your website's data to users in real time based on form submissions.
This allows you to create a custom and targeted experience for each user.
With Formidable's unique Views, you can create a WordPress searchable database better and faster than you thought possible.
With Views, create relationships that automatically display form data as soon as it enters your database.
3. Install a WordPress database plugin
The final option takes us back to the WordPress.org plugin directory. This time, you'll look for a WordPress database plugin.
Guess what? There are a lot of them!
Some honorable mentions include the Participants Database and wpDataTables. If we had to choose, it would be the latter.
Fortunately, wpDataTables has a Formidable Forms add-on that makes it easy to use the best of both WordPress plugins.
The data collection tools in Formidable are great, and wpDataTables has a lot of easy options to display your data.
For more info, check out this awesome video:
You’ve now learned how to add a database to your WordPress site.
Which option will you choose?
Get Your Searchable Database Plugin Now!
Good luck using WordPress to create a database for your site! If you’d like more database information, we recommend learning how to save form entries to your database easily.
Last, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for more database tips!
Learn more about WordPress database possibilities
It's easy to get started with Formidable Forms. Try our premium form maker risk-free with our 14-day money-back guarantee.
Marié Cruywagen says
I can vouch for both Formidable Forms and wpDataTables. A super combination which enables you to build dynamic, flexible systems in no time.
Charles Swann says
I love the idea of searching by car part. I tried using a plugin for this for a customer a while back and it ended up being abandonware. Is there a way to associate say a part with the filter to a woocommerce product? For example you have a headlight that is for a 2006 honda civic. So with the database you filter by year make and model and then it would give you the product you are are looking for assuming you can associate the make with a woocommerce product. There are great databases of car types and makes out there that you can buy and then upload them into WordPress with a csv to build the database.
Sorry for the very late response! This isn't a setup we have tried exactly. There is almost always a way to do things like this, but it may take a bit of thought and trying out a few different options.
You could easily add an auto parts form like this into a WooCommerce product. The tricky part would be integrating this with individual WooCommerce products.
Wow! I've muddled my way through writing custom views before, but that wpDataTables plugin looks like a winner! That's crazy simple and I can share that with some of our less technical staff to build out their data views too. Thanks!
David Farr says
I have made use of Formidable with success but was not aware of the integration with wpDataTables which opens up some interesting options.
Jezrel Jane Himbing says
This is an amazing and interesting combination! 😀
Jason Earrame says
I could see how this could be really useful with the right kind of website. I am going to keep it bookmarked.
Jermaine Rodriguez says
wpDatatables for the win, for sure! The wpDatatable Formidable Views plugin is nice, but I get the most leverage out of the program by creating a custom page template that generates a temporary MySQL table for wpDataTables to use, it REALLY flies!!!
The necessary Formidable to MySQL table was presented in the old community forum a few years ago, and now I can't find it, but I still use it all the time.
Would love to share the query if interested, not beginner level stuff, but makes you look like a pro with the finished result.
Mohamed Benhandil says
Woow, that's absolutly amazing, but i have a question, for exemple, i have a list of students data, and i create the search form, and one day a student search his name in teh search box and he find it, is there any way to download his information in a Pdf like generating pdf can containt all his information in his column data ?
Md. Faisal Sarker says
Patricia García says
WordPress is easy to understand with this articles!
Glad I found this article. I've been meaning to use this functionality.
Always giving the best tips! I’ve bookmarked it to give it a try.
Thanks for this! I am looking forward to creating the searchable database using Formidable Forms.
Milan Milićev says
Great read. I didn't know that Formidable can do this.