To build a complete directory website that meets all users’ demand requires a great deal of effort. After having your site equipped with basic features, is it enough for users to make frequent visit to your site? Well I’m afraid not. Often, users tend to ask more when their basic needs are fulfilled. For example, when they can search for places, they might want to be able to save, add some to favorite list for later view, or share to social network. Moreover, having more features than just the basic ones is crucial in differentiating your website. There’s no point creating thousands of websites when all have the same basic features, and there would be no reason for users to choose your site over others.
Having introduced basic features in a directory website, in this article, I will list out some add-on features that should be available in your directory site to make it more worthwhile.
Google Maps & Geolocation
The last decade has seen a sharp rise of geolocation and digital mapping services, such as Google Maps, Google Earth, Bing Maps. Apparently, a map-like interface helps visualizing our world much better. Only by one click can we explore every corner of this planet. Hence, the integration of Google Maps and geolocation into your directory website is beneficial. It would allow your users to not only search for the address of a place but also effectively locate it on the map and easily determine how to get there using direction guide feature.
Review, rating, report a listing
Review and rating system is a crucial part of a directory site. The benefits it bring to you and your users are many.
Mentioning the users, the ability to write reviews, give ratings means you are giving them a voice to share their experience and feeling about a place. Moreover, ratings and reviews are a good source for users to get information about a listing. This is because these reviews are user-generated content which makes it more reliable than traditional content shouted out from the place itself.
On the other hand, having a rating and review section would help establish a trustful information system about your listings. The more reviews given to a directory, the more attention it grabs from the users. Besides, this feature also enforces user engagement and encourages interaction across the page which is a factor that keeps customers coming back to your website.
Likewise, users should be able to report any listing that seems to have inappropriate content in order to help you efficiently remove bad listings or even spams on your site.
Smart nearby place suggestion
Enabling geolocation on site also helps the system be able to suggest interesting nearby places. Nearby place suggestion is a cool feature serving for Search function. This feature is useful when your users still wander and don’t know exactly what they want, where they like to go. Using this location-based suggestion, users will have a chance to discover something new around their neighborhood. Especially, those who don’t have much time to search around and drive to a far away place, nearby places are really a convenient choice.
Save to favorites
Another cool feature you should consider to put in your directory website is the ability to Save places as favorites for later view.
This is similar to your bookmarks on your computer. Sometimes when your users are browsing through directory listings on your site and there are some interesting places catching their eyes, they might want to save these directories to a place for later action. Making a bookmark on your computer is okay, but users might get confused with different types of links from any kinds they save. Therefore, to have a separate space on your site which is exclusively dedicated to storing users’ favorite places is a good idea of not missing out any good places to shop, eat and more.
This is undoubtedly one of the best ways to make your contents go viral. It generates more traffic to site and increases interest in your online business. Social sharing buttons simplify the act of sharing within several clicks, as well as give your listings greater exposure to more potential users. Especially, place owners on your directory website will definitely love this feature.
Users won’t be online 24 hours a day so a notification system is beneficial. It can be live notifications on site to help users keep track of what is happening and what they might have missed. And you can utilize email notification as a good reminder to trigger more visits to your site.
Setting up an email system would not be complex at all if you can find a WP directory theme offering a complete set of email templates. You just need to edit the content to suit your site.
Some built-in email templates
This features gives place owners a section to announce special events and promotions to site visitors. A separated space from place details will bring about a better display and capture more attention from customers.
A well-designed event listing form should have such fields as event title, date, time, location, event description and photos.
A sample event listing form
Claim a listing
One of the difficulties in the first days of a directory website is how to get a lot of place owners to submit their listings. In this case, Claim a listing is considered a great solution. You will add multiple listings to your site and make them claimable so that the true owners can claim the ownership later. Once an owner has successfully claimed a place, he will take control of it and add more valuable data. As a result, Claim a listing feature helps your site filled with a big amount of content at first and allows the listings to belong to their true owners, who will improve listing contents.
You can set a place as claimable in the place submission form
Custom widgets, custom fields
Besides fixed features at fixed areas, custom widgets and fields are necessary for you to create blocks of content of your choice.
With custom widgets in WordPress, you are free to put content you want to show to site visitors on the sidebar. Some want to add the list of directory categories commonly used tags, while others may prefer to show most recent reviews, and latest promotion events, etc. Similarly, custom fields provide you with flexibility in creating more data input to a post, besides preset fields. For instance, in a listing submission form, there are required phone number and email fields to get contact with the place owner; however, if you want to add an “alternative email” field, custom field feature will help you to do it.
Talking about visual interface of a website, it is sure that no choice is similar to each other. You might like a set of bright colors, while other people prefer dark ones. And one can hardly tell which is better and that you should follow any colors. Therefore, it would be a plus for any directory theme that offers awesome color schemes so that you can use its presets or customize unlimited color schemes to perfectly match your preference.
Another important factor you should consider is that a WordPress directory theme should be compatible with different plugins (especially the popular and necessary ones such as Visual Composer, WP Total Cache, Yoast SEO). Good compatibility allows you to install needed plugins on your site and still be sure that all is operating well. Otherwise, it would cause you some troubles in getting the theme and plugins to work in harmony.
Last but not least, this feature is utterly essential for websites using any languages other than English. I know it’s a hassle having to translate all the content on your site. In this case, a directory theme that is translation friendly really helps.
Above is the list of worthwhile features I think you should consider adding to your directory website. I hope the introduction to these features together core ones in the last article help reduce some of your research stuff looking for the best WordPress directory theme. And luckily, the list doesn’t end here. While you’re reading this and feeling still something is missing, please don’t hesitate to add some more in the comment below for a more perfect feature list.
Some of the screenshots were taken from our DirectoryEngine theme. I guess you might want to take a look at it.