Is WordPress really the best tool to create a directory site? Despite the WordPress-centric focus of WPMayor, I’m going to give an answer that might surprise you:
Please, hear me out. Don’t burn me at the stake just quite yet…
While WordPress can create functional directory sites, it’s still a generic CMS being tweaked to work as a directory site. It’s not an actual directory site CMS. Get what I mean?
If your site is only and always going to be a directory, you might be better off going off with a dedicated directory solution. Namely, Brilliant Directories.
What Can Brilliant Directories Do?
I like Brilliant Directories because it’s turnkey. While you can probably make your WordPress site do everything that Brilliant Directories does (eventually…), it will take more than just a theme. You’ll need plugins to handle email marketing, member management, social integration, and any number of other features.
With Brilliant Directories, everything is there from the start.
What Kind of Directory Sites Can Brilliant Directories Create?
Brilliant Directories is set up to be able to create pretty much any type of directory site. If your topic can be categorized and searched, Brilliant Directories can probably help you do it. You can create directories for:
- Real estate listings
- Local businesses
- Classified ads
Brilliant Directories can also help you create Yellow Pages style listings as well membership communities.
When you purchase Brilliant Directories, you get access to all of those themes. And while the general aesthetic is the same across all themes, that’s still like getting access to 11 different themes.
For example, saw what the jobs directory looked like above. You can then compare that to the real estate directory:
Very similar looks, but all the functionality is optimized for the specific topic.
You can also easily customize brand imagery and other styles from the Brilliant Directories dashboard:
But it’s not just about the themes. Brilliant Directories comes with a lot more.
Built-in Email Marketing Tools
Here’s where Brilliant Directories starts really distinguishing itself from WordPress.
First off, it comes with integrated newsletter sign-up forms. I know, that’s not very hard to do with WordPress. Here’s where it gets cool, though:
After they sign up, you can manage your subscribers’ contacts from within your dashboard:
And you can even send them emails using one of the 50+ included templates:
You can also send custom emails using mail merge tags for customization. And if you want to divide up your subscribers, you can add tags to create segmented email lists.
I don’t know of any WordPress themes that can do that without third-party help. Typically, you’d need to sync up with a third-party email marketing service to get that functionality with WordPress.
Easy Lead Generation + Tools to Sell Leads
Brilliant Directories makes it easy to add a new revenue stream to your directory site:
Your directory site can automatically generate leads from two main methods:
- A regular contact form
- A “get matched” form
The regular contact form looks like this:
And the get matched form looks like this:
Get matched is especially interesting because it allows your members (for example, real estate agents) to bid on the leads you collect. You can, of course, also give away leads for free if you’d like. You don’t have to sell leads – it’s just there if you want to.
And you can, of course, also manage all of your leads from inside the Brilliant Directories dashboard:
Again, a unique feature that you’re unlikely to find built-in to any WordPress directory theme or plugin. Maybe you can hack your way around WordPress to build this feature, but not without a lot of hard work.
Easy Payment Gate Integrations
This feature isn’t as unique as the previous two – most WordPress themes and plugins include some type of payment integration. But it is a very important feature.
Brilliant Directories lets you accept payments for listings via PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net and others.
What are these payments for? Typically, they’re for paid listings. For example, if you create a real estate listing website, you can charge for premium listings:
Subscribers can then directly pay from the account creation page.
Member Management System
Remember how I said you can sell leads? You’ll primarily be selling them to your members.
Depending on what type of directory you have, members could be real estate agents, job seekers, recruiters, businesses, and so on.
No matter what type of members you have, you’ll be able to manage both free and premium memberships from your dashboard.
And if you want to collect more information about your members, you can add custom fields to the sign up form:
Is the Brilliant Directories Dashboard Easy to Use?
If you’re familiar with WordPress, I think you’ll have zero problems using the Brilliant Directories dashboard.
For example, the Add New Content page looks fairly identical to the WordPress Editor:
And the rest of the dashboard items also very similar to WordPress.
Brilliant Directories vs. WordPress Directory Themes and Plugins
I don’t want to completely disparage WordPress directory themes and plugins in this post. There are some great options. And if you like the familiarity and extendability of WordPress, I don’t think it’s wrong decision to go with a WordPress directory solution.
To compare the two, here are a couple popular directory themes and plugins and how they stack up against Brilliant Directories.
Brilliant Directories vs. Business Directory Plugin
Business Directory Plugin was #1 on Jean’s list of WordPress directory plugins. What’s it like when pitted against Brilliant Directories?
It can help you create yellow pages style websites, a local business/service directory, local provider listings, and more.
That’s actually pretty flexible – but I think Brilliant Directories still wins out with its eleven different directory options.
Design wise – there’s no competition. Business Directory Plugin looks like a regular WordPress theme with directory function added on top, Brilliant Directories looks like a dedicated directory site:
I admit it’s not really a fair competition – Business Directories Plugin is free, Brilliant Directories is by no means free.
With the right premium add-on modules, you can improve the design of Business Directories Plugin and accept payments. You can also accept member registrations and integrate with some membership plugins for more advanced functionality.
And that’s kind of my point – you need to add modules or more plugins to get all of the functionality to compete.
Business Directory Plugin is a good solution for adding a directory to an already existing website – but it’s not powerful enough to compete with Brilliant Directories as a stand-alone directory website.
Brilliant Directories vs. Directory Engine
Directory Engine is one of my favorite WordPress directory themes. So how does it compare?
First off, Directory Engine is mostly geared towards geographic places. So if you want to create, say, a job listing site, you’re out of luck.
On the design front, Directory Engine competes much better than Business Directory Plugin. I would say the front-end design goes toe-to-toe with Brilliant Directories:
While it does offer payment processing and the ability to sell listings, the checkout process doesn’t look nearly as pretty as Brilliant Directories. And you’re missing out on the dedicated lead management, email marketing, and membership levels.
While you can manage members through the WordPress user listings, it’s not a dedicated system.
Brilliant Directories vs. Any Other Directory Theme or Plugin
I could keep going with my comparisons, but in the end it comes down to this. The main advantage WordPress-based directory solutions have is this:
They cost less money.
That doesn’t mean they’re cheaper when all is said and done. It just means you literally have to pay less money to start a site on WordPress.
But when you go with WordPress, you will spend more “money” in sweat equity. You’ll need to hack and cajole your site to get it to work perfectly, whereas Brilliant Directories is more “plug and play”.
If you really can’t afford Brilliant Directories, that may well be the best solution for you. But if you’ve got the budget and are serious about your directory site, I think Brilliant Directories offers the best final product.
So How Much is Brilliant Directories?
I told you above – from a purely monetary perspective, Brilliant Directories isn’t cheap. You can either pay $1,450 one-time, $950 per year, or $145 per month.
But remember – with that, you’re paying for a fully turn-key solution. If you can swing the budget, you’ll get a more full-featured directory site than most of the (admittedly cheaper) WordPress solutions offer.