Brilliant Directories – A Better Tool Than WordPress for Directory Sites?

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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: Not always. A tool called Brilliant Directories might actually be a better solution.
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Brilliant Directories for directory sites

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:

Not always.

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.

To help you make that decision, I’m going to dig into Brilliant Directories and compare it against some of the popular WordPress directory themes and plugins.

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
  • Jobs
  • Local businesses
  • Coupons
  • Events
  • Classified ads
  • Catalogs
  • Articles

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:

Selling leads.

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, 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.

If you want to see it in action, you can either sign up for a 14-day free demo or check out Pure Local Australia, a third-party website using Brilliant Directories.

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Colin Newcomer

Colin has been using WordPress for over a decade and is on a quest to test all 60,000+ plugins at He has been a Writer and Product Review Expert for WP Mayor since 2017, testing well over 150 products and services throughout that time.

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11 Responses

  1. This was a great read thank you. To be honest, their webiste is out of date and their product is too. I guess they stopping updating or caring about their customers.

    We tried appthemes and this was the same, it seems that many developers have stopped working on diretory websites.

    Finally we found PremiumPress and there product is great. I would highly recommend you try their themes.

  2. After spending too much time and money on BD I have switched to a similar but less expensive software The best thing about them is their super responsive support. And you can host the script on your own server – a big plus for me.

  3. I just ran a speed test on BD site and it loaded in 2.46 seconds. Very happy with the performance.

  4. Brilliant directories website loads in 9 seconds.

    All websites are hosted on shared server and the performance of the server is very poor.

    They must improve and create more reliable, affordable and better hosting plans.

    Other than that, its excellent software.

  5. Hi, I am looking at BD. I have used WordPress a lot in the past, and I have also used Squarespare and tried Shopify. Is BD based on WordPress? Is it a customised version of WordPress? Looking at their home page thats what it looks like. So are the themes they give their customised a customised wordpress solution. I have no issues paying for a solid solution even if its based on WordPress. Thanks.

    1. They are not WordPress. They are a standalone platform, similar to how Shopify is for eCommerce websites.

  6. Hello,Colin

    Thank you for the explanatory review.I was wondering what are the options BD to be integrated with an e-commerce solution?I understand that software is designed to be directory,but since the setup look alike a social network maybe there is a way this to be done.


  7. I currently have several online directories. 2 With PremiumPress wordpress theme and 2 with Brilliant Directories (BD). I have to say that the BD platform has so many more built in directory features than my wordpress theme.

    I also tested Shopify for an eCommerce project I started and compared it to a WordPress theme MOSI.

    Shopify – like BD is a SaaS solution ( you pay monthly and they provide the hosting) – you also don’t get to download the entire source code like a wordpress theme – but i do have access to the templates and page layouts which is all i really need. they are more expensive, you pay monthly – but it’s a dedicated solution that does something and does it very well. I like the fact that with BD I can email their support team and they shoot for a 1 day response time. I pretty much get nothing woth my wordpress themes beyond community forum posts, crossing my fingers and hoping for help.

    In my opinion – if you need a straight forward directory site, nothing fancy, and not trying to beat out any competitors, wordpress themes are fine. But with BD, you do get a more powerful site that can compete with larger etablished sites – not to mention access to support.

    So wordpress is good for simpler sites and small communitues with no expectations to be “amazing” in my opinion. BD for direcotry sites and Shopify for eCommerce can you help your brand/project grow faster.

    I did opt for the one-time payment for the BD site, so there is no monthly payment with my site and I still get all their support help.

  8. What we hear more frequently from old customers of theirs, that decided to move to our products is:

    – didn’t work out
    – a lot of back & forth
    – expensive customization
    – not flexible at all
    – way too expensive compared to any WP solution
    – not self hosted

    Got to add… it’s very sad to see WP Mayor promoting non WordPress products.

    1. re: Got to add… it’s very sad to see WP Mayor promoting non WordPress products.

      It’s good to have discussions about all options out there and not be biased to only one thing. More information and more discussions will help everyone find the best solution for their own needs. I have multiple sites with many different platofrms and cherish my WP sites very much – including ecommerce sites with WP themes, Magento and Shopify – and all are good at different things and different levels.

      Thank you WP Mayor for being honest in your findings to your readers and sharing many options in this article. There is no doubt that people will find good uses for all the solutions you shared in this article.

  9. Nice write-up Colin. Been looking at BrilliantDirectories (as well as eDirectory) recently so this post is timely. I agree that BD seems to be a far superior solution out of the box that WP, however, a major concern for me is not owning the platform. What are your thoughts?

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