DirectoryEngine Review: Build an Online Directory with WordPress

Editor’s Rating
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Documentation and Support
DirectoryEngine Review: Build an Online Directory with WordPress


DirectoryEngine is a complete package for building an online directory website with WordPress. This theme includes all the features and tools you need to build a revenue generating directory.

DirectoryEngine is a complete package for building an online directory website with WordPress. This theme includes all the features and tools you need to build a revenue generating directory.


Professional appearance

Lots of great features

Helpful setup wizard

Visual Composer builder plugin included


More expensive than some other options

Less back end options and settings than some other themes

DirectoryEngine is the latest WordPress theme from Engine Themes and like their other offerings it has been built for a specific purpose. In this case, that purpose is creating an online directory of places and events. So if you are looking for a way to setup this type of website then WordPress and the DirectoryEngine theme could be the perfect combination.

Some of the specialist features of DirectoryEngine include Google Maps integration, front end submission forms, custom payment plans, and the ability to collect fees. As well as these useful features, you also get a great looking design for your online directory and the inclusion of a premium drag and drop page builder tool for no extra cost.

To find out if this theme is the right option for your online directory project, read on for our full DirectoryEngine theme review.

Directory Engine Theme Review

DirectoryEngine Features

The WordPress directory theme niche includes some very competitive and popular themes that are packed with useful features and stunning designs. In order to compete with the existing options, DirectoryEngine will need a combination of practical functionality and good looks in order to stand out from the crowd.

To give you an idea of the type of online directory website you can build using this theme, here is quick rundown of the features on offer:

  • Front end listing submission and management forms
  • Front end user registration forms and profiles
  • Drag and drop page builder tool (Visual Composer)
  • Create multiple custom payment plans
  • Support for PayPal and 2Checkout payment gateways
  • List places and events in your directory
  • Google Maps integration for displaying listing locations
  • Optional Geolocation tool
  • Optional infinite scroll for displaying listings
  • Advanced listings search system
  • Users can save listings as favourites
  • Visitors can leave comments and reviews on listings
  • Detailed profiles for all users
  • Set listing start and expiration dates
  • Make listings featured
  • Import demo content
  • Responsive layout for mobile visitors
  • Custom widgets and widgetized homepage areas

The DirectoryEngine theme package includes the premium Visual Composer drag and drop page builder plugin which on its own retails for $28. This best-selling plugin is included to allow you to easily create content rich layouts for the homepage and inner pages on your site. This can be done through the plugin’s drag and drop editor that is packed with elements that can be added to your layouts.

Visual Composer

On paper DirectoryEngine certainly has all the features you will need for building a successful online directory website, so let’s take a look and see how this theme works in practice, and how you can go about setting up and managing your website.

Listing Preview

Using Directory Engine

As this is an app theme it contains all the features you need to build a directory website with WordPress, without the need for any additional or third party plugins to add those essential directory features to your site. This makes getting started with this theme very quick and easy.

However, as the Visual Composer plugin is included in the package, you can quickly install this plugin by following the onscreen prompts.

Setup Wizard

Once the theme is activated on your WordPress site you are then prompted to launch the setup wizard which will guide you through the configuration process. Using the wizard is highly recommended as it gives you a great overview of the theme and helps to ensure you don’t miss out on any important features or settings that might need your attention.

Directory Engine Setup Wizard

Through the setup wizard you can install the sample data which will populate your site with places, place categories, and more of the content that makes up a directory website. Again this is recommended as it gives you a good overview of how the theme works and gives you an insight into how to manage your online directory.

Directory Engine Sample Data

It only takes one click to install the sample data and it can just as easily be deleted when you are ready to start adding your own content. Alternatively you use the demo content to show visitors how their listings will look when they sign up and make a submission.

Creating and Managing Places

The DirectoryEngine theme makes use of WordPress custom post types to manage the places that are stored in your online directory.

Directory Engine Place Custom Post Types

This is great as it keeps this content separate from your regular WordPress blog post content on the back end. By using the a custom post type for the places the developers have also been able to add a set of custom fields to the post editor and an options panel for storing and displaying place-specific information.

Directory Engine Custom Fields

However, as this theme makes use of front end content submission forms, registered users can create and edit their listings via the front end of your website.

Directory Engine Front End Place Form

This is a really important feature as it means anyone can use the website, whether they are familiar with WordPress or not, due to the fact that they don’t have to navigate the back end to add and manage their listings.

Once the listing information is submitted via the front end form it is stored in the custom post type and custom fields on the back end. Registered users can manage their listings via the front end forms to update them or add more information, while admin users can make changes to them through the back end post editor.

Directory Engine Custom Fields 02

The front end forms also make it very easy to promote your website as a self-service directory. This in turn removes a lot of the work that the site admin users would otherwise be carrying out that would result from having to add the individual listings and keep them up to date.

The site admin user can set the options for the listings so that they require manual approval before they go live, with email notifications sent out when a new listing is submitted to your directory.

As well as custom fields, the listings make use of custom taxonomies. In the case of the place listings, these taxonomies are location and category. Again the users can submit this information through the front end forms, and then that data is stored as a custom taxonomy on the back end.

Directory Engine Front End Place Form 02

While importing the sample data will create these taxonomies for you, you are free to add your own to suit the type of directory website you are building. These taxonomies can then be used to better organise your content and make it easier for your visitors to find exactly what they are looking for.

Directory Engine Custom Taxonomies

Once all the necessary fields have been populated, the listing is ready to go live and be published on your directory.

Published Place

Listing Events

As well as allowing you to list places and attractions in your directory, you can also publish events. Just like with places, users can sign up and begin submitting the details of their events through the front end submission forms.

Create an Event

Events are attached to places, so once a place has been submitted and approved on your directory, events can be created for that place. This could include special events such as parties, presentations, shows, or meet ups.

Monetization Options

If you want to generate revenue from your online directory then DirectoryEngine has all the features you need to do so. While you get the option to allow users to submit listings for free, you can just as easily setup one or more payment plans and then charge your visitors to add their place or event to your directory.

Payment Settings

Through the theme settings dashboard you can choose which of the two supported payment gateways to enable: PayPal and 2Checkout. You can also give your visitors the option of paying by cash and publish your bank account details for them to make the transfer.

Create a Payment Plan

DirectoryEngine gives you the option of creating multiple pricing plans, each with their own prices, duration, number of listings that can be submitted and other features.

Manage Payment Plans

Managing the payment plans that exist on your site is as easy as creating them in the first place, allowing you to edit or remove those that are no longer needed.

Custom Widgets and Sidebar Locations

This theme includes a number of purpose built widgets for displaying additional content in the widgetized areas of your website. As well as the traditional sidebar widget areas, DirectoryEngine also includes a number of full width widget areas, as well as four footer areas for displaying additional widgets.

Widget Areas

In addition to the core WordPress widgets, DirectoryEngine adds a number of specialist widgets to your website. They allow you to display the following types of content:

  • Place categories
  • Places
  • Recent blog posts
  • User reviews of places
  • Social network profiles
  • User testimonials

Each widget has its own settings which allow you to configure how they display their content and in what way.

Managing Users and Payments

Once your online directory is up and running and starting to attract visitors and paying users, this data can be viewed and tracked through the custom dashboard of your website.

Manage Payments

Under the payments section you can view all the payments that have been made to your website, with the ability to filter them payment method. Through the members section you can also view all the registered users on your site and see how many posts or comments they’ve made on your directory.

User Profile

Registered users also get their own profile on your directory which is viewable by all visitors through the front end of your website. The profile displays information about the user, such as their contact details, as well as any listings that they have submitted to the site.

Documentation and Support

As well as the helpful setup wizard which walks you through the steps necessary to get your directory website up and running, there is also a good set of online documentation to help you make the most of the features on offer from this theme.

The online tutorials cover everything from setting up the theme on your website, to using the widgets, and even how to use the included third party Visual Composer page builder plugin which is used to create the homepage layout for your site.

There are also user forums on the EngineThemes website where the different themes can be discussed and support questions posted.


The DirectoryEngine theme is available directly from EngineThemes for $89. While this is more than you might see premium themes listed for elsewhere, it’s pretty competitive when compared with the other online directory WordPress themes that are available.


DirectoryEngine has a very pleasing appearance that will help your directory website convey a professional image to your visitors and potential customers.  If you are planning to use the included monetization features to generate an income from your online directory then with this theme installed, you shouldn’t have any problems convincing your target audience you are offering a premium service.

When it comes to features, all the main boxes can be checked off, such as the ability to create multiple payment plans, support for places and events, front end submission forms, user profiles, and Google Maps integration.

The setup wizard is a nice touch and the custom theme dashboard works well to make it easy to see exactly what you can do with this theme and how you can get started as soon as it is activated on your site.

By including the premium Visual Composer plugin in the package, and also adding a number of custom widgets and sidebar locations, you get plenty of options for creating content rich layouts for the homepage and inner pages of your online directory.

Overall DirectoryEngine is a solid choice for anyone building a places and events directory with WordPress. However, as each online directory is different, with its own individual needs, it’s important to check out all the available directory themes and plugins for WordPress to find out which one is the best choice for your project.

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click on one of the links and purchase an item, we may receive a commission. All opinions however are our own and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.


  1. I will add they seem to have forgotten that an attached blog is the marketing that gets people to read your directory. They have some settings overriding standard WordPress options and the blog itself just looks awful. I’m trying to work with them now to get the code to make it look and function the way a modern blog does but the vast difference in time zones with the support team is making it a very, very long process. Just an FYI to those looking to purchase.

    1. Hi Robbin,

      What problems are you having with the blog section on this theme?

      On my installation I can see a list of blog posts and view them individually. The design is a little minimalist but I can’t see any glaring problems?


  2. Hi, this theme seems interesting!
    Can a website owner add multilple custom fields to a place, different than the ones that come with the theme by default?


    1. Hi Simone,

      Yes you can still add your own custom fields to a place with this theme. The ‘add new custom field’ meta box is still active on the post (place) editor screen on the WordPress admin backend so you can add them as needed. However you will have to find out how to output them on the front end yourself.

      Hope this helps.


  3. Looking at the last Con bullet point that you mentioned, what kind of back end options and settings are missing from this theme that other themes have?

    1. Hi Rod,

      Thanks for the question. I was referring to the settings for changing the appearance of the site. You get a few options for uploading a logo and changing some colours, but the theme doesn’t make much use of the WordPress Customizer, and through the custom control panel you don’t get the vast array of customization options found with some other themes – such as those to text including typefaces, colours, etc. Although this might not be a problem for you if you like the general look and feel of the theme out of the box.

      Also with some other directory themes I’ve used, you get a wall of settings covering each little detail of how your site works. Again this is personal preference as to whether you think that’s a good thing or not. I can’t think of anything that is really missing from the options and settings of this theme, but perhaps you don’t get the granular control you might get elsewhere.

      Hope this helps.


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