GeoDirectory is a new plugin from the creators of GeoTheme, a popular location-based directory WordPress theme that was first released a few years ago. The developers made the transition from theme to plugin for this project in order to allow any WordPress user, no matter what theme they have installed, to build a fully featured directory listings website.
This means that if you are building a directory website with WordPress, you are no longer forced to choose one of the directory app themes in order to get access to all the premium directory features required to build a professional site of this type.
However, if you are looking for a suitable theme, the developers of GeoDirectory have just released a theme that has been created to seamlessly integrate with this plugin.
This move from theme to plugin follows the trend pioneered by some other popular WordPress plugins including WooCommerce, BuddyPress, and bbPress. This approach allows users to add a whole extra level of functionality to their site, while still having the ability to use a theme of their choice.
Like the above plugins, the core functionality of GeoDirectory is free, with free and premium addons available to allow you to add the features you need to your site as and when they are required.
In this GeoDirectory plugin review we will take a look at the features of the core plugin, as well as the addons that are currently available for it. We will also explore how easy it is to use from both the admin and end user perspectives.
Features of GeoDirectory
GeoDirectory has all the features you would expect to find in an app theme or plugin which has been built to let you create a professional directory site with WordPress. To give you an idea of what you can do with this plugin, and the type of site you can build, here is an overview of some of the best features of this plugin, including the addons that are available for it.
Google Maps are widely used on any site built with this plugin. In fact GeoDirectory includes two widgets for displaying maps: one for the directory homepage, and another for the listings pages. The maps can display thousands of markers, making them ideal for large directory sites.
As well as browsing the maps and clicking on the markers, visitors to the directory can also use the two-field search tool. Visitors can enter a name or category in one field, and then location-based information in the other, such as the zip code or town. Blog posts and pages are excluded from the directory search results to keep the results relevant, with only directory listings being shown.
Once the visitor has found a listing and used the service, they can leave a rating and review evaluating the business, or other entities that are listed in your directory. These user ratings and reviews can all be moderated by the site admin. With this plugin, users also get the ability to flag their favourite listings to help them quickly find them again when they return to the site.
Social sharing is also actively encouraged with this plugin, as each directory listing can feature social icons and an option to email a particular listing to a contact.
Listings can be imported in bulk via a CSV file which can help you save a lot of time when setting up your directory. The plugin includes an example CSV file with all the relevant columns, in order to help you get started with importing data in this way.
When it comes to widgets, this plugin isn’t lacking. The 12 widgets can be added to the sidebar of your site to display useful information to your visitors. However, the plugin also adds two front page widget areas, and a number of other widget areas to your site. These allow you to add the available widgets to your homepage, giving you the ability to display content such as a listing slider, maps, popular listings, and many more directly on your homepage.
Visitors to the site can use the frontend forms to register, and login, without ever having to catch a glimpse of the WordPress admin area, allowing to you provide a consistent user experience for your directory site.
You also get the ability to customise or build your own submission forms to match the type of entities you are listing in your directory. Being able to add any field of your choice to the forms ensures your visitors can submit the relevant data for their listings.
The interface for building the forms is easy to use and it’s just a case of dragging and dropping the desired field on to the form panel. Each form field has its own set of detailed settings giving you lots of control over how the form functions.
When it comes to monetizing your directory, there are a number of payment options you can take advantage of. Through the admin panel you can set general pricing information such as the currency and symbols, but you can also do a lot more. This includes:
- Setting listings to automatically expire
- Setting the number of days for a listing to stay active (or unlimited)
- Selecting which listing fields each pricing plan has access to
- Accept recurring payment via PayPal
- Create featured listings
- Set which categories a listing can be posted to
- Number of images which can be uploaded
- Create multiple pricing plans
- Choose from multiple payment gateways
While all of the above applies to directory listings, if the events addon is installed, they can all be applied to events listings too.
The payment options don’t stop there though. With GeoDirectory you can also manage the invoices which are generated for those paying for a listing submission. A further feature is the ability to create discount coupons.
The discount coupons can be set to be either a fixed amount off of a place or event listing, or a percentage off of the total cost. The plugin lacks the more advanced features of a full featured coupon solution, such as expiration after a set date or certain number of uses. However, the coupons can be made inactive at any time if you want to end the promotion.
Under the payment settings, you also get the option of creating notifications which are automatically sent out to users when they sign up and make a payment.
From an admin user perspective, the developers of GeoDirectory have attempted to make it as easy as possible to configure and manage this plugin. The styling of the native WordPress UI is strictly adhered to, and all the options can be found in one place in the backend, making finding the right setting you are looking for straightforward.
This plugin should also appeal to developers who are looking for something that has the potential to be efficiently extended. Thanks to the use of a number of hooks and filters, the functionality can be extended without modifying any of the code of the core plugin.
There is also no need to worry about compatibility with other popular plugins as GeoDirectory is fully compatible with the WPML plugin allowing you to create multilingual directories using the best plugin for this purpose. It’s also compatible with the most popular SEO plugins, increasing the chances your target audience will be able to find your site in the search engines.
The GeoDirectory Theme
While one of the main attractions of this plugin is that it can be used with any WordPress theme to allow you to build a directory site with the design of your choice, the developers have also created a compatible theme framework.
The GeoDirectory Theme Framework has been designed to work closely with this plugin, although it can be used on its own or with another plugin of your choice. The framework is 100% responsive for visitors who are viewing your directory on smartphones or tablets.
The GeoDirectory framework can also be customized by using the built-in WordPress theme options control panel. This allows you to make changes to the colours, and other styling aspects of your website to get the look you want.
If you are still looking for a theme for your directory listings website then this newly released framework is the ideal companion for the GeoDirectory plugin. The developers also plan to realise child themes for this framework, giving you a range of options for setting the appearance of your site.
While the core GeoDirectory plugin is free, there is a growing selection of premium addons which can be used to extend the features and functionality of this plugin. You can view the full list of addons from the developers of GeoDirectory on the relevant section on their website, but here is a small selection of the available options to give you an idea of what can be added to this plugin:
- Events: this addon allows your users to list events on the site, turning it into an event promotion directory.
- Multilocation: allow your listings to be grouped by multiple locations, at the following levels: countries, regions, cities, and neighbourhoods.
- Prices and Payments: monetize your directory site by setting up pricing packages, and integrating your site with PayPal, Google Wallet, and other payment gateways.
- Claim Listings: to help your site get up and running, you can create listings on behalf of businesses, who can then claim the listings and take control of them for a fee.
- GeoDirectory Theme: optional theme for building sites with this plugin.
To view the current list of extensions for GeoDirectory, and their individual prices, visit the addons page now.
Admin User Experience
As the core features of GeoDirectory are available via the free plugin, it can be installed directly from inside your WordPress dashboard by searching the WordPress.org plugin directory. Once installed and activated, a new menu item is added from where the GeoDirectory control panel can be accessed. The addons are installed by downloading them from the developer’s website and then uploading them into your WordPress admin area, or to the server via FTP.
The options are vast, with multiple sections, and each section having its own set of tabs. While a lot of these options can be left at their default values, if you really want to make the most of this plugin then it is definitely worth exploring them when you get a chance.
When getting started with the plugin, through the control panel, you get the option to use dummy data to create some listings or events, import a CSV file, or start with a blank canvas. Importing the dummy data is a good idea as it can give you an insight into how the plugin handles listings or events and what sort of data they can hold. The listings created with the dummy data can be deleted at any point, at the touch of a button.
Through the admin control panel, the plugin also comes with lots of settings for configuring the design and layout of your site. This includes options such as setting the width of certain areas, setting the directory homepage as your site’s homepage, and much more.
There really is an almost endless amount of settings for this plugin. While this is a good thing as it gives you lots of control over how your site is setup and functions, it will take some time to work your way through all the options.
Once you’ve explored the extensive settings, you can view the existing listings on your site, or create some new ones via the admin interface.
From the Places (or Events) post type menu, you can view all the listings just as you would with regular WordPress post types, including changing their status and other settings via the Quick Edit option.
If you want to edit an existing listing, it’s just a case of clicking on the edit link to go through to the Places editor. From this screen, you can add, or edit the existing description, and make use of all the regular WordPress post features such as custom fields, and excerpts, as well as the option panels that GeoDirectory adds to the editor screen for the Places custom posts.
These options panels that are added to the new listings page give you the ability to:
- Set a price package
- Set the expiry date or number of days to stay active
- Make the listing claimable
- Add place taxonomies (categories and tags)
- Enter the listing details (location, URLs, etc.)
- Uploading Place attachments (images, documents, etc.)
When you are happy with the listing, it can be published like a regular post in WordPress.
That about covers the admin user experience. There are plenty of settings to ensure you are able to configure your directory site in the way that you want. Managing and creating individual listings via the backend is very straightforward, and you also get the option to bulk import listings via a CSV file.
End User Experience
The theme you are using and the way you have configured the plugin will affect the appearance of a site using GeoDirectory, but a common configuration choice for directory sites is to feature a large map on the homepage.
The homepage map that is included with GeoDirectory allows visitors to zoom in and click on the markers that have been added for each listing. Alternatively, visitors can filter the listings by category, and then search by location and keyword. A further option is to browse the listings via the widgets which can be added to the homepage including popular listings, and latest listings.
The individual listings use tabs to display the different types of information, such as the description, reviews, and the location map. This works well and allows you to display lots of information about each listing without forcing your visitors to scroll down through the page to find the listing details.
If a listing contains multiple images, the user can scroll through those images using a slider, allowing your site to display many images in just one area of the page.
When it comes to adding a listing from the frontend, users can register an account by entering their name and email address, or login with their existing account details. They can then use the frontend forms, which you configured when setting up the plugin, to submit their listing.
If the user is creating a paid listing, they will be taken the payment gateway which has been enabled for the site to make a payment. Then their listing will be submitted for moderation, or published straight to site, depending on how GeoDirectory has been configured.
Visitors to your directory site shouldn't have any difficulties browsing the listings or submitting one of their own. The interface is easy to use, although the theme you are using will determine the layout and how the listings are displayed.
The core GeoDirectory plugin is free, with the addons being available at different prices. However, to give you an idea of how much this all might cost, all the addons that are currently available can be purchased for $150, including support.
In most cases you will need to purchase at least some of the addons in order to build a fully functional directory site. This means it’s important to take those costs into consideration when comparing this plugin against the best premium WordPress directory themes that are available.
This plugin makes a great alternative to the selection of premium directory app-themes that are currently available. While some of those themes are excellent, they do force you to change your site's WordPress theme in order to get access to the powerful directory features they contain.
With GeoDirectory, you can use your site’s existing theme, or a new theme of your choice, and still build a fully featured directory listings site.
Although the core plugin is free, for anyone serious about building a professional directory website, they will have to invest in some of the premium addons. With the full package of addons available for $150 (including the GeoDirectory theme), the price is comparable to some of the other best directory themes out there, such as Directory from Templatic and Vantage from AppThemes.
When you take into consideration the price of those two themes doesn't include support for use on more than one website (Directory), or all the available extensions (Vantage), then the $150 price for GeoDirectory with all addons and use on unlimited sites is more than comparable.
Choosing to use a plugin instead of a theme does have its advantages. As anyone is free to create addons for GeoDirectory, there is a good chance many third party developers will start producing extensions for this plugin, much in the same way they currently do for other WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads. If this does happen then the number of features which can be added to your directory site will grow considerably.
When it comes to the features of this plugin, plus the addons, it does a great job of competing with the other options available for building a site of this type, which for the most part happen to be directory WordPress themes. There weren’t any important features that were lacking and the ability to use GeoDirectory with any WordPress theme will make it a great choice for many users. The large number of options and settings might appear daunting at first, but that is the price you pay for using a powerful tool like this.
If you are looking for a plugin to enable you to build a directory site using WordPress, in order to list businesses, places, events, or other attractions, then GeoDirectory comes highly recommended.