Vantage is a popular WordPress directory theme which has been designed to create a business and events listings site. This theme has been developed by AppThemes, who have produced a small number of what are known as application themes. These themes not only deal with the appearance of the site, but also add all the required features and functionality to WordPress, in order for the platform to be used to create a specific type of site.
Vantage is one of these application themes, and it contains all the tools needed to build a business directory listings website using WordPress. These listings could be for any type of business, or even tourist attractions, landmarks, and events. The listings are organised by using categories, making it easy for visitors to the site to find the type of business they are looking for. The theme also integrates with Google Maps so you can allow visitors to find a business by browsing the markers on a map. One advantage of choosing this theme to build your directory site with, is that there are a number of child themes available for it which can be used to totally change its appearance.
Read our review of the Vantage directory theme to find out if this theme is the best directory solution for your needs.
Overview of the Features of Vantage
Vantage aims to allow you to build a fully functioning directory website with WordPress. Two main types of entries can be stored in the directory: listings and events. Both or just one of these types can be enabled on your site, allowing you to decide what sort of information will be featured in your directory.
Listings can be created by the site admin users via the backend using WordPress custom post types. These work very similarly to regular blog posts in WordPress giving you an indication of how easy they are to work with.
The listings can also be created via the frontend of the website, by those wishing to add their business or event to the directory. The theme comes with a custom form builder to allow you to capture specific data about the type of entities featured on the site. Listings can also be mass imported to save you time and effort.
Browsing the Directory
Users have a number of options for browsing the listings in your directory. They can use the category structure, explore the optional homepage map, or using the search tool. As listings can be geo-coded to include their exact location on Google Maps, it makes it very easy for users of the directory to get directions and find their way to the location of each listing, whether it's a business, a facility, or a landmark. Users can search by location, including ZIP code, and then refine their search, filtering by distance using a handy slider.
Making Money from Your Directory
Your directory can be monetised by charging users to list their event or business on your site. There are a number of options for how you can charge for accepting a listing, including the creation of multiple pricing plans.
Vantage also supports recurring payments, allowing you make the renewal of paid listings a more hands-off affair for both you as the site owner, and those submitting their business or event to your directory.
To get a better idea of how this theme can be used, check out the live examples on the Vantage showcase page.
Detailed Look at the Theme’s Features and Settings
The above should have hopefully given you a good, but basic idea of what this theme has to offer. The next part of this review of the Vantage directory theme will go into more detail about the various features and settings on offer in order to help you establish whether this is the right tool for helping you to build a directory website.
As mentioned earlier, with Vantage there are two options for creating a listing on the directory: events and listings. Although under the standard listings option you can create any type of listing, there is an additional option which has been created for publishing the details of events such as festivals, concerts, conferences, or any other event.
Both types of listing can be enabled or disabled, with each having their own pricing options for charging users to add their listing or event to your site.
The information for both listings and events is stored in WordPress using custom post types. This means creating events through the backend is very similar to creating a regular post, using the same editor and options, but with some extra fields.
When creating a listing or event, the following information can be included:
- Separate event or listing categories and tags
- Contact information
- Hours of operation (listings only)
- Event days (events only)
- Pricing details
Once a listing (or event) has been created through the admin dashboard area of your site, it can be published like a regular post, to make it visible to visitors to the site.
Listings and events can also be imported and exported, allowing you to bulk add business stored in a spreadsheet or CSV file.
Frontend Submission Forms
While being able to create listings and events through the backend is useful, in order for your site to be a self-service directory, there needs to be an easy way for visitors to create their own listings on the site.
To enable this Vantage comes with standard forms for accepting listings and events through the frontend of the site. These forms fit in with the design of the rest of the site, making the process of submitting a listing very straightforward for users.
However the theme also comes with a custom form builder which allows you to create your own forms for collecting data. With the Vantage frontend form builder you can add a range of options for users to enter data, such as text fields, radio buttons, and checkboxes. This additional information about the listing is stored in a custom field on the listing post.
With this form builder, you get a visual editor for creating the forms. This makes it very easy to create your own forms for collecting specific data relevant for the type of services, businesses, or organisations your site will cater to. It’s also possible to have multiple forms should you require them.
Another interesting feature of Vantage is the ability to create claimable listings. By using this feature you can create listings on your directory on behalf of organisations before they’ve contacted you, and then mark them as claimable.
The idea is that when the organisation sees their listing on your site, they can choose to claim it by paying the necessary fee for posting a listing, allowing them to take ownership of it and add more details if necessary.
The benefit of doing this is that it can help you get your site up and running faster than waiting for businesses to come to you. By creating listings for businesses you can give your site some content, which will help increase the number of visitors it receives, as well as making it easier to demonstrate the site's potential and show customers what the site is all about.
You could also use the claimable listings you create to entice businesses to join your directory by sending them a link to the brief listing you’ve created for them, giving them the option to sign up and add more details to it to better promote their business.
This is a handy feature to have to help get your site up and running as quickly as possible, while still having the potential to monetise the listings you’ve created.
Geo Settings and Maps
Each listing can include a location, which can be connected to the Google Map service. This allows the visitors to your site to browse the listings by location, using the markers on the map.
By default Vantage is configured to use the Google Maps service. Through the settings you can define the region biasing. This ensures the correct version of a location is assumed. For example, if a user searches for London, then you can indicate to Google that they probably meant London, UK, rather than Canada, by entering the country code that applies to your listings.
With Vantage you get the option to monetise your site by charging a fee for publishing a business’s listing. Alternatively you can offer free listings and then monetise the site by displaying adverts or affiliate offers to visitors.
You can create multiple pricing plans for your visitors to choose from, and there are a number of options for setting them up:
- Number of days the listing will be live for (or unlimited)
- Whether the listing is featured on the homepage or category page (and if so, for how many days)
- How many categories the listing can be posted to
- Additional fees for specific categories
- The price
- Whether the payment is recurring (forced, optional, or non-recurring)
Configuring Pricing Plans and Payments
As the listings in the directory are organised by categories, you can choose to set an additional fee or surcharge for listings added to a particular category. This could be used to charge different rates to businesses that are known to generate more revenue, such as lawyers, or offer lower or no fees to charitable or non-profit organisations, such as museums.
By charging a fee for each category a listing is submitted to, you can also help dissuade users from submitting their listing to non-relevant categories in an attempt gain more exposure. As event listings are stored and managed separately from regular listings, they can have their own pricing and event category surcharges.
The payment settings also allow you to choose a currency and add a tax charge which is added to transactions. For receiving payments, bank transfers and PayPal are supported out of the box . With PayPal, you get the option to use a business/premier account, as well as setting up instant payment notifications. There are additional plugins available which allow you to increase the number of payment gateways your directory can use.
Listings are stored as orders under the admin dashboard, allowing you to quickly view them by their status, and then inspect them individually.
User Reviews and Ratings
Users of the site can leave reviews and ratings of the listings and the corresponding business. This can help to create a community around your directory and encourage visitors to keep coming back to continue the discussion. Business listings or events can be rated using a five star rating system giving another option for providing user feedback.
The reviews are essentially WordPress comments and are managed in the same way as regular comments. They can be moderated to ensure nothing untoward is published, and business owners can respond to any reviews left on their listing.
Extending Vantage with Plugins and Child Themes
At the AppThemes site, there is a marketplace which contains a number of plugins that can add new features to your directory. There are also a number of child themes which give you the option of changing the appearance of your site, including the newly released Directory child theme which features a modern and clean design.
Some of the addons you might be interested in include these products:
- Home Control: add widgets to your front page for a custom layout
- MapQuest: integrate with MapQuest
- TwinPress: a slightly more modern looking child theme
- User Locator: auto-populate the directory with the user's location
- Multi-City AV: add location based filters to the directory
- Stripe: integrate with the Stripe payment gateway
You can view the full list of extensions for Vantage here.
Vantage Pricing Options
There are a number of pricing options for getting access to the themes from AppThemes. Each of their themes, including Vantage can be purchased for $99, or $159 with the Photoshop (.psd) files, or as part of the following packs:
- Single Theme Standard: $99
- Single Theme Developer: $159
- Club Standard: $249
- Club Developer: $349
While these prices are more than you might pay elsewhere for a premium WordPress theme, it’s important to take into account the fact that these are feature-rich app themes which do more than just transform the appearance of your site, and instead add lots of additional features and functionality to it.
The club pricing plans give you access to all their themes, and child themes, as well as over 20 marketplace items. By joining the theme club you can get access to over $1,000 worth of products for a fraction of the price. The above prices include one year of updates and support which can then be renewed for a further year for $29 and $79 respectively.
More information on pricing can be found here.
The Vantage theme certainly has everything you might need to setup a directory site. The separate options for including regular listings and events out of the box is a nice touch. This is a feature that will appeal to those in need of a way to handle events that span multiple dates, each with their own start and end times.
As the theme has recently been updated to make use of recurring payments for charging for listings on your site, all the bases are covered when it comes to monetising your directory. While PayPal is supported out of the box, additional payment gateways can be added to your directory by purchasing the optional addons.
Users have plenty of choices when it comes to browsing the listings, including searching, using the category structure, or clicking on the integrated Google Maps. Being able to filter the results by distance is a nice feature too. The optional plugin which adds the geo-locator feature to the site can also make finding relevant listings easier for those using your directory.
While the design and appearance of Vantage might not be to everyone's tastes, the good news is that there are a number of child themes for Vantage which can be used alongside this theme to totally change how your site looks. One of the newest options is the Directory child theme, which includes a modern design and a responsive layout for visitors on smartphones and tablets, plus lots of other customization options. While there are extra costs involved in using a child theme, considering you are getting access to a tried and tested theme that is under active development, then it is easy to justify the extra expense.
While the Templatic Directory theme offers the strongest competition to Vantage, in terms of design and features, Vantage does have one advantage over its rival. This is its ability to organise listings without tying them to cities. This potentially makes Vantage a better choice for anyone wishing to create a directory that lists businesses on a state, or country-wide basis, rather than by city. However, you will need to weigh up all the features of the other WordPress directory themes out there in order to decide which is the best theme overall for you.
Vantage is a feature-rich theme that should have everything you need to build a directory site. While the design is fully responsive for use on smartphones and tablets, the default appearance isn’t the most modern option out there. When comparing the features of the directory themes for WordPress, it's important to take into consideration the selection of plugins and child themes available for Vantage. These optional extras allow you to expand the functionality of your directory website, and change its appearance, although this will incur additional costs.
Vantage is a strong contender for best WordPress directory theme, with Directory from Templatic being the other high-profile option. However, the exact type of directory you want to build will ultimately decide which theme is best for you, and if Vantage is the best fit, there is every reason to use it.