If you’re planning to create an online business directory in WordPress, you have to know about the new word warrior in town.
WordPress Directory Ninja launched at the end of 2014 and I believe I was among the first to use it. Funny thing was, I sort of stumbled upon it.
How I met my theme developer
Having written a very popular post, 8 Best Tools to Build a WordPress Directory, I searched that post for recommendations made by WordPress Meetup presenter Jeff Rose.
First, I installed tested the free plugin, Business Directory, which worked nicely but had one huge downside in the permalink.
The plugin added a random number to each listing that appeared between “directory” and “name,” which I hated. That developer told me there was no way to make that number disappear, so I deleted the plugin.
My next choice was WP Directory Plugin for $37. Before paying for it, I wrote to the developer, Craig Lingard, to ask if his plugin placed numbers in the permalink.
Craig’s response to me was, in effect, ‘stop the presses, I have a new system almost ready to launch and no, it does not place numbers in your permalink.’
I said, ok, I’ll wait.
In November, WP Directory Ninja was launched and Craig kindly helped set it up for me as a child theme for Canvas.
With WP Directory Ninja, I got much more than I expected. Here’s how Craig describes it:
“WP Directory Ninja is not a theme, nor is it a plugin. It is a “Ready to Deploy” Directory website that uses a Theme, a Child Theme and several plugins that work together to provide the most versatile and flexible WordPress directory system on the market.”
What I found was that WP Directory Ninja is a wonderfully extensive and customizable system that includes clones for specific industry niches.
For a fitness directory, for example, gym owners can add charts, timetables or costs. It uses conditional logic to do that without affecting other industry types in the business directory.
WP Directory Ninja has clones geared towards Travel, Food & Restaurants, Autos, and Health & Fitness, with more being developed.
What I wanted was a business directory to allow our writer members to be found by editors and publishers, and I was able to customize this system according to our modest expectations.
But WP Directory Ninja has so much more.
WP Directory Ninja features
The system includes plugins from Formidable for forms, AdRotate for ads, Directory Search Map and Flexible Map for maps, Go Pricing for rates and table, Li’l Gallery for photos, and WP Customer Reviews for testimonials, among others.
Here are the features you’ll find in WP Directory Ninja:
- Interactive map to search by name, town, industry
- Map includes clickable listing pins and directions links
- Front page slider
- Banner and sidebar ads
- 2 Front page sidebars
- Premium, Feature and Basic listings distinguished by colours and ribbons.
- Fully detailed listing pages based on payment level that includes recurring payments
- Rotating ad widgets
- Customizable pricing tables
- Fields to upload food menus, schedules, opening times, coupon offers
- Premium listings include: social icons, description, photo gallery, email button, contact details, interactive map, contact form, Vimeo and YouTube videos, customer reviews, plus subscription opt-ins and related posts.
The installation of WP Directory Ninja involves more than uploading a new theme or plugin through your WordPress dashboard.
Its process of creating a database and using the Duplicator might require a professional. Otherwise, a sophisticated user can follow the instructions in this tutorial video:
Customizing for BCATW
Without touching code, there are lots of options for customizing WP Directory Ninja, which comes with fully-formed demo content.
Since we are promoting our members equally, I deactivated the home page slider and disabled the listing levels, making the premium level free. So when a member clicks Submit Your Listing they are directed to the full listing with all the features.
Customizing the submission form happens on two pages:
My WP Directory>Forms>Directory Submission Form
This is where you can drag and drop the fields and enter the settings for each.
On this page, I entered extensive checkboxes for categories called “Genres.” I deleted fields related to restaurants, and I added three fields to add unique links to the writer’s published stories. And, I added eight photo upload fields.
WP Directory>Views>Single Post
This is where you finesse the customized fields into an interesting view. I’m only using the Dynamic Content box where the default fields were already laid out.
I moved them all around by cutting and pasting, deleted undesired shortcodes, and added my new fields by clicking Insert Fields under Customization. All the text can be formatted like any other post.
Each listing becomes a custom post. When our writers submit their listing, I receive an email informing me of their submission. At that point, I go to the post to Publish the listing for all the world to see. If they wanted, the writers could go to their post page and edit it further.
Having customized the dashboard pages, our members get a nice, clean front-end form to complete. They don’t need to ever see the dashboard, but they could if they wanted to.
Other features I like
WP Directory Ninja has made it easy for editors to find our writers in several places: via genre categories in the navigation menu; via name, town, and industry above the map; by clicking on the map itself; and with the Categories list in the sidebar.
The interactive map is easy to set for Longitude and Latitude, and to zoom out on the province where all our members live.
Eleven widget areas come with ad demos installed. Since we don’t have immediate plans for advertisers, I replaced the four footer ads with plain images.
The background image and logo was easy to load through our Canvas Theme Options. The banner ad in the header is loaded as a widget.
The payments settings are easily found at My WP Directory>Global Settings>Payments and it’s all set up for PayPal.
WP Directory Ninja is fully responsive and on a phone it presents our writers right up front, sans map.
Business directory results
The travel writers are slowly submitting their listings, but the ones who have had this to say:
“It was easy to navigate through on the initial setup.” – Deb Walker
“I’m not terrifically techie, but I didn’t find it difficult really and once you got the knack it was fairly easy.” – Ruth Kozak
“No problem doing it on my own.” – Julie Furgusen
“It was easy and fast, thanks!” – Kerri-Jo Stewart
For the BCATW, WP Directory Ninja has everything we need, and then some.
It’s easy to see how a profit-driven directory business could successfully exploit the functional opportunities offered by WP Directory Ninja. True to it’s name, WP Directory Ninja has real ultimate power.