If you are thinking about starting your own directory website but haven’t chosen a suitable plugin yet, you can check our list of the best WordPress directory plugins. It includes all the best options on the market, so you should find one that meets your needs.

However, what if you don’t know how to choose a WordPress directory plugin properly? What features should you look for, and how should you test everything? Answers to all these questions you’ll find in this article.

Let’s get started!

What Directory Plugins Are Used For

Simply saying, you’ll need a directory plugin every time you want to create a directory website or any other listing website like job boards, classified ads websites, etc. Basically, listings on such websites can represent various entities, including businesses, individuals, events, and locations.

The core functionalities typically offered by directory plugins include:

  • Data Organization – you can create listing categories and tag listings for easier user navigation;
  • Search Capability  – create your own listing search filters so users can search listings by different criteria, such as keywords or location;
  • Listing Submission – enable users to submit their listings from the front end of your site;
  • Custom Fields  – create specific fields relevant to the listings. It allows you to tailor your directory website to any niche.

Here are some other examples of websites that you can build with a directory plugin.

  • Business Directory – organize businesses into categories and provide contact details;
  • Real Estate Directory – showcase property details with images, prices, and amenities;
  • Event Directory – list events with information like dates, locations, and tickets;
  • Local Sports Directory – showcase all the sports activities in your region;
  • Staff Directory Website – create a website that shows all your staff members and their contact details;
  • Lawyer Directory – create a website where all the best lawyers are present and can be filtered depending on their experience and expertise.

These are just a few examples of websites that you can build using a proper directory plugin. However, everything depends on the plugin you choose and its features. So, let’s jump in and find out how to choose a WordPress directory plugin.

Evaluating Plugin Performance

When choosing a WordPress directory plugin, it’s important to understand how it will impact your site’s performance.  You should look for a plugin that has a clear code and won’t cause any slowdowns or conflicts on your website.

If you don’t have tech knowledge, it may be challenging for you to assess the plugin’s code and so on, so you can simply examine the plugin’s landing page on WordPress.org and check its compatibility, updates, reviews & support.

Compatibility with Themes and Plugins

Make sure that the plugin you select works seamlessly with your current theme and other plugins. You can check the plugin’s description or, if necessary, contact its developers to clarify whether it’s compatible with your theme or other plugins on your website.

Incompatibilities can cause issues that range from styling problems to critical site errors. Before installation, review the plugin’s documentation for any known conflicts and test it in a staging environment if possible.

Reviews, Regular Updates &  Support

Here are the next important things you should check:

  • Reviews
  • Updates
  • Support

Firstly, check out the reviews left by other users. In most cases, it’s one of the best ways to evaluate the plugin’s quality. Just spend 5 minutes reading comments, and you can save tons of money and time on fixing potential bugs of a low-quality plugin in the future.

HivePress reviews that help to choose a WordPress directory plugin.
Reviews for the HivePress plugin.

Choose a plugin with a strong track record of regular updates. Frequent updates typically mean better security, improved features, and ongoing optimization (check our guide on how to secure a WordPress directory website). Also, it shows that the plugin is in the active development stage, and you can rest assured that there’s some team behind it that is improving it.

The easiest way to check how often the plugin is updated is to check the Development > Changelog section on the plugin’s landing page in WordPress repository. 

HivePress changelog.
HivePress changelog.

Finally, you should check out the support policy and a knowledge base. A reliable plugin should have a dedicated support team that can help you fix any potential issues or bugs as well as guide you through the setup process. So, simply take a look at the support policy of your future directory plugin.

User Experience and Customization

Now, let’s talk a little bit about customization capabilities, extensibility and, of course, ease of use. All these components are really important if you want to create a robust directory website for any niche.

Ease of Use

What do we mean by ease of use? Basically, you should be able to understand how to set up the plugin without any special knowledge and skills. Everything should be intuitive and, if necessary, should have hints and clear descriptions of different features. So when testing a plugin, check whether it has:

  • Intuitive back-end interface;
  • Hints over different features;
  • Clear descriptions of features.

Also, check the front end as well (helpful advice, isn’t it?:). But seriously, everything should look intuitive and without any redundant design elements or menus. Among other things, check:

  • Vendor dashboards;
  • The whole listing submission process;
  • The registration process.

Customization Options

Choosing a highly customizable directory plugin that allows you to set everything up in the way you need is crucial. You should definitely check whether your plugin offers:

  • Unlimited Listing Categories – some plugins limit the number of listing categories you can add. Avoid such tools.
  • Custom Listing Fields & Search Filters – you should be able to add your own fields and create filters that are specific to your niche.
  • Vendor Profile Fields & Search Filters – check whether you can customize the vendor profile fields by adding your own, not only default.

We mentioned a few of the most important ones, but, of course, you should also find out what other customization options your plugin offers. Keep in mind that the fewer hardcoded parts it has – the better.


Often, when building a website, it’s difficult to predict all the features you may need to have. That’s why choosing a directory plugin that offers different add-ons is crucial. These extensions may allow you to:

  • Add new features;
  • Customize your website even more;
  • Optimize your directory website.

We recommend visiting the official websites of the plugins you are interested in and checking whether developers offer free or premium add-ons.

Documentation and Tutorials

Next, it’s necessary to check whether the plugin’s developers offer comprehensive documentation with clear explanations on how to set everything up. Additionally, it will be much easier for you if devs also provide you with different step-by-step tutorials (articles or videos), so you can simply open a tutorial and follow all the steps. Just read the guide, follow the steps and get the same result.

HivePress knowledge base.
HivePress knowledge base.

Monetization Functionality

Finally, when starting a website, you should think about monetization in advance to choose a directory plugin that supports the necessary monetization models. Here are some of the most popular business models for directory websites:

  • Paid Listings – ensure the plugin supports charging for listing submissions. It’s probably the most popular monetization model for directory websites;
  • Featured Listings – users should be able to pay additional fees if they want to make their listings featured (for better visibility);
  • Claim Listings – choose a plugin that has the claim listing feature, where businesses can pay to claim and manage their listing (it’s optional and works only for particular niches);
  • Memberships – for some niches, it’s necessary to charge users for viewing certain content, so make sure your plugin allows you to sell membership plans (check our guide on creating a members-only website).

Also, you should check what payment gateways your directory plugin supports. Usually, most plugins have integration with WooCommerce, which offers dozens of payment gateways around the world.

Final Words

So, we hope this article will help you to choose a WordPress directory plugin that suits your needs and requirements. If you still haven’t chosen a plugin for your project, you can check HivePress. It’s an all-in-one directory plugin that allows you to create listing websites of any type without any coding skills, so you can simply plug and play.

Also, if you haven’t chosen a directory WordPress theme for your website yet, you can check our articles on:

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