This post provides guidance on what to consider when selecting directory software and lists some of the top options both in the UK and elsewhere.
Three types of member directory
At its simplest, a directory may be a shortlist of your current members. For small membership organisations, this can usually be managed manually. Large directory websites have thousands of entries and each entry can include promotions, product listings, events and other unique features.
Before exploring specific options for directory software it is therefore important to consider which type of directory you need. In this post we have separated our software suggestions into three categories:
1. Directory is one part of a wider membership website
You are likely a membership organisation that offers a bundle of benefits to your members. They may get access to premium content, an online forum or special events. The directory is likely an important component of your membership offering so you need a comprehensive range of directory management tools but the software must also deal with the broader requirements of a membership organisation at the same time.
2. Directory is the main focus of your organisation
Your focus will be primarily on the online directory. You likely have some subscription or fee model to fund the organisation but it is likely that people subscribe primarily for a directory listing. In this case you are likely to need more powerful directory tools and will be best served by software that is primarily focused on directories rather than this being one component of a broader offering.
3. You have unusual custom requirements.
Your organisation doesn’t fit the mould. In this case, off-the-shelf software can be frustrating and you will be better off piecing together your own solution using open source components with the help of a professional developer.
Features to look out for in directory software
✔ Keyword search
✔ Multiple directories
✔ Subscription management
✔ Responsive design
✔ A dedicated full-profile view
✔ Ability for members to update their listing themselves
✔ Listing add-ons like promotions, products, events
Top member directory software options
Here are our recommendations for the best directory software options for the different purposes mentioned above.
Directory software for membership organisations
Here we list some of the general membership management software that have really strong directory components.
Starting at £30+VAT per month, White Fuse is easy-to-use membership software that includes a powerful directory building tool. As an all-in-one tool, it ensures all data is stored in a single central contact database and provides online tools for members to manage their own directory listings.
Starting at $49 per month, Raklet is another well-equipped tool for building all aspects of a membership website including directories. In addition to basic out-of-the-box layouts, if you have a development budget they also have a team of engineers who can do layout and other customisations to match your needs.
Starting at $40 per month, Wild Apricot is a well-established option with lots of flexibility but a slightly ageing interface and range of website templates. However, it includes a reasonably comprehensive set of tools for building directory websites.
Directory software for directory businesses
Here we list software that is primarily focused on building complex and advanced directory websites.
Starting at $99 per month, eDirectory has a very comprehensive set of features and is one of the leading options if the priority for your business is building a directory website. As you’d expect for this audience, the focus is on powerful interface features for the website itself like allowing listings to include videos and running classified advertisements alongside normal directory listings.
Starting at $145 per month Brilliant Directories is another very powerful option. It includes powerful tools for directory listings to add loads of different kinds of information to their listings and to present these in a manner that is easy to browse.
Starting at $150 per month plus a one-off setup fee, 360Directories offers software that seems primarily aimed at local listing directories, i.e. offering a range of services relevant to a specific local geographical area.
Custom directory website tools using WordPress
Another option to consider if you need something very specific or have easy and affordable access to website developers is to build a directory website yourself using WordPress and the wide range of plugins and directory tools and themes available. Here we list a few notable options to explore.