WordPress Business Directory Themes
Geo Places vs GeoTheme vs Vantage vs… you get the idea
There are a handful of location based city guide themes available for WordPress these days. Here they are with brief descriptions. Having actually purchased all of these themes, I can honestly say there are only three options that I can recommend to you. So with that, here is the most comprehensive comparison of the top wordpress business directory themes to showcase local businesses.
This is a Theme For…
Geo location themes are great for so many reasons! There is a near-endless amount of local niches just waiting for someone like you to create a local directory for it. Three of these themes have both payment options and the ability for users to contribute by creating their own listings. The possibilities are nearly endless here… really.
Geo Places by Templatic
$Too Much to Spend – Top Features
- I’m not going to bother going through the features of this one because I don’t want you to experience the same terrible experience I had with Templatic. Trust me on this one…
- Feature 1: It’s probably broken anyway
- Feature 2: Just don’t bother with this one
- Feature 3: This used to be the only option, but it’s not anymore. Read on!
Don’t buy this theme. Well, you can if you want to, but I wouldn’t. Actually, I DID buy it, and it was… let’s just say it wasn’t a pleasant experience. It was full of bugs, the support took a pretty long time to respond to the bugs (they responded fairly quickly but not on topic), and overall the experience has led me to never want to purchase or encourage anyone to EVER purchase anything from Templatic EVER. I’m not even going to bother doing a full Geo Places review or going through the features of this terrible theme because I’d rather you didn’t use it, for your own sake, which is also why there’s no link to it. Moving on…
$85/yr. – Top Features
- Based off Templatic’s Geo Places… only without bugs and with customer support that actually fixes bugs in a timely manner!
- Several Payment Gateways Built In
- Child Theme Ready
- Multi-City Capabilities w/ Neighborhoods
- Custom Post Types for both Business Listings and Events
- Ajax Ratings / Review System
- Widget Ready Including In-content Ads
- API With Phone Apps on the Way (apps not included with theme!)
- Allows Filtering of Businesses after Search
- And many more features you can see here
Fortunately for the world, there was life after Templatic. One of the guys in the forum said he’d fix the bugs and add some new features, and thus GeoTheme was born. Overall, I have been very pleased with this theme. The up and coming version, v3, which is set to launch this week or next, has several new features that significantly increase the value and usability of this theme. The inclusion of geolocation auto-detection, the ability to break down cities into neighborhoods (somewhat similar to Yelp), built-in social connectivity, category specific sorting options (hugely important in my opinion!), and a payment/transaction dashboard put this theme at the top of this list of local directory themes for WordPress. The greatest annoyance with this theme is that some of their features are not directly added to the theme itself but are instead sold as add-ons for the theme through the parent company ThemeTailors.com. Outside of that, there are several settings that are not intuitively placed though there is a tutorial video and forthcoming documentation. It’s just a bit complicated, but once you figure it out, it works like a champ. In a forthcoming Geotheme review that I have planned, I’ll explain some of the features more in depth.
$70 – Top Features
- Beautiful Design
- Google Map
- Ad ready
- Traditional WooThemes support and updates
This theme is just what it says, a wordpress city guide theme. Overall, City Guide is a beautifully designed theme, as are many other themes by WooThemes. If you are looking to put together your own personal guide to your city or talk about and display your favorite spots in town, this theme should do the job. It’d also be good for a company that already does a lot of local advertising and wants to add a light-weight Local-based website to their arsenal. That being said, City Guide is the “lite” version when compared to GeoTheme or Vantage. It lacks any type of built in payment gateways, the ability for users to create listings, and a rating system for listings. This is the perfect theme for anyone wanting a simple, clean, easy to use solution without payments or user input (other than reviews).
$99 – Top Features
- Superior Design
- Rating Review System
- Featured Listings on Home Page and in Categories
- Users can Add Listings
- User Managed Listings and Review Display
- Traditional Excellence of AppThemes Support
- Build Your Own Custom Forms for Business Listings
- Ad Ready
- Allows Filtering of Businesses after Search
Vantage is the newest addition to the Geo-location wordpress themes. And it comes out firing! It has a most stellar out-of-the-box design, the ability for users to create and easily manage their listings, and AppThemes support and documentation. While it lacks many of the features of GeoTheme, it has more than City Guide. It comes with a built-in PayPal payment gateway which makes it easier to sell listings for your site. It, like GeoTheme, also has a rating system built into the commenting system, the ability to feature listings, and widget areas for ads.
While not as comprehensive as GeoTheme, Vantage is the perfect theme for focusing on one single niche within a city such as hotels, or restaurants, or automotive repair places. Alternatively, it would also work great with a narrower niche on a country-wide or regional scale such as Italian restaurants in the US or paintball fields in the Midwest. In my opinion, this single niche approach is where Vantage has the potential to be particularly effective.
Conclusion – Which one is the Best?!?
The new version of GeoTheme with its superior features is definitely the most robust theme with the most options and functionality built in out of the box. If you are looking to be the next Yelp, there is no other choice! Vantage finishes as a very strong second, mostly because it isn’t really trying to be a full-blown city guide theme. Again, it is a more focused theme suited for single niche directory of local businesses. Use it if you are focusing on just one niche of local businesses rather than all of them.
So there you have it! A comparison of these wordpress business directory themes available for WP. Good luck with your project!
Here are the three themes if you want to check ’em out yourself. I’d love to get your feedback on this post. Was it helpful? Are there things in the comparison I missed that you’d like to see?
When I first started researching geothemes, the duel was Geo Theme vs Geo Places since CityGuide didn’t have nearly the functionality (and still doesn’t). By the time I had finished my research, Vantage has popped up on the market as the only serious contender to GeoTheme. (I don’t really include DirectoryPress here because it isn’t strictly a business directory theme.) However, since that time a few other companies have released this type of theme and enough people have asked about DirectoryPress to make it worth including in this review. Below are my thoughts and comments on the rest of these themes. (Updated July 5, 2013)
I have had several people ask me what I thought of DirectoryPress by PremiumPress. Well I finally purchased a copy of it to try out. You can read the full review here. But to sum it up in relation to this post in particular: DirectoryPress is a VERY powerful theme with lots of amazing features that were well ahead of its time. It is one of the top web directory themes available for WP still. However, it’s not specifically geared for local business directories the way that the themes mentioned in this post are. It has many uses, but a local business directory isn’t really one of the better ones.
A few people have also asked about the local directory theme available on the Warrior Forum. It’s claim to fame is that it has microdata that will help with getting specialized listings in Google. While I haven’t actually looked at the theme, by initial concern is that the image I saw looked like the designer literally took the top half of Vantage and the bottom half of GeoTheme and just stuck them together. As good as the microdata / schema.org stuff might be, seeing that image really turned me off. If someone would like to donate a copy for review, I’ll think about including it, but I have no intentions to buy it, and at this point I’d say “stay away.”
Also, as expected, AppThemes has pushed Vantage ahead at an incredibly rapid pace that has been amplified all the more by their own marketplace that rivals Theme Tailors Marketplace. Here are a few things that are new since this post:
- AppThemes has released a marketplace that now holds several child themes for Vantage as well as some nice new features
- The ability to claim a listing has been added
- Theme listings can now include driving directions
- The ability to have various pricing plans was also added
GeoTheme, while not moving as fast as Vantage has officially released their iPhone App AND made their theme responsive so that the theme itself will scale to fit any size screen on any device.
ElegantThemes has also released a business directory theme for wordpress called Explorable. You can read our review of Explorable here. I should also mention that InkThemes and SiteMile have also released Local Directory Themes since this post was originally written that you may want to check out as well. Reviews of these themes are planned as is a complete re-writing of this post in light of all of the new themes.