How to Create a WordPress Database, Directory, or Listing Using Posts Table Pro
WordPress is an excellent platform, but there are some features that are difficult to add to your website. For example, what if you want to create some type of database, or other organized listing of information?
By itself, WordPress doesn’t offer an easy way to do this. Fortunately, you can get the job done quickly by installing a WordPress directory plugin like Posts Table Pro. This simple-to-use but powerful tool lets you create a customized table of information that visitors can search, sort, and filter through to find what they need.
In this post, we’re going to introduce the Posts Table Pro plugin, and talk about all the ways it can be used to add directories and more to your WordPress site. Let’s take a look!
Why you might need a WordPress directory plugin
We love WordPress, and think it’s an excellent way to build almost any type of website. At the same time, no platform is perfect. While you can create many types of content on your WordPress site, one thing it’s never been very good at is tables.
In fact, by default there’s no easy way to add a table to your site. You can create one by hand using HTML, of course, but this requires some know-how and usually results in a very basic table. That’s fine if you just want to display a few pieces of data, but what if you’d like to do more?
For example, what if you need to organize a large amount of information on a single web page, and make it easy for people to sort through? This requires more functionality than a little HTML will provide. You’ll need a dynamic table that both looks attractive and keeps everything clearly organized.
Just a few of the potential applications for this type of table include:
- A directory of staff or employees
- A members directory, for your website or organization
- A listing of businesses (for example, companies operating in a certain area or within a particular niche)
- A database of white papers, scientific papers, or other documents/publications
- A product or parts directory, including information about each item
If you’re looking to add any sort of directory, listing, or database to your WordPress website, you’re going to require a dedicated tool. Fortunately, you can easily achieve this with some high quality plugins.
Posts Table Pro: Your WordPress directory solution
When looking for any new plugin, you’ll want to aim for two basic characteristics. Your chosen solution should be easy to pick up and start using, while also providing all the functionality you’ll need. This means finding a WordPress directory plugin that’s beginner-friendly and feature-rich.
Enter Posts Table Pro:
This versatile plugin can be used in a wide range of ways on your website. However, one of its most effective uses is to create a complex directory in WordPress.
In a nutshell, Posts Table Pro takes the listings that you add to the WordPress admin (e.g. business listings, staff contact details, etc.) and displays them in a table on the front end. It transforms the information into a fully functional directory website.
Of course, that’s just the beginning. You can also:
- Choose exactly what information will be included about each item in the table (including images and other media).
- Link out from each item to another page, post, or other content type.
- Include as few or as many entries in your table as you’d like.
- Enable visitors to quickly find information by searching, sorting, and filtering the table (for example, they could search for an item with a specific keyword, or filter the table to only include entries in a particular category).
All of this results in a listing or database that is dynamic – meant to be used rather than just passively looked at:
Plus, the highly customizable nature of the plugin means it can be adapted to all of the uses we mentioned in the previous section, and more.
To illustrate the types of WP directory you can create, let’s look at some examples of Posts Table Pro in action.
3 case studies using the Posts Table Pro directory plugin
Perhaps the best indicator of Posts Table Pro’s flexibility is how many WordPress sites it’s used on, and for how many different applications. We’re going to introduce you to three such sites, so you can get a better feel for the ways this WordPress directory plugin might be useful to you.
SuperConnection – WordPress member directory
The nice thing about a highly-customizable plugin like Posts Table Pro is that it can be used to create both simple and complex directories. For instance, SuperConnection is a site offering various self-improvement courses, and includes a directory of consultants for its audience’s reference:
This WordPress members directory is kept as simple as can be. It just displays each consultant’s name and location. You can click on each name to visit a more detailed profile and find contact information. (However, you can also include contact details in the table itself.)
RJ Lee Group – WP publications directory
Next up, RJ Lee Group is a forensics laboratory and scientific consulting firm in the U.S. As part of their work, they often publish papers and make presentations. To make all of those publications available to their website’s visitors, the firm created a document database:
In this WordPress document directory, you can see the name of each paper, its full citation, and the date it was published. There’s also a handy search bar, since the table contains a lot of items. Clicking on a paper’s title will take you to a page where you can download a copy.
Wavelength Electronics – WordPress product directory
While both of the previous tables kept things simple, this final example makes use of the full range of Post Table Pro’s feature set:
This product directory listing includes quite a bit of information about each item, including an image and even a technical data sheet with download links. In addition, the filters above the table let you sort the entries based on the specific criteria you’re looking for. All in all, the table makes product comparisons very simple.
How to create a WordPress database, directory, or listing (in 4 steps)
If you want to create a WordPress directory or front end database for your own website, the good news is that it’s an easy task. Of course, how you customize your table will depend on the type of database, directory, or listing you’re building. Still, the process remains the same regardless of the application.
Let’s walk through how to create your own WordPress directory using Posts Table Pro!
Step 1: Install and activate the plugin
Before you can create any kind of dynamic table, you’ll need to purchase the Posts Table Pro WordPress directory plugin.
Once you’ve bought the plugin, you’ll be provided with a zip folder containing all of its contents. In your WordPress site’s dashboard, head to Plugins -> Add New, and click on the Upload Plugin button:
Use Choose File to find and upload your Posts Table Pro folder, then hit Install Now. Once that process is complete, you’ll also need to activate the plugin:
There’s one more step to take before the plugin is fully up and running, however. Under Settings, visit the new Posts Table Pro screen:
In the first field, enter the license key you were given when you purchased the plugin. Hit Enter (or save your changes at the bottom of the page), and you’re ready to get to work.
Step 2: Customize the plugin’s settings
On the same screen where you just activated your license key, you’ll find a lot of additional options. These are settings you can customize to determine what your directory looks like and how it works.
The first setting, Post type, is the most important:
Posts Table Pro works by displaying content from elsewhere on your WordPress site. Each entry in your directory can be created as a post or page, or even as an entirely custom content type.
If you just need to include a few pieces of information, as in the first two cases studies introduced earlier, you may be fine selecting either posts or pages here. (Using posts is usually more convenient than pages – just add each listing as a separate post.) If you want to keep your directory listings separate from your blog posts, however, you may want to create a custom post type. I’ll tell you how to do this in the next section.
Below that, you’ll find the Columns field:
Here you can list out all the columns of information to include in your table. There are a lot to choose from, which you can read more about in the plugin’s documentation. You can use the standard fields that come with WordPress itself, or you can create custom fields or taxonomies to store extra information. I’ll tell you how to do this in a minute.
Make your WordPress directory easy to navigate
Continuing to scroll down, you’ll see plenty of additional options. You can tweak image sizes, set the length for excerpts from post or page content, and determine which information will feature links to other places on your site.
All of the settings here can be useful, depending on the contents and purpose of your directory. No matter what kind of directory you’re building, however, we’d recommend checking out the Search filters option:
This will place dropdown filters above the directory. Visitors can use these to sort the table based on specific categories, tags, or other criteria. This is an excellent way to help people find what they need fast.
When you’re done customizing these settings, save your changes to the page. Don’t worry – you can always come back later and make changes. Even if you’ve already added your directory to the site, any edits to these options will be automatically applied.
Step 3: Create the individual entries for your directory
Next, you’ll need to create an individual piece of content on your site for every entry you want to include in your WordPress database or listings. The way you approach this step can vary, depending on your goals.
As we mentioned earlier, you can simply use regular WordPress posts as your database entries. This approach woks well if you don’t use posts for other types of content (such as a blog). You can use the title and description fields in the WordPress post editor to add the name and bio for each member of your staff, for example.
However, by default posts will only enable you to add a few pieces of information. What if you also want to include each staff member’s phone number, location, and other details? For that, we’d recommend downloading and installing the free Pods plugin:
This is an easy-to-use tool that will let you add custom fields and taxonomies to your posts. That way, you can supplement your database entries with whatever information you need.
Consider creating a directory custom post type
Of course, this method can cause problems if you do use posts to create blog entries, news articles, or any other type of content. You don’t want those posts showing up in your directory, so you’ll need a way to differentiate database entries from everything else on your site.
For that, you can create a custom post type. This is essentially a separate type of post with its own name and section in your dashboard. For example, you might call it ‘Directory’ or ‘Listings’ and put all your directory listings under there. You can customize it however you’d like, and include custom fields as well.
The following tutorial video will walk you through using Pods to create a custom post type, and then add new fields to it:
When you’re done, go back to the Posts Table Pro settings page and select your Directory custom content type. Then, you can go ahead and create an individual custom post for each entry in your directory.
Step 4: Add the directory to your website
Finally, it’s time to display your new directory, listing, or database on your site. This is the easiest step of all.
Open up the page (new or existing) where you’d like to place your directory. The next step depends on whether you’re using the Classic Editor or Gutenberg:
- Classic Editor – Click the ‘Insert Posts Table’ toolbar button. This adds a
[posts_table]shortcode to the page.
- Gutenberg – Add the
[posts_table]shortcode to a ‘Shortcode’ block.
This will add a shortcode to the page. Wherever this shortcode appears, your directory will automatically generate on the front end:
You can add any content you like above and below the table – we’d suggest including a heading at the very least. Then publish the page, and visitors will be able to start using the table!
How can users add their own directory listings?
So far, you’ve learned how to create a WordPress directory where you add all the directory listings.
For example, let’s say you wanted to create a WordPress car sales directory where individual car owners can advertise their vehicles. That’s where Gravity Forms comes in.
Gravity Forms is a WordPress forms plugin that lets you create interactive online forms to collect information from your users. You guessed it, you can even use it to create a ‘Submit a listing’ form for a WordPress directory website.
Use Gravity Forms to create a ‘Submit directory listing’ form which will collect all the information for the listing. You can then add some useful add-ons to add the remaining functionality:
- Use the Gravity Forms + Custom Post Types extension to automatically add your user’s listings to your ‘Directory’ custom post type. If you like, you can hold new listings for moderation before they go live in your WordPress directory.
- Use the take payment via PayPal to take payment online before users can submit their listing.
There are a lot of reasons you may want to add a dynamic table to your WordPress site. You may need to display a members directory, provide a listing of parts or products, or showcase a database of important documents.
For all these tasks and more, Posts Table Pro is the perfect tool. You can use it to add any sort of directory, listing, or database to your site by:
- Installing and activating the plugin
- Customizing the plugin’s settings
- Creating the individual entries for your directory
- Adding the directory to your website
Do you have any questions about how to use this WordPress directory plugin? Ask away in the comments section below!