A directory website is a website that hosts a directory – or list – of things within a category. For example, a university staff directory, a list of area merchants, or a virtual catalog of a brand’s products.
These are the common elements of a directory website:
- A full article/contact page with some organization
- Sorting and Filtering Ability: Users can filter listings by alphabetical order, cost, location, or other factors related to their niche.
- Tiered access based on cost
- Information about the activity or objective of the directory
- A contact method in case of an error
Directory websites have multiple uses so that each one will look different. For example, they are often used to locate professionals, such as lawyers, landscapers, cash for gold vendors, or accountants, in a specific geographic area.
Some organizations have their directories. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) allows users to search for a qualified accountant through its directory of registered professionals.
Design an effective directory website.
Website design not only applies to the visual elements of the site but to all elements of the website that will affect user experience (UX) and usability. When designing for web directories, it’s important to keep three key issues in mind:
- Who will use it: your audience
- How many people will use it – traffic levels
- What it will be used for – its purpose
These factors will influence how effective the design is for your audience. A poorly executed directory website can lead to public frustration, so it’s important to research and get it right.
In a nutshell, what does your directory website offer? There are online directories for almost every major profession and hundreds more on specific topics created by industry professionals.
That’s why it’s important to ensure your content is solid and unique by conducting extensive and ongoing research.
Directory websites should capture top-level and sub-level categories that apply to the categories into which their directory entries are classified.
This is the organizational system upon which you will build your site. Your categories should be designed to avoid overlaps and subsequent confusion. In addition, they must cover everything in the directory without leaving atypical elements and using terms your audience understands and uses in their vocabulary.
Loading and search speed are the basis of everything. While this is true for all websites and search engines, a directory website is generally used for the sole purpose of searching for information.
Think, for example, about the last time you used Facebook. You may have reached out to an old friend or a company. When searching directories like this, users expect results to be instantaneous.
Consumers expect to be able to find the information they want when they want it. This means they want to access it quickly and easily. Your directory should include filtering features with common subsections in your niche.
For example, a product directory for commercial kitchens should include filters for:
- Location – if necessary, in a physical warehouse
Filters should be relevant to your directory topic and indicate what information they will display. You should avoid adding too many filtering options and ensure that only applicable entries are displayed when filters are applied.
The goal of your directory is to generate traffic and establish authority in your field, as well as being a useful tool. To do this, you must ensure that your listings link to other sources and capture keywords, meaning they have high-quality search engine optimization (SEO).