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Many businesses went online in 2020 and the trend continues. Today, clients expect websites to give complete information about what the business offers. For this, you often need to add a “directory” or “listing” (same thing, different word) to your sites. In this tutorial, we teach what multilingual directories need and how to build them.

What are Directories

A directory is anything that lists many items. It can be a complete site like Craigslist, a table of the products that you offer, a map of your service points and many other things.

In some directories, the admin will populate all content into WordPress. In other directories, visitors (or members) will create entries and in other directories, you’ll import content from an external site.

Site listing animal nutrition products
Details for a single travel tour
Directory site with offers and discounts
Details for a single real estate listing

What Makes a Directory

Directory and listing sites have a mixture of features. Some directories will have all these features, but most directories will have a subset of them.

List of directory items
Search for items
Lists of featured items
Templates for displaying individual items
Using a front-end form to edit an item
Account page where members can edit items

The directory can be the whole site or only a section in a site.

What’s Unique About Multilingual Directories

When you’re creating a multilingual directory, you need to think about how to create and display content in different languages. There’s no “one size fits all”. Instead, it depends on the business and its objectives.

You could:

  • Accept listings only in the site’s default language and show them untranslated in all languages
  • Accept listings only in the site’s default language and translate them to different languages
  • Accept listings in any language and show them in that language only
  • Accept listings in any language and translate them to the rest of the site’s languages

And, of course, you may need multilingual forms for submitting entries, multilingual account pages, and so on.

How to Build Multilingual Directory Sites

After a lot of research, WPML team has put together a short list of plugins that will allow you to build multilingual directories. The directory themes that we reviewed (true for January 2021) did not work fully in multilingual sites.

So, your best option is to pick a “general purpose” theme and add the directory functionality using a plugin.

The plugin options that we recommend are either the Business Directory plugin or Toolset. These two options are very different and each has its cons and pros (fits a different audience, with different needs).

The Business Directory plugin offers a “black box” that implements the complete directory functionality for you. You’ll need to install and configure it and you get a working directory. The folks from the Business Directory plugin have created a mini-guide on how to translate everything coming from their plugin.

Toolset takes a different approach. Instead of a complete solution, you get building blocks, which you can put together any way you want. This means more to learn the first time, but more flexibility and control over the final result. Toolset offers a complete course on building directory sites, including an entire chapter on translating directory sites.

Business Directory Plugin

Toolset’s Course on Directory Sites

Post Relationship in Multilingual Directory Sites

Almost every directory site will use post relationship. For example, a car dealership will connect between « cars » and « makers ». A real estate site will connect between « properties » and « agents ». An events website will connect between « events », « venues » and « speakers ».

As of version 1.3, Toolset has full support for multilingual post relationships. This means that you can create and connect content in any language, without always going through the site’s default language.

Thinking About How to Build Your Own Directory?

Rich directory sites are complex projects. We’ll be happy to help with tips and ideas from our experience. Leave your comments and we’ll get back to you.