How to make a directory app


19 Jun 2017



When people think of directories, they picture the Yellow Pages or Yelp. That’s all well and good, but you could also get creative! You don’t have to list local businesses only. For example, you could also display niche markets such as, say, the best pet grooming salons in the country. The important thing is that it's possible to create a small to medium directory with an app maker.

Now one thing to note is that while all solutions let you add points on a map with a small description about what they represent, it’s not quite enough to qualify as a directory app.

Swiftic business location screenshot

An example of how you can place points on a map with Swiftic. Not enough information to be a really useful directory.

So after testing several app makers, we’ve discovered that only three of them are really suited for the job: AppInstitute, AppyPie and Siberian. In the steps below we’ll look at how they let you create listings, categories and what kinds of extra features you get along the way. (Please note that for Siberian, you will need to buy the Craiglist-ads module from their marketplace.)


Adding the directory feature

Both AppyPie and AppInstitute let you play around with templates and your colour scheme before you can start adding a directory module. With AppInstitute, these are called “tabs”, and the one one you’re after is called GeoDirectory.

appinstitute business platform

You’ll notice that AppInstitute automatically adds a few other tabs, namely one called Favourites (to save your preferred listings), and Search (where you can look for listings by name). It’s very handy and it means that your directory app is already pretty robust at this stage. You also get the option to only enable the tab for registered app users:

AppInstitute create a directory app login screenshot

With AppyPie the modules are called “Pages”, and you can add the one called Business Directory. You’ll be presented with the following screen.

appypie directory page

As is often the case with AppyPie, what happens next is a bit confusing because you can’t really do much here. You’ll have to go to your App Dashboard to start adding things such as categories and listings.


Creating categories

With AppInstitute, you can immediately start adding categories, child categories and create your listings within them.

AppInstitute business location screenshot

In theory, you could do the same with AppyPie, but you’ll be presented with 1) a pretty ugly backend, and 2) this kind of frustrating messages unless you are a paying subscriber:

appypie scurbscription needed

Apart from that, it’s more or less the same idea: you can create different sub categories and reorder them as you wish (you can even drag and drop them in your order of preference).


Adding the listings

Both directory app makers work quite similarly here: you can manually add information such as the name of the business, the phone number, summary, website etc…

appypie listings info

However when it comes to adding an address, AppInstitute is missing a simple feature that makes it slightly less intuitive: you don’t get to see where it is on a map.

appinstitute address for listings

What you find instead is that the latitude and longitude coordinates are updated automatically. And you kinda have to trust that it’s working fine until you test the app.

With AppyPie at least, you get a nice autocomplete courtesy of Google, and you can ensure that it’s indeed the right location:

appypie address for listings

Another annoying thing with AppInstitute: you do have to add every single listing manually. There is no way to add listings automatically, while AppyPie offers the option to upload listings via .CSV file.

appypie upload csv directory app

This could save you a lot of time if you have a long list to go through!


Extra listing features

Both app makers have their own unique features for the listings, so it might be worth choosing one or the other based on your kind of directory. For instance, AppInstitute lets you enable things like in-app bookings, reservations and vouchers.

appinstitute listing features

appinstitute booking payment settings create a directory app

As you can imagine, this is very good for local restaurants, hotels shops and bars. And all the listings come with user reviews, which they can submit directly in the app ( you can manage them later).

AppyPie has an interesting idea with the kind of media you can add to each listing. These include images, YouTube videos and even audio streams, which would be perfect for a directory of, say, the best podcasts on a certain topic.

appypie media settings for directory app

And they also have a very good list of display options for your directory, such as reviews, email notifications, etc… Sadly, AppyPie’s features are always based on pre-made templates so you don’t get much customization options.

appypie features checklist for directory app

Letting users submit listings

Both AppInstitute and AppyPie let users submit their own listings. Here again, however, you’ll have to add the listings manually. With AppInstitute, you will get the details via emails. With AppyPie, these come as “Claim Requests”, and you can accept them in your app dashboard. There is a bit of customization choice for the fields offered here…. if you can make heads or tails of the following screen:

appypie directory app fields

It might take a bit of trial and error – but the idea is pretty simple: you can choose what fields to offer users when they submit their own listing.


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, you can see that the directory features of both AppyPie and AppInstitute are certainly enough to get you started. After spending a very short amount of time, you here are screenshots of the test app we made with Appinstitute:

finished appinstitute directory app

One thing to note is that getting started could be rather time consuming, especially if you have to upload all the listings manually. There isn’t a limit on the amount of listings, but if you want to add 100+ of them, make sure that it doesn’t slow down your app too much.

Finally, remember that directories can be for anything and that you can make them more interesting by letting users submit things like personal ads, or even by creating special paid sections of your app for premium users!


Found another solution for creating a directory app? Questions? Feedback? Let us know in the comments below!