My dad is not the most knowledgeable when it comes to computers. So when he wanted to start an online business he told me to start a directory for him and to get the basics up and running. As much as I like to say I’m great with computers, coding is still not a strong skill of mine so I went to Google and looked for a theme that would allow me to start a directory without having to worry about all the coding and databases. I came across this one theme that seemed to be great, it had great reviews and I was satisfied with it from the demo. We ended up buying it from ThemeForest. A few months down the line, we requested a refund as the support was horrible and the theme did nothing that we wanted our site to do. Another search, this time a proper one, and I came across SpotGuide, created by CodeVisionThemes. I instantly fell in love with its appearance and a couple of hours of proper experience of it through the demo and I knew that it was exactly what we wanted.
The theme has been developed very well in my opinion. There are a few issues that I’ve come across which I will highlight later on but apart from those it has been an excellent directory theme to start my dad’s business with.
Like most WordPress themes, the settings for the theme are all located in the Customizer section of the admin control panel. It allows you to do various things from choosing the main colour (from some out of the box choices or a custom one) to choosing what types of listings your users can add to the directory. This theme lets you customise every aspect of it and allows you to make it as unique as you want it to be. Of course no matter what colour schemes you use and no matter how your actual pages are laid out, your website will always be the exact same in terms of style to other directories that are using this theme. That is the one biggest issue with buying premium themes. From the statistics on the developers account, I would presume that there are around 200 other directories with the same style as ours.
The biggest benefit of SpotGuide is that it’s ready to be deployed out of the box. All you have to do is upload the theme to your WordPress installation, import the demo content and edit it to suit your business and you’re done. That is all that needs to be done in addition to adding your PayPal information to the system so that the payments are sent to you.
The thing I love about this particular theme is how well everything looks. With most websites going with flat/material looks nowadays, it is great to see that the theme has got some material design inspiration. The one thing that does bug me is how light the theme is (visually). Browsing through the different pages, sometimes content can be difficult to see and the actual pages seem to be way too bright. That may just be me though, I’ve always preferred dark themes and styles.
The front-end submission system for users is extremely easy to use and has been designed well. It has been split into eight different parts including banner, video, social etc. Unlike other themes that I have seen on ThemeForest, SpotGuide has the option of allowing users to see how many views a certain listing has. This is a massive feature that other directory themes simply do not have and it’s weird because it’s a vital function if you think about it. Is it not important that directory sites are able to offer their users statistics on how much exposure their directory listing is getting? Another feature that I found was lacking in other directory themes was blocking certain parts of the submission system to non-paying users. And guess what? SpotGuide has that. SpotGuide allows you to setup the directory so that non-paying users cannot add their contact details, opening hours etc.
Unfortunately, certain big plugins have not been made compatible with this theme. One example is bbPress. Installing and activating bbPress is fine but there are some asthetic issues and errors which can make the site look a bit unprofessional. When I reported this to the developer they were not much help and I ended up having to go over the WordPress Plugins directory to find an alternative to bbPress which thankfully I did in the end. Another issue I had with SpotGuide was the occassional errors caused by, according to the developer, by server. When I attempted to add a listing through the front-end, it would just re-direct me back to the first page where I would choose the type of listing I wanted. It was forever stuck in a loop. And once again the developers did not bother trying to look into the issue but rather went ahead and blamed by servers not being good enough. I am yet to change hosts to find out what the cause of the issue is but hopefully they are correct and it is my servers that are the issue.
SpotGuide is not the solution if you’re looking to start a directory that you expect to get millions of users. Even though the developers of the theme are always looking at improving the theme and bringing in new features, it may never be exactly what you want. If you’re looking at starting a directory as a serious business venture then you would definitely be better off custom coding a directory or hiring a developer to create one for you. Although, if you’re just looking at starting a small project/business then SpotGuide may just be perfect for you. SpotGuide has to be the number one theme for anyone looking to start a small directory. The theme has been developed with care and every aspect is of the highest quality. And that is why it has an average rating of 4.71 out of 5 stars on ThemeForest.