Quick Review: Choose the Best Classified Script For Your Needs
It was tough to pick a good PHP classified script for a new project. I used Google; browsed some forums; read reviews on script directories; checked classified software developers' websites (features, demos, forums, etc) & finally could make a list with a few good scripts from which I had to choose the One!
1. Some tips on how to search & choose
I guess Google is often the 1st spot to start from, looking for reviews, comparisons, testimonials etc, then there are webmaster forums, the most known & with biggest database & community is obviously Forums.DigitalPoint.com , start by making a search then you could ask questions in existing threads or open your own. Once you find some scripts you can start investigate them further on Google & on forums. Make sure you are getting recent information. Checkout the features in the scripts websites too, tryout admin / user demos & visit their support forums if there are any.
One source I didn't find very useful is "script directories" like HotScripts.com, you can find there all sorts of scripts, paid or free, ratings from users & reviews. But it seemed to me that some softwares were over rated & many reviews looked fake, either made by script owners themselves (VPR: Very Positive Reviews) or by competitors (VNR: Very Negative Reviews).
2. The outcome of my quest
As I said above I managed to come up with a small list of acceptable scripts, mostly they are paid scripts. Unlike for blogging & forumming, the open source doesn't seem to have a good place in the classified field. Here are my picked scripts & quick comment with everyone:
I didn't investigate this one much, I know I didn't like how it renders SEO friendly URLs & how the support forum looks, even if it seems rather active with frequent apparitions from the staff.
It seems to be one of the oldest, the features are good, especially its integration with many forums softwares (vBulettin, phpBB, SMF, InvisionBoard & others), the possibility to use the users database from vBulettin, phpBB 2.0 & UBB & many features related to pictures management (I guess that's why it's named "PhotoPost"). The price also is good.
I couldn't check if it can support SEO friendly URLs & Captcha, they are not in the features listed & their forum is rather closed, anonymous users can't make searches & I'm a lazy guy who didn't bother to register. Also the administration demo's link led to a 404 page.
Seems to have most of the features you'd need, but the buying options are sophisticated (price range from $199 to $999) & key forums are private. I'm not a buyer for these two reasons.
I liked this one & it's price is one of the lowest, it's the only one that allows anonymous users to post ads. But it has bad support. One old customer was saying on the forum that the developer sometimes makes weeks to show up to send you the script you bought long before!
I talked about free WordPress solutions below but this is a paid one. It's a WP theme optimized for classifieds plus some other modifications using plugins. It doesn't look like a classic classified site but it may fit your needs. Here too you can allow guests to post ads with no need to register.
Good list of features & a new e-Commerce version to allow you to sell ads, but still it seems incomplete compared to features offered by Geodesic or 68 which we will see below. It also can share users with Joomla. The administration demo looked complicated to me, I guess it needs some time to get used to. Their forum is organized in a weird manner, sections names look more like nooby thread titles, seems the guy who made them had a lot of fun..
The good news is that there's a free version of this one
I guess this is my favorite, complete list of features & additional mods for additional features (like SEO friendly URLs), even if they are rather expensive. You can choose from 3 plans to buy, the cheapest is a hosted solution for which you get free updates for life & pay a monthly fee for the hosting. I tested the admin demo & it's very user friendly. Even if not listed in the features page, it allows you to clone categories so that you don't have to start everytime from scratch. The forum is the best compared to all others, there's a pre-sale folder where you can ask without the need to register & replies come very fast from the guys in charge of moderation & support.
Other (Free) Options
Except the free version of Noah's, all the options above are paid ones, here are three free scripts you may like:
e-Classifieds Free Edition, they have also many paid options, one is over $2000! They say the United Nations has chosen their script, but I don't care, they don't even have a forum & they are boring The free one is only for "non-profit organizations".
World Wide Classifieds, the developer said he has no time to take care of so he made it open source, but the development community doesn't seem to be really active "yet". This is a script to watch, hopefully it becomes big like Joomla or WordPress.
Talking about WordPress, what if the best free solution was a WordPress plugin? Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin seems to have very useful features & the developer is active supporting it. WordPress is an amazing & super user friendly open source CMS used mainly as a blogging platform but there are plugins to make it do almost anything you want it to do for you.