I was asked to review the Findoha directory, which is an online directory and contractor leads listing US and Canadian contractors (like plumbers, painters, etc.). My first thought was, "What can one say about a directory?" But once I started browsing the site, I realized that there was actually quite a bit that I could say.
The design itself is quite nice. Look at how much information they managed to fit onto the home page, without having it look jumbled and messy. That's a difficult thing to achieve, and very few people manage that so smoothly. Most directories of that size are crammed together in a way that would discourage the end user from actually browsing it. I would think this one is more likely to generate actual traffic, once it gets popular, because it is easy on the eyes.
Once I got past the nice design, which has a 2.0 feel to it, I decided to focus on the content and what the site had to offer. Although it could use more listings, the concept is right in line with how a good niche directory of companies should work. But what I'd like to see is this site moving forward a little and utilizing some Web 2.0 techniques a little more.
More user interaction would make this kind of niche directory stand out in a crowd. Allowing users to rate or comment upon listings would turn a good niche directory into a a very useful social directory. I realize that a lot of companies would be hesitant to list themselves in a directory in which negative comments or negative ratings could be applied against them. But companies eventually will have no choice but to embrace the conversations of the web.
Other things I would suggest to make this directory stand out:
1. Drive home the value of local search to garner more business listings. Explain the importance of it, and show businesses how being listed, with more than just a name, address, and phone number, could benefit them.
2. Be different when marketing to businesses. Show statistics if possible. Give the businesses hard hitting reasons for being listed in your directory.
As it is, Findoha does a good job of presenting a standard vertical niche directory. It does need some SEO work, and it could use some updated 2.0 type features to really stand out from the crowd, but it is far better than most of the lame, cookie-cutter directories I come across every day. I'll remember Findoha the next time I build a directory.
The above is a paid review