iLister Classifieds Software Review
Review For iLister Classifieds Software
About a year ago I bought a nice domain name in my region – www.nevesta.kg (“nevesta” means “bride” in Russian). My idea was to run a local classifieds wedding site in Kirghizstan (.kg zone). I was interested in ready-made software solution for my site which can be easily modified according to my requirements. I tried a number of classifieds scripts and chose the one: iLister classifieds software by WorksForWeb. iLister Classifieds software is a multi-purpose listing script for Web developers of turnkey classified solutions. It’s meant for multiple categories classified website projects with multi-language capabilities. Top reasons to build my local classifieds website at iLister were as follows:
– CMS with publications, polls, etc. I needed some wedding-related content on my site to attract visitors.
– SEO-frendliness of the software. I want my site to be visible to search engines and give the local vendors who post ads at my site the chance to be noticed by their potential clients (brides and grooms) through internet search.
– Multilanguage support. I have to run my site in Russian. Further I plan to add the second language – Kyrgyz.
– Ability to earn money with my classifieds site. It’s clear. I simply want to get money for ability to advertize wedding-related services and products. iLister provided me the flexible membership plans and a number of options for increasing my revenue from ads – highlighting, adding video, pictures – all these stuff to make listings attractive at additional cost.
– Ability to build product catalogue with many categories and subcategories with fast and convenient search through all ads.
iLister classifieds software comes with different price ranges:
I bought iLister Special Edition which is the cheapest one, as I don’t need technical support, installation help and other stuff that differs Special edition from Standard
Technical requirements for iLister Classifieds Software
As you can see, ionCube is required to run iLister, which means that some part of the software code is encrypted. Me and my developers performed a number of code and template modifications to the classifieds software but didn’t face any problems with encrypted code so I assume the limitations don’t affect the ability to modify the software to match your needs.
The only trouble with the script installation was that I had to ask my hosting provider to install ionCube and a pair of libraries at the server. Actually the majority of world-class providers have all these software installed at their servers by default, but here in Kyrgyzstan hosting services (as well as overall internet market) is poorly developed. So I was the first who needed to run the software with such requirements.
Before purchasing iLister I installed a free 15 days trial version for testing and making the purchase decision. As soon as I could see that the script suited me I bought it and replaced the trial license files with permanent ones.
iLister Classifieds Software Functionality
My first task was to translate the site based at iLister script into Russian as the default language of the software is English. There was a Russian lang file available from the manufacturer. I imported Russian language (there is a special section in Admin Panel). The language file wasn’t quite full (some phrase translations were missing) but the problem was easily fixed in “Manage Phrases” section where I could add new phrases and correct the improper translation.
Language management section in iLister Admin Panel
Lately I faced the improper displaying of the Cyrillic symbols at site pages, but I got rid of the problem simply by saving all templates in UTF-8 format. Another issue I had to fix was the list of American states in a dropdown menu (user needs to choose the state when posting an ad). We changed the list (replaced American states with CIS countries) in the database and the localization issue was finally solved.
Customizable templates gave me the opportunity to provide the site attractive look and feel. We divided the site area into three basic blocks:
-left block (main menu, polls, publication section and banner ads);
– central block (where static content goes – articles, etc);
– right block (various publications and banners).
Actually I’m not going to make you tired with long description of the site structure. I would like just notice that .tpl files give you a real freedom to change the design and appearance of every page at the site. I should say such flexibility is very useful and convenient.
As for the graphic design, we bought it from templatemonster (iLister has few graphic themes to choose from but we needed a special bridal design). We haven’t faced any problems with implementing third party graphics to the iLister script, so I doubt you will face them.
Everybody knows that useful content is the basis for every website. I populated the site with articles about wedding planning, gown choice, decoration ideas. This type of content (let’s name it “always popular articles”) was added as Static Content via Admin Panel of the software. The content that is going to loose the popularity as the time passes was added as Publications, e.g. bridal collection reviews or latest fashion tendencies reviews which renews every year or even season. As the publications become obsolete they can be moved to archives. Publications system at iLister allows to create unlimited number of sections so I created the following sections with often changed content “Wedding News”, “Wedding reports” (wedding stories offered by our brides), “Wedding Ideas” with original tips and ideas for weddings. Publication sections can be displayed at any place of the site, their placement is configurable via template files (.tpl files) so it makes the website look very dynamic.
The next step was to create a classifieds section, a kind of local wedding yellow pages, where visitors can find wedding-oriented products and services. iLister allowed me to create a catalogue with multiple categories such as: Wedding Fashion, Wedding Photography, Hairstyle and Make-up, Wedding Flowers, Invitations, Honeymoon, etc. Every category is divided into subcategories, for example, Wedding Fashion category offers the subcategories like Wedding Gowns, Lingerie, Accessories.
Below the catalogue we placed Featured Ads section where all featured listing are displayed randomly. By default this section is located to the right from the catalogue tree, but we moved it because of the graphic design requirements. The graphic design template we purchased has the fixed width so there was no place for Featured Ads section. Small template modification – and we’ve got this section under the catalogue. You are welcome to view the catalogue at http://www.nevesta.kg/catalogue/ (if you are not Russian-speaking visitor it might be a problem to find the classifieds section :)). The site is young (it went live in Feb 2010) so the catalogue is not populated with numerous ads yet.
To make the listing appearance suitable for my wedding site I changed the listing fields via Admin Panel (deleted the unwanted fields and added the new ones). iLister classifieds software allows to edit common fields for all categories and even add specific field to every category. I made some tuning easily. Actually I didn’t change much because the default settings were quite applicable and now you can see the iLister default functional at the listings at my site: features like Save Ad, Print Ad, Tell a Friend (refer you to the form where you can share the ad you like with a friend via e-mail). Visitors are able to rate the ad, contact the seller or view all ads by the particular seller.
What I absolutely love about iLIster is the ability to place watermark at the uploaded images. My experience shows that brides usually shares images of dresses, accessories and other wedding things with friends. So I placed the watermark with the name of my site at every image (software makes it automatically). So now I can be sure that every picture downloaded from a listing at the site will contain my URL and attract new visitors.
One of the most attractive SEO-options for me is the ability of the iLister classifieds script to define particular Title, Description and Keywords for every User Page at the site. Every time I create new content for the site I define the keyphrases and title with description and search engines offer my content to those who looks for wedding stuff in my country. I configured settings to enrich the meta-tags for listing details pages, so my advertisers can be sure that their ads are visible in google, yahoo, yandex.ru or rambler.ru.
To manage banner advertisements at the site I purchased Banner Management Addon for iLister (about $50). It allows two banner types: flash and image. BMA tracks simple statistics, allows to create banner groups, set the rotation interval and configure other settings. As far as I can see BMA tool suits my banner management needs and that’s what I wanted.
To complete the preparations I had to configure the membership plans. iLister Classifieds Software offers two general types for membership plans: subscription-based and pay-per-listing plans. Configuring plans and packages appears quite simple. I played with options every package offers (number of pictures for listings, number of listings, video upload opportunities, listing addition to Featured ads section and others), set the prices for plans and packages and – ready!
Conclusions and recommendations
Good classifieds software that can be easily modified if need. Simple CMS to create some content, simple banner management tool to offer banner advertising at your site, user-friendly classifieds engine to create product catalogue. Third-party design applicable. Options for SEO as a nice bonus.
Important note: I don’t recommend you to buy Special Edition if you are not an experienced PHP developer or web-master. If you doubt your skills you would better purchase Standard Edition, it’s more expensive, but it goes with 6-months support, free installation and other bonuses.
Running my site at iLister classifieds script I regret just one thing: a new version was released by the manufacturer a half year after I installed the software and started to modify it. WorksForWeb offered new credit point system to pay for the listings and membership plans and a number of other features I am eager to use. As far as I have made so many changes to the software the upgrade to a newer version became a real challenge for me. Upgrading iLister without significant changes in functional or design is just a snap, but I have altered so many things. Probably next time I write a review about possible troubles with upgrading my copy of iLister classifieds software.
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