When I first had the idea of creating a local classifieds website, I thought about using forum software such as Simple Machines or phpBB. Forum software would do the trick, but if I had software that was built specifically for the purpose of running a classifieds website, then it could be more successful, easier to use, and already be set up for my needs.
I didn’t want to spend any money for the classifieds software because I had no idea if it would be successful, if I would make money from AdSense, or if the website would be a total flop. After about ten minutes of research (I was choosing the first software package I found that fit my needs), I settled upon Open Source Classifieds. The software uses one MySQL database, PHP files, and some HTML files to run properly. What I didn’t know when I was downloading the software was that installation was very simple. All you have to do is create a MySQL database on your web host, download the Open Classifieds files, upload them to your server, then navigate to www.yourdomain.com/install. After inserting the information about your database you created, the software will configure automatically without you having to do anything. It’s not exactly as simple as a one-click WordPress install, but it was simpler than I thought it was going to be.
After everything was set up and configured, it took about thirty minutes to get the settings right, customize the look and feel of the website, insert the proper categories, and set up the cities that could post on the website. It’s disappointing that you can only customize the categories, theme, and sidebar, but that’s enough to make it personal. The rest of the elements – the logo, text signup form, email confirmations, etc – can’t be changed. Also, I didn’t like the fact that the software included no SEO options, no ways to create meta tags, no ways to edit page titles, and seemed to be incomplete under the hood.
All in all, I am happy with Open Classifieds. It’s not perfect, but it’s an open-source project, so I didn’t expect it to be. I completed my website, Franklin County Yard Sale, in just a few hours, so I can’t complain. After I announced that the website was up and running, I had 10 posts immediately by different people all over Franklin County. Open Classifieds is fully functional, works the way it should, and gets the job done, but it could use a little work on the backend.