A friend has asked for some free advice (no problem with that) but the solution in this case may lie with a CMS, an area where I have little knowledge. The person may have identified a particular niche and wants a website for particular services country wide, with the provider of those services being able to input information.
Is Wordprress, or any other CMS able to cope with this, or do they have to use a bespoke designed site with a db? Can wordpress etc use https for the user input if the nature of the information requires it? Thanks in advance
There are some directory-specific solutions and there are various CMS that allow rich profiles. I have a directory using Drupal. A friend/competitor in the same niche has a directory using Moveable Type.
But both of us let users add all sorts of content (blog posts, photo galleries). If you really want just a directory without each member being able to maintain a blog and all that, I would go for some directory-specific software. I think there might be some with subscription management built in.