Interested in how to create a review website?
This is a great market that is growing rapidly.
Using review sites is an increasingly common behavior among consumers. As a recent Statista report highlights, 17% of American internet users check product or service reviews online before they buy it.
This trend is particularly high for certain age groups. In certain groups, as much as 40% of internet shoppers rely on online reviews, as this Statista report shows. When it comes to leaving feedback, some age groups see over 50% of users post reviews. Read this Statista report for more details.
First, let’s see what is a review website and the features a good review website should have. Then, we will see how to create a review website successfully.
What is a review website?
Review websites are platforms where consumers find reviews of products and services they might buy. However, that‘s not all. Review websites are increasingly becoming important for businesses as marketing tools.
Gaining enough good online reviews is now important for most businesses. Whether a restaurant or a software development company, these businesses are trying to get as many 5-star reviews as possible. What’s even more important is that they prefer these reviews to reflect on reputed review websites.
Review websites enable transparency, and consumers love it! Consumers can post their reviews and give a star rating. Businesses need to acknowledge, take appropriate actions, and respond promptly to the reviews.
Good review websites maintain a clear audit trail that shows whether a business took the required action. This further adds to the transparency. No wonder a HubSpot report notes that 1/3rd of their survey respondents acknowledged the importance of reviews.
Examples of popular review websites
Let‘s analyze a few popular review websites. You can get ideas about design and features in your journey to create a review website.
Amazon Customer Reviews
One of the earliest websites to allow customers to post reviews, Amazon Customer Reviews remains a very popular review website. Many consumers rely on the review ratings and comments on this website.
The website features a 5-star rating scale. Aggregate rating percentage, review comments from customers, recent customer reviews, etc. are the other key features.
Users need to pay a membership fee. The site focuses on US-based services businesses. Reviews are on an A-F scale. Customers can‘t post anonymous review comments. Companies can set up a review page for free, additionally, they can respond to review comments. Only members of Angie‘s List can post review comments.
Choice is based out of Australia, therefore, businesses having customers in Australia can take advantage of it. They test products and services independently. The company independently publishes reviews and comparisons. They also create buying guides. It‘s funded by members, additionally, members can post review comments.
Trustpilot is based out of Denmark. They are present in Europe, the US, and several other countries. Businesses can use this platform to collect customer reviews proactively. Customers write the product review, however, a 3rd party verifies them.
The company offers a limited free version. The premium version is powerful, where businesses can customize review invitations. Businesses can also share reviews and ratings using social media.
TestFreaks is based out of Sweden. They are like Trustpilot in many ways. Companies can proactively collect customer reviews. They can respond to customer review comments. This platform also has a Q&A form. Prospective customers can ask questions and the customer service team of the business can answer them here.
Features that a review website should have
A competitive review website should offer the following features:
- The website should allow rating moderation. Verification is required for reviews. This feature prevents spam.
- ’Search Engine Optimization‘ (SEO) is important for a review website. It should use important SEO components like rich snippets.
- Users need aggregate rating data. The data should be broken down to different star levels, with percentage ratings shown for each star.
- Consumers should be able to write review comments. Forms, where customers write a review, should be easy and intuitive. These forms need to collect relevant information. Customers might change their minds, therefore, an edit option is also important.
- Users need to sort results by rating. They should also be able to see the most recent reviews. Filtering options are needed on the website.
- Review comments should be clearly displayed.
- Users of the website should be able to export results into CSV files.
- An easy ’User Interface‘ (UI) with responsive design is important.
Read more about these features in “7 important features every WordPress rating/review system must have”.
Integrating affiliate programs with a review website: An idea worth considering
You can integrate an affiliate link into your review website. Customers read reviews of products on your site. Subsequently, they follow links to buy these products.
You earn an affiliate commission when they buy using links on your site. This can be a form of passive income for you.
A good example of such a program is Amazon Associates. This well-known Amazon affiliate program helps content creators, publishers, and bloggers monetize their traffic.
Make a review website using WordPress
This is a no-coding option. If you are an entrepreneur in a hurry, and you don‘t have a development team, then this could be your option. You can quickly build a review website using WordPress, the popular ’Content Management System‘ (CMS).
Why you might want to use WordPress to create a review site?
Developers of WordPress initially catered to bloggers. WordPress makes it easy to create appealing homepages, new posts, etc. While it’s still a popular CMS for blogging, many business owners use it for many other purposes. Examples are websites like eCommerce, magazines, portfolios, etc.
WordPress removes the need for coding. WordPress themes control the look and feel of the website. The themes offer a customizer, therefore, you can change several aspects like color, font, layout, etc. Themes usually offer a range of widgets, e.g., social media integration, which you can use.
You can display useful information thanks to the WordPress sidebar. A sidebar is a widget-ready area used by WordPress themes.
WordPress shortcodes offer significant advantages. They are pieces of code that enable users to execute code inside WordPress pages or posts.
Which WordPress themes can you use?
For this project, I suggest you use the “Reviews” theme. You can install it easily and import their demo content. Subsequently, you can replace the demo content with your actual content. It‘s a responsive theme. It‘s easy to customize. Check out the pricing plan here.
You can explore other WordPress product review themes too. A few examples are as follows:
Many of these review themes include useful page-builders like Divi Builder.
Depending on your business, you can use popular WordPress product themes. A few examples are as follows:
- Superfood – for organic food products;
- Manufactura – for handmade crafts;
- Bacola – for grocery stores.
Which WordPress plugins can you use?
WordPress plugins address the core functionalities. Using plugins eliminates the need for custom-code functionalities. I recommend using the “Site Review” WordPress plugin. This allows inserting reviews and comparison tables.
The website admin can create customized review templates. This plugin is suitable for creating a robust user review system.
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You can also explore other WordPress review plugins, e.g.:
These plugins offer many advantages, e.g.:
- Website owners can automatically add new reviews.
- These plugins offer many options for review box display.
- WordPress website owners can make up comprehensive rating systems.
- Leading plugins for a WordPress review website enable site owners to manage review posts and testimonials.
You can use the Schema plugin. This helps you to use Schema markup. It’s a form of code that website owners can incorporate into their websites. Schema markup helps search engines to return more informative results for users.
Procuring a WordPress hosting plan
You need to procure WordPress hosting in this approach. There are several reputed WordPress hosting providers. I suggest you use Bluehost WordPress hosting solution. This is a well-known provider with several pricing plans.
InMotion Hosting is another well-known WordPress hosting provider. It provides high-quality services and reasonable pricing plans. You will find the comprehensive InMotion Hosting WordPress tutorials useful.
You can host your WordPress site using GoDaddy, another web hosting provider. It provides a free domain name if you buy an annual managed WordPress hosting plan.
Onboarding web designers
Hosting, themes, and plugins make up much of your cost to make a review website in this approach. You need web designers. Web designers have less work in WordPress website development projects. That’s because WordPress themes take care of a lot of the design work.
You need to hire web developers only if you have significant customization requirements for WordPress themes or plugins. Onboard developers with PHP and MySQL skills in that case.
Review website development with custom-coding
While using a CMS like WordPress can help you in launching your website quickly, sometimes this may not be enough. You might need to add customized features, and in such cases, custom development is a better option. I will now explain the approach to developing a review website using custom coding.
A high-level overview of the development
At a high level, the following are what you should do:
- Assemble a skilled and experienced team to develop a review website.
- Obtain a ’Platform as a Service‘ (PaaS) account from a PaaS provider. This expedites development.
- Design and develop the website using the appropriate tools on the PaaS platform.
- Integrate ’Application Programming Interfaces‘ (APIs) for addressing core review website functions.
Proactive project management is needed. There are several modern project management methodologies. I had earlier described them in “Top 7 project management methodologies”.
While you can review this guide and choose the methodology that best suits you, I recommend the Agile methodology. It‘s suitable for website development, which is typically an iterative development. You can consult our guide “How to build an Agile development team”.
Building your development team
You need the following skills in the team:
- Business analysts;
- Web designers with HTML and CSS skills;
- Web developers with Java experience;
- A project manager (PM).
It‘s preferred that you onboard a co-located team. However, that may not be possible always. If you need to work with a remote team, then ensure that the PM is experienced in managing a remote team. Our guide “10 essential tips to managing remote employees” can help.
Obtain a Google App Engine PaaS account
PaaS providers can significantly expedite the development process. Cloud computing has provided us with several computing models, and PaaS is one of them. In this model, PaaS providers manage multiple aspects.
This includes the cloud infrastructure, networking, middleware, operating system (OS), and runtime. Developers bring their code and data. For start-ups, this reduces the upfront investment in infrastructure.
I recommend you use Google App Engine, which is Google’s PaaS platform. App Engine has all key PaaS features. It supports popular programming languages like Java, PHP, etc.
This is a fully managed environment where the provider monitors and provides diagnostic support. Scaling, security, etc. are its’ other advantages.
Java, a powerful and proven language can be a good option for your review website. On Google App Engine, you can use their Java runtime environment. Google App Engine offers both standard and flexible Java environments. View their offering here.
Depending on your website requirements and design, you will need to select the appropriate database solution. Google App Engine offers both relational and NoSQL databases. Review their database offerings here.
Website development is an iterative process. Websites are ’Systems of Engagement‘ (SoEs). They require frequent changes. The release management process needs to keep pace with this. Build management, code deployment, and test execution need automation. A robust DevOps process is required. Google has its DevOps solution, and you can review it here.
Check out the comprehensive Google App Engine documentation here. Google App Engine has a free trial period. Contact their sales team for their detailed pricing plan. Using this platform, you can design and develop your website UI.
Now, I will explain how you can address the core functions.
Use the Google “My Business” API for a review website
Google offers its “My Business” API. With this API, you can incorporate review data processing on your website. The API supports the following features:
- The website can list all reviews recorded for a business/product/service.
- Showing specific reviews on the website is possible.
- Businesses can reply to specific review comments.
- A company can delete a reply to a review comment.
The API is available in both HTTP and Java. You can review the API documentation here.
Use the BrightLocal API for online review and rating
In some cases, you might want to obtain data from existing review websites and display them on your website. BrightLocal API enables you to get online review and rating data from sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.
The API can monitor reviews on over 30 prominent websites. You can get review counts, and star ratings. BrightLocal API also lets you extract review comments, reviewer name, review date, etc.
You can access their API reference documents here. They publish their pricing plans on their website. You will need to contact them for additional questions about their pricing. Note that you need to buy their SEO Pro service, to get access to their APIs.
Key considerations while building a review website from scratch
Keep the following considerations in mind when creating a review website:
- You need to offer a great user experience.
- Design technical solutions keeping the non-functional requirements (NFRs) like scalability, performance, maintainability, security, etc. in mind.
- Use modern development tools and frameworks to expedite development and testing.
- Implement a thorough code review process.
The approach to the project management
This is a complex development project requiring a structured approach. The ’Scrum‘ technique, a part of the larger body of the Agile methodology, is the way to go. This supports iterative development. Iterations in this technique are called ’Sprints‘.
A ’Scrum team‘ is led by the ’Scrum master‘, i.e., the PM. It‘s a cross-functional team, i.e., consisting of designers, developers, testers, and business analysts. The ’Product owner‘ documents the requirements or features in a document called the ’Product backlog‘. A ’Sprint planning meeting‘ is held to slot features into sprints.
The input to this process is the estimation done by the team. Project stakeholders indicate the priority of features, which forms the other input. The first iteration focuses on building the ’Minimum Valuable Product’ (MVP), i.e., the first version launched in the market.
Based on the feedback from the market, there could be a revision of the plans for the other sprints.
There is a ’Daily stand-up meeting‘, i.e., a status meeting. The scrum master uses it to know the project status and resolve issues. The sprint is successful when the features are working as per the specifications, and the project stakeholders approve it in a ’Sprint review meeting‘.
The team also holds a ’Sprint retrospective meeting‘, i.e., a lessons-learned exercise. Read our guide “How to build a Scrum development team” for more details.
Cost to create a review website using the custom development approach
I have explained how you can get the pricing plans for Google App Engine, and the APIs. You need to separately estimate your development manpower cost. Your features will drive that, additionally, the labor rates influence it.
If you need to engage a development partner to create your own review website successfully, check our guide “How to find the best software development company?” to know how to choose one.
If you are still in search of experienced software developers for your development project, DevTeam.Space can help you via its field-expert software developers community. Write to us your initial project specifications, and one of our managers will get back to you for more details.
Frequently Asked Questions on how to create a review website
To create a review website, you will need to create a project specification plan so that you can onboard developers. Find the right developers and then set up the infrastructure and communication channels. Outline the tasks to be completed and the required deadlines. Read this article for more details.
The primary source of revenue for such sites is advertising.
TripAdvisor, Clutch, and Yelp are just a few examples.