Building Review Sites with Star Ratings

While not everyone feels comfortable pumping out a 700 word review of a product, most people feel inclined to rate just about everything. They’ll hop onto Facebook and rate movies using one of the applications. They’ll go to Amazon and have their say with a product that they just purchased. You ever wonder if you can offer the same functionality on a website of your own?

As it turns out, all you need to convert your WordPress blog into a fully functional review site is the appropriately named WP Review Site WordPress plug-in. To make matters slightly more ironic, this is my review of the WP Review Site plug-in. Maybe I should have activated it for this post only?

The Strength of User Generated Content

For the purposes of making money online, the best kinds of websites are those that are able to run themselves. That’s partly why there are so many forums on the ‘net. The owners of those forums don’t really have to do anything, other than hire a couple of moderators and ensure that the site stays up and running.

The same can be said about review sites that are powered by the WP Review Site plug-in. You’ll need to generate some traffic at first, but the idea is that you will soon able to put together the briefest of posts and have the comments come flooding in. Aside from the comments themselves, each user is able to give a “star” rating on a scale of one to five.

In addition to the overall rating, you can also define additional categories for your site visitors to use. If your site reviews computer hardware, for instance, you can set up ratings for performance, build quality, and price/value. These star ratings can either be displayed horizontally or vertically. For more information, check out the features page.

A Look at the Options

Converting your regular WordPress blog into a fully functional review site is as easy as installing a plug-in. When you buy this product, you will be provided with a zip file. Unzip that, find the plug-in folder, and upload as normal. Activate the plug-in in WordPress and then you’ll find the configuration under the Options tab.

There are three sections to the options area:

In the first section, you can add and remove rating categories. If you find that there is demand for an additional category, like “support” or “appearance”, you can add those here.

The second section is for the automatic embedding of the star ratings in your posts, pages, and comments. You can shoose to use either tables or lists for the ratings display. Unfortunately, the plug-in does not allow you to automatically choose whether the ratings only show up in posts and not pages, for example. To do that, you need to edit your theme files.

The final section is for adjusting the CSS of the ratings widgets. You’ll want them to blend in with your site, after all.

Weighted Average Listing

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it’s much more valuable to see a product in action. Award Winning Hosts is a website that was designed and run by the same people that created the WP Review Site plug-in. The site, as you can imagine, is partly powered by that plug-in.

Along with the individual reviews (and comments) for each of the web hosting companies, you’ll also notice that there is a list of all the web hosts along the right side. This list is not chronological or alphabetical. Instead, the list is based on the user ratings. Better still, this WordPress plug-in uses a weighted average to prevent a single five-star rating from ousting 40 four-star ratings.

Great for Affiliate Links

As you can imagine, WP Review Site was designed with affiliate marketing in mind. For each and every product (or service) reviewed on one of these websites, you can easily integrate some affiliate links. This way, any site visitor that comes to your site for information will get redirected to the vendor via your affiliate link. It’s important to get that “last cookie”, so to speak.

In case you’re wondering, the rating system becomes completely integrated with the comment system on your blog. This means that the ratings can still be moderated, marked as spam, and so on.

Pricing and Bonuses

For all intents and purposes, WP Review Site looks like it could be a valuable addition to any review or shopping site. Allowing users to have their say through star ratings is very appealing. That said, I did find that it was lacking in one major area: You still need to have some basic PHP and CSS knowledge to fully integrate this plug-in. If it’s supposed to be easy (and newbie-friendly), this shouldn’t be the case. You should be able to adjust these basic settings through the control panel.

WP Review Site is currently priced at $97. That includes the plug-in, a “free” review-minded WordPress theme, and some affiliate marketing features.