Different from a Product Review
As a blogger, I've been approached to write dozens of product reviews. More rarely I am approached to write a review of a website. Because of my particular niche, the websites I am requested to review are educational ones for children.
After writing so many product and curriculum reviews, I thought it would be a piece of cake to write a website review. However, as I started work on the project, I discovered that reviewing an online service requires a somewhat modified approach than a product review.
Here are my tips based on what I have learned.
Tips for Writing a Website Review
Any online article or blog post is enhanced with photos. For a website review, your images are going to be screenshots. If you don't know how to grab screenshots, now is the time to learn. I use the Ctrl+Alt+Print Screen combination which copies the screen into the clipboard. Then I open Paint and paste it in, crop it, etc. There is plenty of screenshot freeware out there. Do a little hunting and see what works best for you.
When adding screenshot images to your review post, be sure to use the alt tag to add the name of the website you are reviewing. This makes your images SEO friendly.
Choose your screenshots wisely. Pick ones with vibrant colors and large text or images. If necessary, edit your screenshots with explanatory notes. (I use Paint to do this.)
The only problem with screenshots would be if the website owner desires to keep certain aspects of his website underwraps. This is particularly important if the website is a membership only site. So be sure to check with the client before publishing images. Alternatively, the company may have screenshots available for your use.
Give an overall idea of what this website is. What does it do? What does it offer the user? How does it work, in general terms? Give the big picture before getting into the nitty gritty details.
Ease of Use
Emphasize the ease of use. Most people today are incredibly computer savvy, but sometimes that works against us when learning a new site. We are accustomed to breezing through our favorite sites, intuitively clicking just where we need to and rarely stopping to hunt for particular things. When we are faced with a new site, our reactions slow dramatically. We have to think deliberately about how to do the things we want to do. We have to learn new terminology. That can lead to frustration.
Reassure your review readers that the website is easy to use. Highlight the primary features of the site while leaving some things to be discovered. If you're struggling for ideas, see the chart below for features to explore in your review.
Website Features to Discuss
ads or ad free?
requires plug-ins or software
Applications & Benefits
Help your readers see how this product would work for them. One of the cardinal rules of a review is to share benefits not features.
The reader wants to know how this online service will be to his advantage.
Obviously, you will have to share features too. But make sure to drive home how those features benefit the user. One tip I have here is the "So what?" tip. I ask myself this a lot when writing a review. State a feature, and then ask yourself "So what?" to help yourself come up with the benefit of that feature.
Personalize Your Review for Your Niche
The company asked you to do a product review because of your personal writing voice and your audience reach. So make your review unique by applying your own personal spin to it. For example, I am a homeschooling mom to one child. I look at everything educational through the lens of homeschooling. It's only natural for me to include that aspect in my review. An added bonus is that my readers, mostly homeschool moms, will also be seeing through that same lens. My review becomes more helpful to them when I put my personal spin on the review. It also makes my review stand out from those of any other bloggers who review the product.
How to Deal With Negatives
If you are being paid for your review, dealing with negatives can be awkward. Obviously you want to present an honest review. No amount of money is worth violating the trust of your readers. But your client also expects a favorable report. How can you reconcile these two?
You can simply choose not to address them at all. Most readers realize that no online service is perfect. There are certainly going to be negatives, and a potential customer will expect that even if you don't explicitly express them.
The way I like to deal with negatives is to put a spin on them. An easy way to do this is to use the headings This Website Won't Work For You If....
In that way, your statements are not so much negative as simply describing whom the website would be a good fit for. It also puts the negative aspect on the shoulders of the user rather than the website.
If this seems deceptive, it's really not. As the saying goes, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." Just because I see a feature of the website as a negative doesn't mean that every other user will feel that way. Couching your negative assessments in this way is really fairer to the client than an outright criticism.
If you are concerned, you may want to send your client a draft of your review, explaining why you feel it necessary to point out a few negative facets. Highlight your credibility with your audience. This is part of what the client is paying you for.
If there are spots the company is especially worried about, you can negotiate revisions. Of course, your honest opinion needs to come through clearly in the review, but if you are worried about alienating your client, just ask.
Nix the Project
If after using the online service you feel that you cannot honestly recommend the website, be upfront about it with your client. If you've already received payment, send it back. As a courtesy to the client, send a brief list of the problems you see with their service. Maybe the company will make the recommended changes and pursue you later for a review you can stand behind.
Paid Reviews or Free Reviews?
About Paid Reviews
Some purists maintain that being paid for a review automatically makes the writer biased. I can respect that stance even though I don't hold it. Obviously, a paid blogger will be more careful about saying negative things, but I do believe that a paid review can be honest and helpful. Why?
1. As a writer, I know how to craft my review so that it is both honest and positive.
2. As a writer, I know how to word the negatives to lessen their impact while still showing that I see the service objectively for its pros and cons.
3. A paid review must be clearly indicated with a statement of disclosure. A blog reader will realize the potential for a (not necessarily actual) conflict of interest and will read accordingly.
I have written plenty of product reviews, curriculum reviews, and website reviews. They are very time intensive if you do a good job. I appreciate when companies reward my time with a courtesy payment.
Shakeel Arshad from Birmingham on June 21, 2018:
can someone review my site
Legese on October 17, 2017:
I want to know how to make a review on a website. Does a website has a special place for a review? I have a website and If i want to make a review how do I do it?
Anton Lyubenov on August 10, 2017:
Can anyone help me to write a review of one italian website which sells fake fragrances?
Iyoryisa Terzurum Stephen on August 05, 2017:
Thank you for the tips.
Lol on December 07, 2016:
I didn't understand anything because I'm stupid Russian boy
Maniona on August 26, 2016:
I never realized that giving a review is also paid. Are there any particuler websites that pay and where we can give reviews . Are these also available for service provided.
Like i am a service provider of online contest votes. Do i get reviews published anywhere for my services.
Francesca Rollins on March 22, 2016:
I want to write a scathing review of my dealings with Hotels.com. Where do you suggest I post such a thing?
want to review dollarwp.com on November 03, 2015:
of giving this out a try since I am thinking of migrating multiple websites to Wordpress. But I am on the dashboard panel and for some reason, i just cannot access the admin page of the supposedly trial wordpress site. Now, what's my response? To go to the supposedly helpful chat support.
When I reached out, I asked if he (specifically a guy/girl named SANDERS) could check out my account since the email would give you everything. He still asked for the domain of the site and I gave it to him, even though e could have just looked it up.
Next thing, I initially told him that I have no idea what happened to the admin page, since this is the 2nd time I will be accessing the wordpress. Then he babbled on some technical linggo even after telling him I did not know what happened to the site.
I told him I would not know what he was talking about and he responded with some mumbo jumbo again.
Here's the convo:
Sanders: You need to remove www rule from the code
→yeah so how am i supposed to end the site from the admin page if i cannot eeven access the admin page
Sanders: That is what I mentioned... you need to modify the code
→im not even sure how it got a www code
Sanders: the Script
Again, I already emphasized I would not know anything about the script. I basically just logged in an out and boom, this is what happened. So the obviously inexperienced tech guy already said I was "abusing" him, while not determining the fact that he was unable to actually help me.
I told him about my disappointment in his service and told him i would be writing a bad review. His response as a GOOD tech support? SURE! Why the hell not!
Lesson (especially if you are starting out and you do not really have any reputation yet): Treat your customers like gold. Understand what they need and NEVER EVER ACCUSE THEM OF ABUSING YOU (like seriously? We're chatting. How is that abuse?!??!)
Lastly, he was the one who ended the chat even before the customer ended it.
Clearly, the management and the entire company do not have defined measures for success. I really hope and pray this company rots.
These people do not know what they are doing. They are probably just using a reseller server to host all your plans. The cheap prices are very attractive, but you will also experience a CHEAP SUPPORT and cheap tech. The dashboard is just crappy and the tech are not even helpful.
dick on May 26, 2014:
Farzana on August 11, 2013:
Love all the great pictures of your home and deihss. I've been a follower for close to two years I think. I have blue willow too. Did a thanksgiving post but my style is not cottage. I enjoy looking at yours though and tried to do one bedroom in my house in that style, but no one else who lives in my home would hear of it My question today is have you done a recent post about a new kitchen rug. Someone I follow did and I can't for the life of me find it again. BTW, love your new look too.
Entony on August 10, 2013:
Thanks for mentioning the soy! I renlctey started on a soy lecithin mixture, and have wondered if my sudden added 2-3 pounds were related. I will now be looking for sunflower lecithin to replace the soy.I had trouble with the coconut oil making me nauseated at first. But I've learned that if I put the coconut oil in hot tea or coffee or soup anything hot and liquid I have no nausea, and can even handle a heaping half tablespoon at a time. I can also eat it in oatmeal or other hot cereal. And yes, I cook everything in it, and have done that for years. But if I'm eating something cold with it, it will be a problem. Thought it might help you or someone else to try it in a hot drink.And by the way, for anyone dealing with Alzheimer's, dementia, or even failing memory coconut oil can make a big difference. There are lots of good stories about it (do an online search), but from a personal perspective, what a difference it has made for my husband's thinking! I was afraid I was beginning to lose him, but now he's back. Just be sure to get 3-5 doses daily, as it wears off quickly.
Jimmie Quick (author) from Memphis, TN USA on December 21, 2011:
Thanks, Rabecker. Yes, you can. If you are approached to do a review, be sure to ask for compensation. Of course, you need to disclose that in your blog post.
rabecker on October 26, 2011:
Thank you on for the tips on reviewing a web site. I hadn't realized that you could be paid to review a web site or product.