Article  |  Strategy

Researching Product Reviews Across the Web

Reading time: ~ 2 minutes

How well do you rate?
Have you ever made a decision based on someone else’s recommendation? Of course you have. According to a Nielsen survey

“nine in every 10 Internet consumers worldwide (90%) trust recommendations from people they know, whilst seven in every 10 (70 percent) trust consumer opinions posted online.”

This means 70% of us have at one time used a recommendation, by someone we’ve never met. Might be a strong enough reason to focus on building this type of feedback mechanism for your website. But here’s an even stronger message; when compared next to digital advertising, the results showed that

“Text ads on mobile phones (24 percent), online banner ads (33 percent), online video ads (37 percent) and ads in search engine results (41 percent) are the forms of advertising least likely to elicit a degree of trust.”

This means, if you’re a company with an online presence, your past customers can help build up confidence in your product and bring in potential customers, maybe more effectively than you can do yourself.

That’s pretty powerful.
So it’s no surprise that we take this stuff seriously and, as such, we’ve been working with one of our clients to help them take advantage of this powerful marketing tool. Over the years, they’ve been gathering reviews through written comments and star ratings. While we’ve created a way for reviews to display for each product, they needed a way to show (and prove) what’s behind the ratings.

This initiated a quick search of how others have done this (successfully) and we thought we’d share what we found.
Here’s a look of the different designs we saw:

It’s all about the bars:
The preferred (and almost only) method of the ratings breakdown was displaying the scale through horizontal bars.

CitySearch preferred the longer horizontal bars,

while CNET and Amazon preferred the shorter chart, wrapped into a review module.

Yelp and iTunes chose the smaller scale (though Yelp includes a bonus chart – showing trends over time)

Stacked Bars:
Google ratings had an interesting stacked/composite horizontal bar, demonstrating each rating total as part of the whole.


Just a visual list:
And apart from the rest, Zappos opted out of the bar design and listed the total percent each rating received.
Adobe Fireworks CS5

So, what did our research find?

While there were some lists (similar to Zappos) and some non-noteable pie charts, showing horizontal bars won overall as the preferred design. Furthermore, the overall designs were practically the same, with just a few differences in display (e.g. showing number of reviews vs. percent, showing stars vs. bars or both!) and user interaction (e.g. being able to filter by a particular rate, add in your own review/rating on the spot, or click to see the rating trend over time).

Now with some ideas in mind, it’s onto creating our version to help our client connect the past to the future, and help customers make their decision that much easier.

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