These days there are quite a few people out there writing reviews of other websites and blogs. Many people write these reviews primarily because they find a site that interests them. Others do so because they want to make some money and get paid; they use services like ReviewMe or PayPerPost to find sites looking for reviews. What I’ve noticed, however, is that many people are cheating their reviewees out of a proper website or blog review.
It seems that the only requirement that many of these review services have is that you meet a minimum number of words in your review. I can’t tell you how many bad reviews I’ve seen. Understand that a bad review in this context does not mean a review saying that a site isn’t very good, but one that doesn’t properly cover all the bases. For example, look at this bad review that I received recently through the ReviewMe Marketplace. The author says one good thing about my site BiggerPockets®, but the review is completely lacking. It is completely useless, and I’m actually shocked that it was approved by ReviewMe. Notice that they really don’t say anything at all about the site?
5/14/07 Update: ReviewMe refunded me for the cost of this review after I sent an email to them about the issue.
I’ve seen spectacular reviews of sites that are very harsh, but the reviews are good ones, as they help both the reader and the reviewee out. Lets look at some of the more important elements to cover when doing a review:
Elements to Cover When Writing a Paid or Unpaid Website / Blog Review
- Design - The first thing that you see when looking at a website is its design. Is the design pleasing to the eye? Is the site cluttered or difficult to navigate? Are there any glaring design flaws or glitches, or is the site a work of art?
- Focus – What is the focus of the site? If you can’t figure it out, then the author is doing something wrong. Focus should be apparent without hunting around too much. Typically by using design elements, or simple headlines or sub-headlines a site must convey its focus.
- Content – The most obvious element to cover in your review is the site’s content. Does the content of the site match its focus? If not, there is a problem! Is the content easily readable? Does it make sense? What are some of the highlights? Is there a page, article or section of the site that really stands out as being fantastic?
- Writing Style – Writing style is one element that many people often ignore. Does the author share his/her voice? Do you find yourself relating to what you read? Is the style professional or does the author blab on about their dying goldfish in every post?
- Grammer and Punctuation – Does the site use proper grammatical elements? Are there spelling mistakes and punctuation errors all over the place?
- Message Effectiveness – Overall, do you find that the site is effective in putting out its message?
- Website Audience – Who is the intended audience for this site or blog? Are the intended and actual audiences different?
- Info about the author – Is there anything interesting to note about the author? e.g. I was watching the news last night and they were talking about a blog written by a boy with cancer. Is the author an expert or do they have no idea what they are talking about? Do they have any qualifications to write what they are writing?
- Anything else you think is important – Of course, there are other elements that you can discuss as well. Anything about the site that stands out, good or bad, should always be covered in a review.
Fear of Writing a Negative Review
Many people are afraid to write honest reviews of websites. They feel that they may hurt someone’s feelings or they may even feel guilty for writing a negative review that they are getting paid for. By not remaining completely honest when writing a review, you are cheating the reviewee! Whether or not the review is a paid one, you must always stick to your honest opinion.
Don’t go and hype a site just because everyone else is. Don’t say a site is good if it is not. Don’t ignore the problems out of fear. By doing any of these things, you deprive the author/publisher of the opportunity to learn how to improve . . . wouldn’t you want the honest truth?
Note:This post was inspired by a discussion I was reading (I’m the user bigp), and by a review I recieved from someone yesterday (mentioned earlier – worst review ever).