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Effective E-commerce: Presenting Review

Even in web design, communication is critical to success.  No other place is this as true as with e-commerce sites, especially when they include product or service reviews.  Recent observations have shown that the first place that shoppers visit for online shopping of all kinds is Amazon.com, and not necessarily to purchase Amazon products.  They stop there first for the reviews.  Customers want reliable and supportive information they can trust when it comes to making online purchase decisions.  Thus, a presentable review system is an essential ingredient for effective e-commerce design.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how to display review systems as well as how to manage customer interaction with reviews from a design standpoint.  Let’s take a look.
Presenting a Review System
When it comes to presenting your reviews, the name of the game is the connection.  Beyond no-brainers like including the date and possible a summary or excerpt, inclusion of as much information about the author of the review is also highly recommended.  This will encourage the reader to connect with the reviewer through a line of trustworthiness.  If the reader can see that Dave J (below) is a professional developer, his validity of his review is taken to another level. One good way to do this is by displaying the author’s name with a link leading to the more information or an on-site profile with other reviews the author has written.

Yahoo Shopping

Another powerful aspect of designing reviews is motivation.  Many review systems end up as just blank forms taking up much needed space on a product page because users simply aren’t motivated to take the time reviewing an item.  One good way to offer encouragement is with rewards and incentives.    Giving top reviewers recognition for their hard work shows customer appreciation and challenges others to break into the ranks.  Even more encouraging are discounts and bonuses, such as points earned that can later be applied for merchandise or sales.

Managing Interaction Generated By Reviews

Thorough e-commerce design not only includes a review system enabling customers to express opinions on products and service, it also sets up a creative way for customers to reply to those reviews.  Sometimes, customers who read reviews are often inspired to respond with disagreement or merely an added comment.  You’ll want to present a review system flexible enough to handle this scenario.
Display a way to vote on a review is an easy way to qualify reviews, and can easily be tallied to show, which reviews rank highest in the opinion of customers.  This method provides a double function.  It provides feedback for the review, encouraging them to write more reviews and it provides feedback to other customers seeing the product for the first time.  When done correctly, it’s a great way to boost a product description and enhance the site’s overall usability.

Rate it all

One other good way to increase the value of reviews and overall interaction on the site is to allow reviewers to leave the comments.  Of course, customers will find them useful as a way to recommend related products or to leave feedback for reviewers, but site owners will also find them helpful for responding to reviews.  Entire conversations, built from comment threads, can be used in blog posts and testimonials, with the author’s permission of course, to boost the credibility of both the business and the site.

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