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Effective e-commerce: Ratings and Reviews

Having difficulties creating an appealing shopping experience on your e-commerce site?  Let’s face it.  Online shopping sites that fail to engage the audience in some meaningful, useful way do not translate into sales very well or generate more business.  One of the best ways to invite shoppers to connect better is through the use of reviews and ratings.
In his book “Designing for the Social Web”, Joshua Porter notes that shoppers are on the hunt for reliable, truthful information concerning consumer products, not exaggerated marketing lingo hatched in the minds of sophisticated web copywriters.  Offering creative and stylish ways for shoppers to read and give honest opinions is a great way to attract the type of visitors willing to invest in your business and your site.
In this post, we’ll discuss two great e-commerce features allowing shoppers to interact on your site: ratings and reviews, and we’ll give a few tips and hits on how to use them effectively in web design.


Ratings

A quick no-nonsense way to gather useful product feedback from users is with ratings.  Ratings are the darling of web shoppers with very little time, but who’d still like to give their opinion.  Just one click and shoppers are able to move on to other things.
Here, sticking to the convention usually works best.  Most e-commerce sites use the conventional stars, which light up when hovered, of course, for ratings and the well-known thumbs up/thumbs down approach for voting.  Both work equally well and are consistent and familiar to most shoppers.
Keep this design simple, but don’t leave off ratings descriptions to help the shopper along, such as “Terrible” “So So” and “Excellent.”  Also, include straight-forward instructions, such as “Rate this product here.”  Be carefully clear about what’s being rated, and let the customers know whether it’s the product, service or other items.

When designing the rating results, it’s a good idea to keep the rating labels as up-front as possible so that users understand who’s leaving the ratings. Keep results positioned near the product or service being rated, and use a good distinguisher, such as a color change, to show that a rating is complete and received in full.

One major dilemma often encountered when designing e-commerce sites involves showing the relevance of ratings.  In fact, many ratings systems are designed completely without this engaging feature.  Showing relevance helps customers make educated decisions about a product.  This is because relevance of a rating system depends directly on how many votes a product or service has or does not have.  Show relevance with a creative table or chart.  This can encourage shoppers to voice their opinions themselves.

Getting Reviews

When it comes to designing reviews, convenience and simplicity is the name of the game.  Rather than sending follow-up emails, which can be ill-timed and annoying, solicit reviews with a simple “Review this” button positioned near the product or service.  Making it convenient may encourage those who lack enough motivation to contribute.

For even more customer convenience, allow users to select from a predetermined list of “good” and “bad” qualities.  Furthermore, it’s a good idea to allow users to preview before posting a review to check for errors and mistakes.  This builds user confidence.  Again, the ease of leaving a review is likely to yield the most interaction, so make the entire process as inviting as possible.

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