A man reviewing a website

Reviews are too Often Overlooked

Reviews condition people. At the end of the day, a lot of human minds are malleable. They can be easily shaped with strong words.
Drake

A Quick Word on Point of View

It’s really easy for Website owners to overlook seemingly obvious things. This usually boils down to a question of perspective. When a visitor comes to a site, they are often curious, tentative or even skeptical. The owner of a site, on the other hand, is generally focused on the action they want the visitor to take. That’s why it is really important to consider an outsider’s perspective when it comes to how to set up a site.

A Tale of Two Reviews

There are actually two kinds of reviews that we’re going to look at: development reviews and user reviews.

Development Reviews

Development reviews are “friendly” reviews from someone who has not been involved in the day to day process of getting a site set up. This could be a friend, colleague, family member or just about anyone whose opinion is trusted. Just as getting another person to proofread a written document is a good idea, getting someone else to give a sense of how a site “flows” is also a good idea.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You don’t have to do everything that a reviewer suggests
  • Friendly reviews will often be pretty soft – most of our friends instinctively refrain from harsh critique. Ask people to be as frank as possible!
  • Try getting more than one review. The more perspectives the better!

User Reviews

User reviews are genuine reviews be actual visitors to your site (or users of your product, etc.) These reviews are important for several reasons:

  • This is your most valuable feedback
  • These reviews can help shape other user’s opinions
  • Reviews are fundamental to building social proof for your site

How to source Website Reviews

Depending on what it is that you do, people may or may not leave reviews on their own. Businesses/products on Yelp or Amazon, for instance, will get reviews almost automatically. For other kinds of sites, however, users might not think of reviewing them on their own. In this case, the best approach is often to ask for reviews! in fact, asking for reviews will typically generate better reviews. Why? Well, people who write an unprompted review are often complaining. When you ask for a review, however, it’s the people who like you that are most likely to respond.

Don’t Fake Reviews

It’s tempting for businesses starting out to make up some reviews to get the ball rolling. This is a bad idea. In many countries it is actually illegal (check with a local lawyer to be sure), but in every country it is a bad idea. Instead of faking reviews, ask people for feedback. Offer a discount to your first 10 users, in exchange for their honest feedback.

Dealing with Bad Reviews

Even the best companies in the world have unsatisfied customers. The unfortunate truth is that there are some people who will decide they don’t like your site. Sometimes they decide to spread this opinion in the form of negative reviews. This can be an incredibly frustrating experience!

Don’t Feed the Trolls

This is one of the oldest bits of Internet wisdom around, but it is just as true today. If someone is beyond reason, there isn’t anything to be gained by engaging with them. In fact, that will likely only encourage them! Better to move on, and use your energy for more positive pursuits.

Signal to Noise Ratio

Bad reviews are not the end of the world. Instead of viewing them that way, think of them as a little bit of noise in an otherwise clear signal. The best way to minimize the negative reviews is to make sure there are more positive reviews to help put them in context.

Set the Record Straight

Some review forums allow for site owners to respond to reviews. If a review is negative, but sincere, offer a polite response offering to make things right, and setting the record straight. Don’t sound angry or defensive though!

Final Thoughts

Website reviews help to shape how users think about your site. Pay attention to them, and imagine user feedback when creating your content. Considering this perspective will help you build a better site.

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