If you review products on a routine basis you’ll find that writing quality product reviews is harder than it seems.
You are typically being asked to provide honest product-specific feedback (good, bad, or otherwise) that a purchaser might not otherwise have known about prior to making a purchasing decision.
If you’re just going to give everything 5 stars and say it’s a great product, you will be doing a huge disservice to the rest of us who truly rely on reviews to make purchasing decisions. You should give 5 stars to a product that you would be willing to pay full price to purchase. Think of it this way: did you like the product enough that purchase it with your own hard-earned money if you were to lose it or need another?
Providing honest reviews fills the gap between the online photo/description claims versus what the actual physical product is really like.
High-quality reviews are also beneficial to businesses. Reviews provide them with information that can be used to improve their product or correct flaws and safety concerns.
Do Reviews Impact Purchasing Decisions?
Recent surveys suggest that over 85% of consumers say that reviews impact their purchase decisions. Additionally, products with reviews are 30% more likely to be purchased than unreviewed products.
How To Write High-Quality Reviews
The very first step in writing high-quality reviews (the kind that get upvoted as “helpful”) is to create a structured review process. A structured approach to reviewing items will really help you in streamlining the review process and will help you identify what information should be included as you write the review.
When you use the product for its intended purpose and compare that with how the actual physical product compares to its photos and description, you can use your review process to identify aspects that would be important for potential purchasers to know. A thoughtful review based on firsthand experience adds credibility.
In general, a well-written review will be descriptive, clear, and concise. It should be neutral in tone. Unless your circumstances would be similar to other purchasers, the review should not contain a lot of personal narrative (“while skiing in the mountains with my extended family for my 40th birthday…”). Most importantly, it should be product-specific.
A Structured Review Process
In a structured review, you would be evaluating a product against several criteria for the purpose of identifying what relevant information should be included in your review. During this product evaluation, compare the physical product and its performance to the product’s photos and description.
Because every product is different, you would only need to evaluate criteria that are relevant to that specific product. For example if you were reviewing cleaning gel, you can skip the evaluation of assembly instructions.
You don’t need to touch on every item in the list, instead you should focus on filling in the gaps; what information wasn’t listed in the product description that might have made you more or less likely to select this product. As you walk through the evaluation criteria, you can identify features and/or flaws that may be relevant to other purchasers.
- Appearance and Design
- User Experience and Performance
- Durability and Longevity
- Unique or Bonus Features
- Different Use Cases
- Review Summary
Appearance and Design
Is the product as described? This part is really about your first impression once you receive the physical product. Evaluate the product’s aesthetics. Include notable details about colors, materials, build quality, and any unique design elements.
- Make note if a color is supposed to be blue but looks more like purple.
- Stamps should be present for solid or plated jewelry.
- Does the housing seem flimsy or durable?
- If the product looks “cheap”, explain why (again, avoid vague descriptors).
- If the product description says it’s 10 inches tall by 3 inches wide, if the physical product falls short that should be mentioned.
Test how well the product performs its intended function. Provide real-world examples of its usage and highlight any standout features and how they positively or negatively contribute to its overall functionality
- Do zippers glide smoothly?
- Ease of access to control panels.
- Does the lid stay on securely?
- Are straps easily adjustable?
- If it’s meant to be eaten, how is the taste and texture.
- If it’s a topical or skin product, how does it smell and how well does it absorb?
User Experience and Performance
Assess the product’s performance in various aspects, such as ease of use, efficiency, and durability. Describe the user interface and your overall user experience. Include information about product setup, assembly, and any challenges faced during use. Mention anything that would typically be
- Were the assembly instructions informative or lacking?
- Were all the necessary parts included?
- If programmable, does it memorize or lose all those custom settings if it loses power?
- Did pre-drilled holes line up?
- Is there anything specific you had to do in order to get it working properly that wasn’t addressed in the directions?
Durability and Longevity
Assess the product’s durability and how well it holds up over time. Mention any concerns regarding longevity.
- How did the fabric color hold up after being washed?
- Did anything stretch, break or come loose after a few uses?
- How well are the seams sown?
- Do latches or buckles close securely?
- Did the surface scratch easily?
Unique or Bonus Features
Here is where you might give a shout out to features that weren’t listed in the product’s description but are worthy of a mention.
- An article of clothing that’s reversible.
- Extra long outlet cord length.
- Metal zippers (versus plastic)
Different Use Cases
Everyone loves product hacks. If there’s an alternate use that might benefit others, it’s worth a mention.
- Resistance exercise bands can double as luggage belts.
- A toiletry bag that worked even better for organizing nail polish.
- An elevated dog feeder that looks great as a plant stand.
- A grill cover that fits snugly over a riding lawn mower.
- A product-specific power adapter that works with several other products
Photos can be helpful to show how you put a product to use. They can also provide product angles that weren’t included in the product photos. A photo can also show how big a product actually is when compared to another common object such as a hand or ruler. Here are some suggestions for taking photos to be used in reviews.
- Show angles that aren’t visible in the product photos (back and underneath of product, a closeup of controls or specifications, etc)
- Show closeups of product issues
- Show the product in use, as appropriate (a shelf hung on a wall, an installed light fixture, replaced luggage wheels)
- If the product is a replacement part, it’s helpful to see it next to the original OEM part it is replacing.
- Don’t show any personally identifying content in the photo
- Avoid photos that have a lot of background distractions (Yes, you really should pick up your dirty laundry, clean your dishes, or straighten up your living room if it’s going to be in the background)
Once you’ve completed your review evaluation, you should have a good idea of what aspects of that specific product are important for others to know. The review doesn’t have to be lengthy. List the product’s strengths and weaknesses. Be honest and specific, and use bullet points for easy readability. You could opt to break down your review into a list of Pros and Cons.
Now having said all that, you should know that some of the best reviews we’ve seen were less than a paragraph long and pointed out a single key benefit or primary flaw of a product. Simple and concise product-specific details, with just enough information to decide whether it was worth buying.
What to avoid
- The obvious! If product specifications are already listed in the product description and they are accurate, you’re just being repetitive by generically mentioning them in your review. Don’t just regurgitate the product title and description.
- Don’t complain about something that was clearly listed in the description or photo, unless you feel it was intentionally deceptive. If the photo makes the product look huge even though the description clearly states its size, it’s fair to mention the disparity between the photo and description. If the product description of a shelf clearly states the item is 4 inches deep but it wasn’t deep enough to hold your speakers, that’s not relevant to the product review.
- Don’t use vague descriptors. I really liked the fabric. Why? Was it well woven, does it clean easily, is the pattern clearly printed?
- Avoid repeating what other reviewers have already addressed.
- Avoid making medical claims. Maybe you think that vitamin supplement made you healthier, but unless you’re running FDA-approved clinical trials you have no way of proving it.
- Unless you are doing the review as a product comparison, avoid comparing it to other products. Your review should be specific to this product. Buyers want to know if they should or shouldn’t buy this specific product.
- Mentioning the price is rarely helpful because online prices change all the time and sellers routinely add/remove discounts and coupons. The price you see this week will probably not be the price others see next month.
What if there’s really not much to be said?
So, you’re reviewing a red silicone kitchen funnel. The funnel’s product description says it’s 4 inches long, red, and made of silicone. It all checks out; what’s left to be said?
In this case, you might want to share whether the silicone is thick enough to keep the funnel shape or does it flop onto itself. Maybe mention capacity: the opening was large enough to hold a full cup of flour. Perhaps there’s a design element that could be improved: the tapered end was very narrow and sugar kept getting stuck.
When there’s not much that can be reviewed, focus on the pros and cons of its design and functionality.
Last but not least, Provide updates
- Did those sheets begin to pill after their second wash, or maybe they got softer?
- Did half the solar lights in a pack of 10 stop working after two weeks, or have they been trouble-free after 6 months?
- Is the non-stick coating in the frying pan still holding up after months of daily use or has it began to chip?
Providing honest updates on a product’s durability months later can greatly increase the chances that your review will get up-voted as helpful. Most importantly, product updates