I have been looking for a WordPress ratings and review plugin for my websites, and have tested out 4 on my website hosting section of one of my sites. Even though that plugin is still one of the better plugins for this type of site, I actually do have a newer favourite since this review was originally written. Overall now, this review includes 5 Ratings & Review plugins for WordPress. The 5 WordPress Ratings plugins that I tested are:
- GD Star Rating
- Rating Review System
- WP Review Engine
- WP Review Site
- My Review Plugin
These five seemed to have all the features I needed, namely the ability of visitors to leave ratings and reviews in the comments section of the post, as well as being able to display summary charts showing which host (in this case) got the best average visitor rating.
I installed all 5 plugins on the site, one at a time, and tried to set them up as described above.
Here are my observations on each of the plugins:
The GD Star ratings have strikingly good graphics, and this plugin is also free. The real problem with it is that it is so complicated to use and the tutorials are not very well organised. Since this is a plugin that is in development, I would think that the author(s) will sort out the help system eventually. Unfortunately I could not find the information I wanted, so moved onto the next plugin. If you have a little more free time to explore this plugin, I am sure that it would be a good choice.
I was sent this plugin by the author to review, and after reading the information on the plugin, I was excited about the features. However, there was a problem. The plugin is ioncube encoded, and despite installing a local copy of ioncube on my server, the plugin would still not work properly. The tech guys from the Rating Review system plugin had a look, and they told me the problem was ioncube not being installed correctly, however, the ioncube test script said it was.
Unfortunately, since I could not get this plugin to work on my server, I had to move onto the next plugin. However, the authors of this plugin do offer a free trial, so you can test it for yourself to see if it works for you. I did incidentally try it on a second server with a different web host and it worked fine. However, the sites I wanted to use it on are hosted with the other host.
3. WP Review Site by Dan Grossman
WARNING: Do not buy this plugin without reading this.
This plugin looked perfect, and it is not encoded like the last one. Because i wanted to use it on multiple sites, I paid $199 for a multi site license. What a waste of money that turned out to be.
I installed the plugin on my web hosting category over at ezseonews.com, and that’s when the problems began. My server would return errors when trying to login to the dashboard, or switch to any page within the dashboard if I was lucky enough to get in. I disabled all plugins, and went in and enabled them one by one. The Ratings and review plugin was the one that kept causing the crash. Was it incompatible with other plugins I am using? It certainly seems that way on my server. I had to disabled a social bookmarking plugin to get the review plugin to work, and even then, I had problems approving comments. I’d click the approve button, but the comments would stay pending.
This plugin just didn’t work on my site / server. I contacted Dan about a refund only to be told:
“There is no refund policy as I have no way to keep you from using the plugin once you have it.
WP Review Site is in use by over 1,200 people right now and I have only ever heard of a conflict with another star ratings plugin. I would be happy to help you fix your site”
I appreciate the offer of help to fix my site, but I just want a plugin that works out of the box and does what it is supposed to do. I resent having paid $199 for something I cannot use. The fact there is no trial of the plugin meant I could not try before I bought it.
So that’s $199 wasted – buyer beware if you are thinking of buying this plugin. If anyone wants to buy my copy, let me know 🙂
WP Review Engine was the last plugin I tried in the original review (and quickly became my favourite at the time), and I then stopped looking as it was perfect for my needs, and even had a really cool feature that I have not seen in the other plugins. The plugin is by a guy called Louis who has helped me a couple of times with queries via email.
Best part of all, this plugin actually does come with a refund policy, so if you find it does not work for some reason, Louis promises to refund your money.
Besides the refund policy, this plugin is actually cheaper than Dan Grossman's plugin. That’s a double bonus.
I should tell you that not everything went smoothly with the installation.
This plugin is encoded with ioncube (before you grown, read on). When I installed the plugin, I got the ioncube errors as expected. In the documentation Louis says that if you have a problem with ioncube, he’ll send you an unencoded version. True to his word, he sent me the unencoded version which worked perfectly first time.
However, just to test I installed a local version of ioncube, and the encoded plugin worked fine.
So basically, if you have to install ioncube (some hosts have it installed already) you can choose to ask Louis for unencoded versions of the plugin instead.
OK, now let’s look at the plugin features.
The plugin comes with a couple of ready made WordPress templates. However, since I wanted to install it into an existing site, I wanted to manually integrate it. This was fairly easy, with options in the Dashboard for installing the plugin into any template. I did make a few template changes to customise the look, but overall the process was painless.
You can see the plugin working on the website hosting section of my ezseonews.com site. Feel free to try it out by reviewing your host 🙂
Here is a short video showing you around that section of my site. It shows how the section on my site looks after integration, and I have to say, I love it.
Here are some of the features of the WP Review Engine plugin:
- You can integrate the plugin into any theme very easily by checking a few boxes in the Dashboard. You can also tweak things if you prefer by including API calls within your templates.
- When a visitor leaves a review, they can rate the various aspects of the product (that you have defined for that product) and their ratings are embedded in the comment. Here is a screenshot of a comment.
- You have Editor ratings included in the plugin (this is an optional extra in some other plugins) so that you can just review a product and have your verdict shown and not those of your visitors.
- When you create a post, you simple select which (if any) rating categories to show with the post. You can also specify an affiliate URL and a graphic that can be displayed in the ratings tables.
- The Comparison tables can order the product reviews however you want. You can also customise the look and feel of this table if you know a little PHP. The ratings tables can be embedded in the homepage and/or category pages. If its embedded in the homepage, it displays the ratings from the entire site. If its embedded in the category page, it shows the ratings from within that category. Watch the video above if that’s confused you.
- A really cool feature is the ability to integrate Google Maps into the review. For example, if you had a local website with reviews of restaurants in your area, you could include a Google map pinpointing the location of the restaurant. This could be a very good way to get local businesses to advertise on your site 🙂
- On feature I didn’t use, and recommend you don’t either, is to auto-generate comments. With the recent FTC clampdown, this would not be a good feature to use.
- A very good feature however is the ability to import databases into your site. Imagine getting a product feed for your niche and being able to import that feed into your site. You’d have an instant website with hundreds or even thousands of products.
- Widgets for top rated posts and most recent comments. This means you can easily integrate this information into your WordPress sidebars.
- hReview is a system that Google can use to display the ratings within the search results. Here is an example of how my page might look in the search results:
See the stars and the number of reviews. This type of inclusion in the search results can really make your listing pop out. I love the feature, and think that the whole plugin is just very very cool and worth every cent.
When I needed help, Louis replied via email within 48 hours, and he even supplied me with some code to help me with one part of the integration.
If you are looking for a WordPress ratings and review plugin, this is the one I recommend. Not only is it reasonably priced, but support is good and there is a refund policy if you find it doesn’t work (though if it works on my host, it should work on any).
You can currently buy WP Review Engine with a 15% discount if you use the following coupon: ypincluded
My Review Plugin includes just about everything that the other plugins have. I’ll list the ones I have used below:
* Setup rating categories, and have rating boxes automatically added to the comments form of your WordPress site so that those who leave a comment can also rate the product.
* Commentors ratings are added into their comments. There is also the option of showing a “Was this review helpful” voting system.
* Editor ratings – you can review the product and show your ratings for the product, or add your ranking into the average generated by your visitors. This is a very flexible system.
* When you have ratings on multiple products, you can insert “league tables” showing those with the higher rankings. These tables can be auto-inserted into the homepage or category pages. If you have a category e.g. on Zanussi dishwashers, then all Zanussi dishwashers in that category will be competing for the league table on the Zanussi category page. On the homepage, the league table will comprise the products from all categories. This is really useful for your visitors. These tables are customisable and look really cool.
A Horizontal Ratings Table:
.. and a Vertical Ratings Table:
* Include thumbnail images with your reviews that can be inserted into the comparison tables.
* Flexible rating systems – 5 stars, 10 stars, letter grades, percentages, pass/fail, etc.
* Bayseian weighting – takes into account the number of ratings as well as the score to decide which are the best products for your comparison tables.
* Disable ratings on certain posts and pages, easily. This way you can have ratings only in certain categories of your site (and even then, not all posts in the category).
* Auto insert “Buy Now” (or create your own button) buttons into the post that link to your affiliate URL (that you enter into the Dashboard).
* Rating tables can be inserted into each post, showing the average ratings for that particular product.
* Google maps integration which is great if you are running a local services site.
* Supports microformats like hReview, hProduct and RDFa Review Integration.
* One click upgrade from other review plugins like WP Review Engine, WP REview Site etc. I haven’t tried this or seen where in the plugin this feature is, I am quoting the sales page here.
* Support has been excellent and timely. Mark (the developer) quickly answered my questions.
This plugin has so many cool features that I haven’t done it justice in this very quick overview. This plugin has become my favourite because, after several upgrades to my previous favourite (WP Review Engine) that one seemed to be causing me more and more problems with some of my WordPress templates (namely Thesis). I am happy to announce that new sites I am building with Thesis 1.7 and My Review Plugin are working out of the box and looking great.
The Best WordPress Ratings & Review Plugin in my opinion?