How to Create a Review Site Using Extra from Elegant Themes

by Jun 23, 2017Design Elements2 comments

When most people consider buying something they usually search for reviews online. For many products there simply aren’t enough reviews, or not detailed enough reviews, to help readers make an informed decision. This opens an opportunity to create your very own product review website. Fortunately, Elegant Themes’ Extra is the perfect theme to create a product review site.

Product reviews are a great way to bring in traffic and help establish your credibility. They even let you talk about things you like and bring in some extra cash through affiliate programs. In this article we’ll discuss how to build a review site using Extra, how to develop your own review structure, and look at some examples. I’ve also included some tips that I’ve learned from my many years of reviewing products (I even use Extra for my review site).

In this article I’ll provide mock reviews of laptops. Images are taken from Unsplash.com.

Extra’s Homepage Builder

Extra has a built in review system allowing you to develop your own review structure, give each item within the structure a score, and Extra calculates a total score automatically. Extra can be used as an online magazine or a blog.

The homepage needs to be designed so that categories are easy to find. Extra has a great system for building homepages designed around categories, which in turn highlight your product reviews. Products can be placed within their categories in tabbed boxes, sliders, or individual posts. Extra excels at product categories because of the layouts and modules within the Category Builder.

Category Builder

The Category Builder uses the Divi Builder and is unique to Extra (in the dashboard, go to Extra and select Category Builder). This is the Divi Builder with a special library of layouts and modules. It has several layouts that are great for getting started with a homepage including blogs and magazines.

The Category Builder has several modules that highlight your posts. Modules include:

  • Featured Posts Slider
  • Posts Carousel
  • Tabbed Posts
  • Posts
  • Text
  • Ads
  • Code
  • Image
  • Blog Feed Masonry
  • Blog Feed Standard

These can be used to create category layouts with sections that focus on specific products. Once you’ve created your layout select to use the layout as the homepage under Layout Usage on the right of the screen.

Developing Your Review Structure

A review needs to be structured so that it tells the information in a scanable way that’s easy to follow and makes sense for the product. Typically, the sections of the review are the major features of the product. It’s a good idea to browse through your favorite review sites and structure your reviews similarly.

Sites that have a nice review structure include:

A good overall structure might look like this:

  • Pros
  • Cons
  • Bottom line / verdict
  • Introduction
  • First feature
  • Second feature
  • Third feature
  • Comparisons
  • Conclusion

The Review Layout

The review itself needs to be easy to follow. It will discuss the major points of the product, a few minor points, performance, provide comparisons and example uses, and then have a conclusion with recommendation. Also provide a link where they can make a purchase as your call to action.

The review should be easy to follow and scan, helping readers to quickly find the information they’re looking for. This is done by giving each major point its own section heading. H2 is a good choice to divide the sections. For example, if a reader looking at a laptop review is more interested in the gaming performance of a graphics chipset than the battery life, they should be able to find it just by scanning the page.

Of course there’s more than one way to structure a product review. I recommend experimenting with structures that you like and see what works the best for you and your audience. Divi Leads is a great tool for testing article structure elements. I recommend creating several templates that you can save to the library.

Using Media

For the typical product, media such as images, and possibly videos, can be an essential part of the review. Usually, an image for each major feature is all that’s needed. You might not want to cover every feature because your content could end up being filled with information and images that your audience doesn’t need. Save images with the name of the product. This helps with SEO and for image searches.

It’s a balancing game to find the exact amount of images to include. On one hand you want to include enough images to give your readers the information they need to make a decision. On the other hand you want your content to look clean and neat, and to load fast as possible. Fewer images that look amazing are better than a lot of images that look bad.

If you need a lot of images then consider using a gallery. This would allow you to display a single image for each section of the review, keeping the overall look uncluttered, and your readers could see more images if they want.

Using Extra’s Review System

Extra has a review system built in that allows you to define your own review elements and give each review item a score. From this score it calculates a final score for you. The scoring system shows a graph that appears below the article’s content and places the overall score on the post in the homepage.

To create the scoring structure, look at the major features of the product and then add the features that matter the most to your audience. Also consider including those that you get a lot of questions about.

Going back to our example of reviewing laptops, you might want to score items such as:

  • Construction
  • Battery life
  • Screen clarity
  • Keyboard responsiveness
  • Performance
  • Features
  • Software
  • Warranty
  • Value

Once you’ve determined your review structure type the items into their own Breakdown boxes. Click Add Breakdown to add a new review element. You can add as many items as you want and delete them if you decide you don’t need them. Create as many elements you need but keep is as simple as you can.

 

Each of the review items in this example have been given an individual score and they combine to create an overall score. Each of these elements should have information within the review itself. For example, I’ve given Keyboard Responsiveness an 84%. The review should talk about the keyboard responsiveness, explaining what I liked and didn’t like about it. You might also consider explaining your rating system on an About page.

Extra’s Sidebar Widget

Extra comes with a review widget to show your latest reviews. It shows the title of the articles and a bar chart with the final score of the review. The post titles are clickable links. You can choose the number of reviews to show.

Examples

Review – a Child Theme for Extra

To see an excellent example of review site using Extra, let’s look at a child theme from Michelle Nunan called Review.

This is a child theme that’s made specifically to be a review magazine. The homepage layout includes:

  1. Hero image banner with animation
  2. Menu that stays on screen after scroll
  3. Product slider
  4. Top picks slider
  5. Tabbed posts
  6. Posts
  7. Footer with social follow, recent reviews, reviewers, affiliate disclaimer

The sidebar includes:

  1. Recent reviews
  2. Search
  3. Recent posts
  4. Categories
  5. Login

The review structure steps the reader through the product and its features in a real-world environment. It’s visually appealing, switching between text and imagery while remaining relevant.

Bible Buying Guide – My Own Review Site Made with Extra

I’ve ran Bible Buying Guide since 2011. It started with Elegant Theme’s Delicate News and I changed it to Extra a few months after it released. It’s gone through a few layout changes since moving to Extra. The current form displays a post slider with a single post followed by the most recent posts in a two-column blog layout and a sidebar. It uses the rating’s system so readers can rate my articles and the trending bar so readers can know what the most popular articles are.

Tips for Writing Reviews

It’s a good idea to analyze reviews and see what works and what doesn’t. Utilize the good practices in your own reviews and avoid the bad practices. Look at what engages the audience compared to what turns them off.

For example, how many times have you seen reviews like this?

  • I bought it for my grandson and he loves it
  • Too large
  • Too small
  • Too heavy
  • Fast shipping
  • Not as advertised
  • Exactly as advertised
  • Didn’t work

I’ve seen these very same comments on the exact same product. This is conflicting information and doesn’t really give the potential buyer the information they need about the product.

I’m sure your grandson told you he loves it. The question is why does he love it? Does he love it because you gave it to him? What about it makes me think I will love it?

‘Too heavy’ is subjective. What is it too heavy for? Holding in one hand for three hours? Carrying in a backpack? Sitting on your lap? Be specific and give the weight. Your readers can decide if it’s too heavy for them or not. If you think it’s too heavy for you, tell why it’s too heavy. Your readers can relate to you and this will help them to know if the weight works for them.

The same goes for the size. Rather than saying it’s too small, tell the size and the let the reader decide for themselves of it’s too small or not. The shipping doesn’t tell me anything about the product itself. The fact that a product didn’t work may not be a reflection on the product itself.

Be completely honest about the product. If there’s something you don’t like then tell that you don’t like it, but also be specific and tell why you don’t like it. You owe it to your audience to tell both the good and the bad. If they buy a product and you haven’t told them about a glaring negative then they will feel cheated and you will lose trust – and trust takes time to build.

For extensive products don’t try to cover everything. It doesn’t have to thoroughly cover every single minor feature. For example, in a product such as Photoshop your readers just want the basics that set it apart from the others.

A review has to answer the question of why or why not. Why should I buy this? What are the benefits if I do? What am I missing out on if I don’t? Is there a better choice? Will this product suit my needs? If you get a lot of questions about a certain feature or aspect of a product then include that information in your reviews.

Be consistent and realistic in your ratings. Determine what is worthy of a specific rating and rate accordingly. If everything is 5/5-star then the rating loses its value.

Supplement your reviews with information that your audience will care about. This brings them back and ensures that you’ll always have content that they need. This can be anything from tips to using their products, to accessories, to gift ideas. Other articles could include Top 10, Best of, etc., and could cover multiple products within the same article. They could even link back to the original reviews. Review related products. Laptops and lawn mowers are not a good match, but laptops and tablets are.

Establish your credibility as a reviewer by being completely honest. Know the products well. Don’t review products you’ve not seen in person or used yourself. Use your experience with the product to develop authority. Develop your own style and opinions. Readers will know they can trust your opinions and you’ll be able to answer their questions.

Don’t recommend products just for their affiliate links. Your audience will realize your bias and you’ll lose credibility. Don’t give a shining review just because you got the product for free. Readers will catch on to this and will question your motives. This will reduce your credibility and authority in your industry.

Show pros and cons – not just pros. This way you won’t come across as a pushy salesman. Be realistic in how the product works and the problems it solves. Don’t fall into the “as seen on TV” line of sales tactics where no one in the world can possibly crack open an egg without getting it all over their kitchen until they use this product.

Tell who you think the product is best suited for and why you think they would benefit from it the most. If possible show examples of the product being used.

Find a niche with products you love and an audience interested in those products. Don’t try to niche it down too much. If your goal is to make money then make sure there are plenty of affiliate programs. It’s difficult to write about products you don’t care for and it’s discouraging to write about products that you love but there isn’t a large enough audience to keep the site going. Use tools such Google’s Keyword Planner to find niches and products that potential readers are searching for.

Write clearly and concisely but don’t worry about perfection. Aim high. Develop and write for a large audience.

Making Money with Reviews

It’s possible to make money from your review site, but don’t expect to make fast money. If that’s your goal then I wouldn’t advise starting a review website as it can take months, or even years, to bring in enough traffic to make money.

There are several ways to make money from your review site. Here’s a look at the most popular methods.

Affiliate Programs – When someone buys through your link you get a portion of the sale. Many online retailers have affiliate programs. This is one of the most popular ways to make money online. Many retailers pay around 5% while other programs pay up to 50%.

Ads – Ads are another popular way to bring in revenue. Make sure ads are relevant to your audience and topic. The typical ad pays by the click or by the number of views, so to make good money from ads you’ll need lots of traffic.

Sponsored Posts – Companies will pay you to write about their products or services. Just like any review you must be honest in showing both the pros and the cons or your readers will not trust your opinions.

Selling Products – Add a store to your website. If you do you’ll have to be extra careful to be as thorough as possible in your reviews or your readers will assume you’re just trying to make a sale. I don’t recommend selling review copies that you’ve gotten for free.

Disclosures

The Federal Trade Commission has specific requirements for bloggers when discussing products. Be sure to disclose if you’ve gotten a free review copy, have affiliate links, etc., in order to comply with Federal regulations. The laws do change from time to time, so be sure to check ever so often to ensure you’re following the rules. 

Final Thoughts

Reviewing products is a great way to establish your authority in an industry and increase your income. Developing a review site is not that difficult when using themes such as Extra. Extra includes a review system with title, summary, total score, bar charts, and total scores on posts and in the sidebar. Extra makes it easy to develop your review system and the Category Builder is great for developing a homepage that includes your reviews or is built around your reviews.

Extra is part of Elegant Themes’ subscription.

Have you developed a review website using Extra’s review system? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

Featured image from Michelle Nunan’s Extra child theme Review.