Letting Shoppers Have Their Say: Adding Customer Reviews

Vangie Beal

Updated · May 27, 2008

While glossy product images and detailed descriptions can help promote your company and its products, nothing says “buy me” to a consumer more than knowing that others have bought and used the item and are happy with it.

Today’s savvy Internet shoppers often research products on the Web before making a purchase and look to customer reviews in doing so. Therefore it makes sense to add reviews to your site, or better yet, use them to replace the out-dated, half-believable testimonials posted on your Web shop’s “About Us” pages.

Not only can user reviews help increase sales, but as an added bonus, user reviews also freely create new keyword-focused content for your site that can give you a boost in search engine results. But how do you go about adding this function to your Web site? We’ll show you how. Many review systems are PHP scripts. PHP is a server-side scripting language that can be embedded directly into HTML Web pages. When the page is viewed, the Web server executes the code automatically, so visitors don’t need to install anything for the PHP script to run. To work, PHP must be installed on your server.

If you are unsure if PHP is on your servers, check with your ISP to find out, and it is, get the version information. Once that checks out, you’re ready to roll with reviews. Here are three PHP user-rating and review scripts that you can add to your own Web shop for under $100.

Five Star Review Script
The Five Star Review Script lets your site visitors read and write reviews for your products or services. It is a PHP/MYSQL/AJAX-based script that uses a layout similar to that of  Amazon. Visitors can rate a product on a scale of one to five stars, and also submit a commentary review for others to read. For shoppers, the interface is intuitive and a feature built into the latest version lets them log in without refreshing the page.

Five Star Review
Five Star Review Script

(Click for larger image.)

Web shop owners, on the other hand, will be happy that Five Star Review sends instant e-mail notifications as comments come in so they can be approved before being adding to the site. Other administrator options include the ability to delete or edit reviews, approve/un-approve reviews and add new items for review. It also works with Google Base and has administrative controls for managing Google AdSense Sharing. Five Star Reviews can be managed through a single file that controls the entire site layout. Other features of note include a “bad word” filter, which administrators can modify, an option for users to recommend a specific product to their friends and more.

The Five Star Review Script requires PHP4 and MYSQL to run. There are also several types of licenses to choose from, each offering updates and free e-mail and forum support. A leased license lets site owners use the software on one domain name for one year for a $50, one-time fee and $50 yearly. An owned license is a one-domain license that can be run indefinitely for $125, but has only one year of free updates. Additional yearly updates are $30. Five and 10 domain licenses, script installation and branding options that will remove the “Powered by Five Star Review” link are also available for purchase. You can see examples of how the Five Star Review is being used on the Kayak Fishing Stuff.com and Local Business Watch.com Web sites.

Star Rating System PRO
Star Rating System PRO, by GraFX Software Solutions, is a commercial  template-based PHP program that you can use on your product pages, community discussion forum, or just about anywhere on your Web site. Since Star Rating System PRO uses templates, it can be easily added to your site and no programming is required to get it up and running.

Star Rating PRO
Rating System PRO

(Click for larger image.)

Star Rating System PRO lets visitors add a rating using the terms Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor or Very Poor. Fields are provided to enter a name, e-mail address, URL and brief comments. When users visit a page with a rating, they can also see how many times the page was shown, the number of votes and the five-star rating.

For administrators and site owners, Star Rating System PRO utilizes an e-mail system to alert you to reviews, and you can even moderate the comment over e-mail. Other useful tools and features include a security verification image to help prevent spam, the ability to customize the number of reviews per page, the editing of comments and more.

PHP 4.3 and MySQL 3 or higher is required to run Star Rating System PRO. The cost to purchase is $29 and a brief online demo is available. The GraFX Web site also offers a valuable user discussion forum where you can post questions before purchasing or get help on editing the configuration in your own set-up. Examples of how this script is being used can be viewed on the ClickHereFree.com and Librariile Humanitas Web sites.

(Continue to Page 2 for ReviewPost PHP Pro)

  • Retail
  • Vangie Beal
    Vangie Beal

    Vangie is a freelance technology writer who covers Internet technologies, online business, and other topics for over 15 years. SEO Content Writer with high-quality organic search results. Professional freelance technology writer with over 15 years experience. - Understands the technology trends in SMB and Enterprise markets. - Proficient in email marketing and social media campaigns. - Trusted and respected voice in small business marketing via e-commerce. - Knowledgeable in how to incorporate sales initiatives and assets into articles or Web content. Experienced social media marketer. Specialties: SEO. Electronic commerce, small businesses, Internet. Computers, servers, networking. Computer science. Terms, terminology. Social media, email marketing. Mobile apps. Operating systems. Software and hardware. Interviews, tips, advice, guides and feature articles. Marketing, slideshows, how-to guides. Search engine tools.

    More Posts By Vangie Beal