8 WordPress Themes And Plugins For Creating A Review Site

Are you interested in starting or sprucing up a review site?

Perhaps it’s for pleasure – you’re the kind of a person who feels that urge to share your opinion on you favorite restaurant, movie or game – or maybe it’s for profit but whatever your motivation, building a review site with WordPress is within the reach of even the most novice of WordPress users.

Here’s 8 WordPress themes and plugins to help you on your way to review stardom.

Composite image of table of reviews plus a 3 star rating
To get the best review site, you are going to need to pay

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Putting together a review site on WordPress is, on the surface at least, relatively straight forward: it’s just a matter of picking the right theme, plugin or both.

Rather than providing a massive list of options for you to trawl through, I’ve done that for you and arrived at 8 themes and plugins that will allow you to build a review site.

First the bad news. There’s only one freebie here and that’s a plugin, the rest you will need to spend some of your hard-earned cash. I looked for free themes and plugins and all bar the WordPress Review Site Builder plugin weren’t up to scratch.

And whilst the free plugin is pretty good, the paid options are probably going to build you a better review site that is more engaging.

Things To Bear In Mind

Reviewing Paid-for Plugins Is About Trust

Obviously, when it comes to reviewing those products that are not free, there’s a strong reliance on demonstrations and trust in the supporting documentation and copy.

For themes, it is fairly easy to check the look and feel and how the theme works but for plugins this is much more difficult.

Support For Schema.org

Google likes and supports schema.org and so really every review site should be making sure that its reviews are marked up as per the Review schema.

If your reviews are marked up correctly then Google will show your listing in its search results with the rating, making it much more noticeable:

Screenshot of the IMDB entry in a Google search results page for the search term Casblanca
What? Only 8.6 for the greatest movie ever made?

In fact, this IMDb page is prime example of the use of multiple schemas, not just Review, so if you are interested have a look at it using Google’s Structured Data Tool.

Despite the obvious benefits in having reviews marked up, disappointingly, only one plugin and one theme supported the Review schema, so if you don’t pick these then be prepared to undertake some modifications to add this important feature (or hassle the developer) if you want to maximize your chances with the dominant search engine.

WordPress Review Themes

ProReview

pro_review

ProProview is my personal pick of the themes listed here in terms of look and features. It’s just a shame it is compromised by the lack of support for schema.org.

The layout has a familiar review look and feel, is clean and to the point and comes with some pretty nice features such as:

  • CNET style Editors and User ratings
  • Pros and Cons
  • Ratings by Feature
  • Ribbons (top rated, recommended, etc)
  • Top ratings widget
  • Review slider
  • Multiple layouts

The theme creates its own Review custom post type so there’s nothing else to add.

A quick and seemingly easy way to have a review site up and running with very little effort if you can live without the schema.org support.

Cost: $39 (single), $69 (multi), $119 (developer)

Swagger

swagger

Swagger from Industrial Themes is a comprehensive if overly busy theme which supports schema.org but is potentially let down by the lack of user ratings.

All the features that you’d expect with a great looking rating widget, Pros and Cons, a product overview as well as plenty of options for laying out on the article.

It doesn’t have user ratings which may be significant depending on your situation. It certainly seems to be an important omission given the general consensus is that allowing users to also rate considerably increases engagement.

Cost: $50 (single), $2500 (extended)

InReview

inreview

InReview is what you’d expect from Elegant Themes: clean and good looking.

That said, the home page layout is a little conservative and the theme doesn’t immediately project “review site!” in the same way that ProReview and Swagger do.

There’s also no support for schema.org.

What it does have is Author and User Ratings, feature ratings, a slider and a couple of the essential widgets. The theme also comes packed with ET’s range of shortcodes which provides considerable flexibility when laying out an article.

ET’s themes are always well-written and easy to use and you’ll have no problem setting up a review site with this theme. It’s lack of support for schema.org and it’s slightly understated look, though, do require careful consideration.

Cost: $39 (unlimited) *

* this is the yearly membership fee and provides access to all (currently 87) themes.

The Reviewer

thereviewer

The Reviewer from Design Crumb (via ThemeForest) is aimed more at entertainment reviews and provides a clean, if uninspiring, look with plenty of features.

Quite why this theme is entertainment only isn’t clear. The theme appears to include entertainment-related taxonomies (and the display of reviews based on those taxonomies) but the features list makes no mention of this.

What is does mention is recent ratings and featured reviewer widgets, shortcodes and social networks.

The theme doesn’t support user ratings nor does it support schema.org.

A good option, especially for those that want an entertainment review site and are not concerned about getting user ratings.

Cost: $45 (single)

Smart Reviewer

smartreviewer

Smart Reviewer from Umbrella Web uses a Pinterest-style layout to get plenty of reviews on the home page.

It has all the basic functions you’d expect including ribbons, user ratings, affiliate links and provides three really useful widgets for similar, best and latest reviews.

Also in its favor is the excellent documentation.

However, it does not support feature ratings. Nor does it support schema.org which pulls the rug a little from the claim that the theme is “SEO optimized”.

The copy claiming compatibility to WP 3.6 also dents the confidence.

This theme is definitely for those wanting that Pinterest look and feel.

Cost: $47 (developer licence)*

*could not find details on this licence

WE Review

wereview

WE Review (via WP Eden) has a focussed look and feel that strikes the right balance of content and whitespace – even the slider works!

The theme isn’t standalone and requires the WordPress Review Site Builder plugin (available on the WP Plugin Repository). Such separation of visual from coding will please the purists.

Together they provide feature rating, user rating (although only individual ratings not overall) and a top-rated widget.

There’s no support for schema.org.

Cost: $32 (single), $55 (developer)

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WordPress Review Plugins

WordPress Review Site Builder

wpreviewsitebuilder

A free plugin from the makers of WE Themes that adds a review custom content type to the WordPress admin interface.

The Review edit interface allows a separate review title and description to be set along with an affiliate link, price, editor rating and a ribbon.

Feature ratings can also be easily added.

The plugin provides two shortcodes: wp_review to list all reviews in a tabular format and all_reviews to list the views in a Pinterest style.

The plugin will work with any theme as it also provides its own templates for the review listings and review detail although there are no widgets.

A solid plugin that provides what you’d need for a basic review site and you can’t argue with the price.

Cost: FREE

MyReviewPlugin

mypluginreview

UPDATE: A couple of readers have raised concerns about this plugin regarding bugs and support. Whilst, at present, we can’t verify these concerns it is certainly the case that major WordPress host, WP Engine, has disallowed the use of this plugin. All-in-all it seems reasonable to exercise caution when considering this plugin.

This is a comprehensive plugin and is the only product, both theme and plugin, that promotes the fact that it supports schema.org with both support for both hReview and RDFa Review.

The plugin is aimed at adding reviews to existing content types. For site owners this is achieved through “editor ratings” whilst on the user side it’s achieved via adding rating ability to comments.

It actually allows for feature rating by users which is a nice touch.

Other features include the selection of how to rate (stars, letter grades, percentage), post order control, comparison tables (vertical and horizontal), “was this review helpful?”, Google Maps integration, two widgets and one-click embedding.

Add to this an apparent “set up a full site in one click” and 8 built in themes and the plugin seems to be pretty good value for money even at the above average cost.

There’s a good list of sites using the plugin on the website.

Cost: $90 (single), $130 (unlimited)

WP Reviews

wp-review

WP Reviews from Author HReview is a premium product that provides good looking reviews that comply with the review schema.

The plugin adds a new Reviews option to the admin interface and has a strong focus on generating Google-friendly formats. It even has the link to the structured data testing tool and actively encourages the testing of its reviews. (They pass with flying colors, by the way).

The plugin provides author ratings and user ratings and, in fact, allows users to provide their own reviews both overall and by feature. It also includes the ability to create galleries and YouTube videos.

Three shortcodes provide the ability to embed a single review, a list of reviews and related reviews in a post, whilst three widgets provide options for embedding reviews and review listings directly into your theme.

WP Review works by adding metaboxes to the post type. My preference is for custom post types as I think it provides more flexibility but, that said, WP Review looks to be a comprehensive plugin with good-looking, clean output that would integrate well with most themes.

NOTE: You can download the related hReview plugin from the WordPress repository. This is a much simpler plugin that is focussed on providing a summary ratings box that is automatically displayed on a post page. This plugin is fine for adding very simple reviews.

Cost: $69* (single site), $139 (multiple sites)

* includes access to all plugins and SIX months support and upgrades. Additional support can be purchased in blocks of six months for $29.

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The Pick Of The Bunch?

UPDATE: When I originally wrote this post, my pick was MyReviewPlugin. However, thanks to reader input – more proof, if we needed it, of the value of comments – there’s enough doubt about this plugin for it not to be the pick. In particular, it’s appearance on WP Engine’s disallowed plugin list is obviously a major concern given WP Engine’s reputation.

All the plugins and themes have their pros and cons and so there is no obvious choice. I would have picked Pro Review but for its lack of support for the review schema – an essential feature for any review site.

The strongest candidate, then, is the reader-suggested plugin, WP Reviews, particularly as it is highly focussed on ensuring that the reviews are review schema compliant. The use of custom fields rather than a custom post type is a drawback although if you’re building a dedicated review site then this will be less of a concern.

The payment structure, with support and updates only available in six month blocks rather than the more common 12 months is food for thought, though, as is how easy it may be to change the layout of the output.

Have you built a review site using any of these products? In particular, have you used the MyReviewPlugin? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

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Comments (26)

    • Thanks for the heads-up, Suraj.

      I’ve had a play with WP-Review and it seems to do a simple task – adding review capabilities to a post – very well but I’m not sure I’d use it to build a review site.

      I like its support for the review schema but not using a custom content type does limit the flexibility somewhat. There are also no shortcodes or widgets.

      Best suited for adding reviews to a site that has plenty of non-review content, perhaps?

  1. Hi Chris, and thanks for a good roundup of review possibilities. Since you mentiones Elegant themes, I think Nexus (http://elegantthemes.com/preview/Nexus/) is a more contemporary choice. Also take a look at CSSIgniters theme Neuton (http://www.cssigniter.com/ignite/themes/neuton/).
    But I wonder, could you make a good review plugin with some tweaks on the wpmudev´s plugin “custom press”? And also include support for schema.org?

    I always enjoy your posts here at wpmu, and sometimes I give your weekend projects a try. But still a novice, they sometime get too tecky for me ;-)
    As a freelance start-up I would love to have a review of freelance management plugins, handling client & project management, invoices, expences and payment etc.

    • Both nice themes and would work in the context of a review site if you don’t mind integrating a review plugin in or building your own.

      A DIY review plugin is a nice idea – I’ll add it to the list :)

  2. Hello there, this is a one nice collection of quality review themes and plugins! Thanks!

    I am looking for a few WordPress bloggers/professional online marketers to beta-test and review my review/affiliate plugin, that I call “AffiGet”.

    The killer feature?

    AffiGet comes with a powerful bookmarklet, which allows you to hand-pick products on Amazon site and post reviews to your blog without having to leave Amazon!

    To my knowledge, no other review/affiliate plugin provides such a streamlined and natural experience.

    A tentative price is $95 for a 5-site license. And a free version is in the works! For more information, please visit http://affiget.com

    This might read like a blatant promotion, but I firmly believe that my plugin will be of value to all your readers who want to build a professional review site on WordPress.

    Thanks! @SaruTole

  3. Just a warning about MyReviewPlugin. I thought I found the best plugin for reviews/ratings, but the developer of this plugin is completely unreachable – despite how convincing the website is that they have great support.

    There are lots of bugs that haven’t been fixed, and I had to open a dispute claim with PayPal to get a refund (which I eventually did).

    It’s really a shame because the plugin has so much potential.

  4. Thank you for the comparisons, I have a review site to do shortly, and never look forward to going through comparing what is available as a starting point, I think that it is crazy that Review Plugin can not have schema markup, I guess that whatever I use I will end up customizing but I would have thought that markup was a given.
    I do have place and event review sites that are marked up as schema correctly and it does not mean that Google will display the review stars etc. just because it is marked up correctly.
    As a tool demo sites should be checked with the Google tool.
    http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets
    Thank you again Chris
    Tim

  5. MyReviewPlugin is broken and has been abandoned by the developer. It promises the world, but the only thing it delivers is frustration and the loss of your money. Just check the reader comments on this old review here: http://winkpress.com/review-site/myreviewplugin/

    I highly recommend as a service to your readers that WPMU remove any mention of this plugin. Your readers will pay their good money for it only to find out it is broken, offers no support and no way to get their money back despite the 45 day “money back guarantee”. Congratulations to @threeaz for getting a refund. I had no such luck.

    It is sad that the payment processing still works for anyone trying to purchase it. Somebody is getting other people’s money for this knowing that it’s a lemon. DON’T BUY IT!

    WPMU: this plugin is a ripoff, please save your readers the trouble and make a correction to your review.

    • Ted, thanks for your comment – reader comments often add real value to these types of posts.

      We’ll certainly follow-up on your issues with the MyReviewPlugin.

      As I mentioned in the article, reviews of paid products have to be on the information available so there is a certain level of trust.

      • Hi Chris,
        Thanks for your response and for agreeing to put up a revision that points out the problems of MyReviewPlugin. Too many people have been ripped off from it.

        Because of my experience with it, I now do a better job for myself of researching and selecting plugins. It’s on me to try to verify their claims and who they are. For example, I now might either ask a presale question directly to the developer and check their support forums for recent posts. There’s also a nice site by Jay Hoffman called TidyRepo.com in which he lists several plugins he’s researched and vetted. I find that site a good starting point.

        Thanks again for responding. Maybe search engines will pick up this article and save people the trouble and money of dealing with MyReviewPlugin.

  6. Thank you Chris,
    very appropriate for me as it happens! I registered a domain name over 6 months ago with the intention of building a review site.
    I’d already thought that WP was the obvious choice to power it. But in reality when I started looking deeper into getting it going I got lost in just how to achieve the goal. The project got shelved and I moved on. Today that has been revived by your reviews so thank you. I just have to weigh up if I want to go with a $90 punt on the best of the bunch, or try a half cocked effort with a lesser or free jobbie!
    Regards
    david

  7. @ted_oehmke8 Just read your post – thanks for the tip off. Was considering it but looking again now.

    On another note – Why don’t wpmudev take up the challenge and do a review theme/plugin of their own?

  8. MyReviewPlugin has been abandoned by its developer, the last update was over a year ago. It was slowing our site way down and creating a lot of errors, so we had to delete it.

    There are many reports across the web of it having problems and consuming a lot of resources. In fact, WPEngine bans it for excessive resource usage – http://support.wpengine.com/disallowed-plugins/.

    I agree with previous posters that you are doing yourself and your readers a great disservice by recommending this plugin.

    • That’s interesting that WP Engine have banned it.

      OK, so I”m going to update the article and include the warnings about MyReviewPlugin (I think it’s more useful to keep that sort of information in the article than remove all reference to it).

        • The free version (hReview) is very basic and not really a consideration for building a full-blown review site. The premium WP Reviews plugin, however, looks pretty good.

        • As Chris said, the Free version of the plugin is very basic, however it works as it meant to be. However there are big differences I made in the Pro version.

          Here is a list of features that ships with the Pro version:

          1- half rating
          2- rating box templates (I am starting with 3 simple templates for now)
          3- control over what elements to show on the review box (button, date, reviewer name..etc)
          4- ability to change button text
          5- add images to the rating box
          6- add reviews on pages as well (free plugin only works on posts)
          7- new widget with product images (this plugin has two widgets)
          8- ability to sort reviews in widgets by rating value (example: Top Rated)
          9- option to remove rel=”nofollow” links
          10- display a list of all review “posts” in one page in WP dashboard
          11- shortcode to display rating box anywhere on the post/page
          12- shortcode to display related reviews
          13- shortcode to display recent reviews
          14- of course a lot of bug fixes and other enhancements!

          With all these features that plugin do not include user rating/reviews, here comes the WP Reviews plugin to help anyone to create a complete review site.

          Cheers!

  9. I set up Genesis Themes Guide with the intent to draw attention to and encourage user reviews of 3rd party Genesis child themes, and for that I’ve been using the Social Review Engine plugin by WP Social.

    For some reason, I can’t leave a link for it (I’ve put links in other comments without issue, but not for this one).

  10. Thanks for the post, I’m gonna try using WP reviews plugin.

    Anyway, I’m just curious Chris… how do you do the “feature plugin” blue box with dotted lines? Is there a plugin for it or instructions?

    thanks
    ming

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