The New Members Blog Series is a collection of blogs for new members to help them better understand the element14 roadtest program.
How should a roadtester write a roadtest review? What makes for a good review from the viewpoint of a roadtester. How should you structure a review? Do you required supplementary blogs linked to a review?
These questions are great. And for new members (and new roadtesters) it can be a challenge to understand how to do it. Hopefully, this blog will explain how.
There is no standard format for a roadtest review. If you begin reading through recently posted reviews, you will find there are different ways of writing one.
To learn how to write a review, you should consider reading this article I wrote on writing a review. It was written several years ago, but still has some good basic information on review writing.
Reading other reviews is another good approach in learning how to write a review. You can see them here.
But let's get back to: What makes for a good roadtest review? A review that maintains the credibility of the roadtester.
Roadtest reviews should be objective and communicate your experience with the product. A good review can have both good and less-than-positive comments. When a reviewer has less-than-positive comments, he/she should explain them with supporting information and the technique used in getting those less-than-positive results.
I welcome other roadtesters to offer their approach to review writing in the comments section below, but here's how I would approach it.
- Focus on sharing your experience with the product based upon various tests you conduct. Conclude your opinion in a "Pro's" and "Con's" list.
- RoadTest reviews should not be a thumbs up or down quickie review that you might give on a reviews site like yelp.com, I guess.
- Roadtests review should be reasonably detailed, but it is not necessary to write a book or add supplementary blogs unless you want to. (If you do write supplementary blogs, it is very much appreciated, especially if they are written as mini-tutorials.)
In planning your review, write down the things you want to check or test. Explain that in the review. Then show us the results, preferably with some kind of data, media, video, etc. This is more objective than just saying "it didn't work."
After you have done all your tests and written up the results, at the end, write a Conclusion section, listing the Pro's and the Con's. You have a right to say your overall opinion. But with this supporting data, you will come off as more credible, objective and fair.
We do have a star system which asks the following:
- Total Score
- Product Performed to Expectations
- Specifications were sufficient to design with
- Demo Software was of good quality
- Product was easy to use
- Support materials were available
- The price to performance ratio was good
I personally find these questions hard to grade because some don't apply and some don't really apply to us in the community.
There has been some confusion on how many stars should be given. Here's my take:
1 star--totally unsatisfactory
3 stars--minimally satisfactory
5 stars--completely satisfactory
There are frequently complaints about documentation and libraries being inadequate. In some cases, this is a fair comment. When a roadtester sees errors in the documentation, and they tell me, I take it back to the sponsor. As for libraries, that's a hard one because we usually roadtest new products which may not yet have the libraries written.
The final thing you should be aware of is that your review will be read by our members, our sponsors, and anyone who reads our posts on social media. If a member sees something that is not right in the review, he usually will make a comment. If a sponsor sees something that concerns them, they will often ask to talk to the review writer. Any comment on a social media post is forwarded to me by our social media team, which I have to address.