User feedback plays a very important role in determining whether your website’s content, design or product meets the standards of today’s world. Obtaining this feedback can be done in a number of ways, however one of the simplest of these is introducing a rating system.
WordPress has a number of plugins that provide similar rating and/or comment systems for you to obtain such feedback, however they’re all limited in some way or another, be it in the number of options available or the styling provided out of the box.
There was therefore the need for a WordPress plugin that meets all the needs in one; an easily customisable rating system, a comment feedback system, and a multitude of options to cater for as many requirements as possible. It’s at this moment that I introduce you to the first premium plugin from the folks at Elementous; Rating Manager.
What is Rating Manager?
Rating Manager is a premium WordPress rating plugin created to cater for content and comment ratings, and is the first of its kind to make use of SVG image technology. The use of SVG allowed the developers to create a light, fast and highly customisable rating plugin.
It offers a number of options and settings for you to optimise the rating system depending on your needs and requirements, while also including statistics for you to keep track of what’s proving popular on your WordPress site and what requires improvement.
What does it offer above other rating plugins?
As you can imagine, there exist other WordPress plugins out there that offer rating systems, however Rating Manager has some advantages over its competitors.
Firstly, as already mentioned above, it uses SVG technology. This means that the rating icons can be modified with absolute ease, be it size, colour and even shape. In fact you’re free to upload your own SVG icon that can then be modified within your site’s back-end through the Rating Manager settings.
The colours on offer are infinite through the use of the HEX colour codes, the icon size can range from 10 to 100 pixels depending on the style of your site, the maximum rating value can be selected from a simple dropdown, the voting and feedback messages can easily be changed, and the comment rating is just as customisable, if not more.
Let’s delve into some more detail about the available settings as we follow the process to set up the plugin itself.
What’s the plugin like to setup?
The installation of Rating Manager is like that of any other WordPress plugin. Just upload the provided zip file through the Plugins section of your dashboard, and activate the plugin. Once it’s activated, the rating system is automatically added to the front-end of your site using the default settings provided.
There are a large number of options for you to choose from in the Rating Manager settings, including the general settings, style options, messages options and comments settings. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Once you click on the Rating Manager settings you can start setting up the plugin according to your needs. It’s all very easy to setup, and all you have to do is check the required boxes. For example, you can choose which post types to display the rating system on, be it posts, pages, media, e-commerce products and much more.
You also have such options as displaying the ratings before or after post content, displaying them on other non-rateable pages, setting an access strategy and a logging strategy, as well as enabling rich snippets.
There are also two other interesting options in the general settings section, the first of which is Exclusion. This option allows you to exclude particular content from the rating system, such as a particular post (using the post ID) or a post tag. This proves useful when you have particular posts that you wouldn’t like feedback on, such as a simple announcement.
The second interesting option is Feedback. Checking this option will enable the Feedback Form that presents itself to the user once they have set a rating for a particular post or page. You’re also asked to provide an email address on which you’d like to receive the feedback itself.
Your next tab in the settings is the Style tab. This is where Rating Manager comes into its own, providing you with a large number of SVG icons to use in your rating system (along with a preview of each), the ability to upload your own custom SVG icon, and a large number of options to customize the look to match your site’s design.
These design options include the size of the icon itself, the maximum value for the rating system, the HEX colour of the icons (both for unrated and rated), as well as an HTML template for the rating form and an area to enter your own SVG image source code.
The Messages tab then offers you the chance to change the messages seen by the user at different stages of using the rating system on your site. Firstly, once a vote is made, the user is provided with a thank you message for a few short seconds.
Aside from that, you can also change the text that appears above the feedback form once the user has voted, urging them to leave a feedback message in addition to the rating, as well as a thank you message if they decide to take up this option.
Lastly, you’ve got the Comment Rating Settings tab. Here you can set which post types you’d like your users to be able to vote on the comments on, the logging strategy of your choice, as well as the rating mode. This rating mode allows you to offer two types of options; one where the user can only provide positive feedback, and the other where they can down-vote a comment.
Once again you’re also able to change the size of the icons, change the HEX colour, change the HTML template of the comment form, and also apply some Top Comment settings. These include showing the most rated comment on top and applying custom styles to the top comments; font family, size, style and colour.
In addition to all the settings options available with Rating Manager, the developers also took things one step further. They have incorporated a great statistics section that details all the feedback you get, including average star rating for each post, page, etc, the number of actual votes, the messages from the feedback forms, as well as overall statistics for all post types, pages, etc for the day, week, month and year.
You’re even provided with a Tools section that gives you the options of resetting the content rating stats as well as the comment stats.
What do the ratings look like on the front-end?
As mentioned above, the look of the ratings, feedback form, etc is all dependant on your own personal preference, but here’s a quick look at what’s achievable through the most basic of settings changes from Rating Manager.
Below you can see the 5 star rating option that appears beneath a post. Once the reader sets the 4 star rating they get the option to leave their feedback, which in turn opens up the feedback form for said reader to fill in. This is then sent directly to the email address you entered in the settings, giving you valuable feedback to keep improving both your site and your content.
Besides the ratings on the post (or page) itself, remember that you can also give the reader the option of voting on the comments left by other readers (or the author). This voting system can even be used to bring the highest rated comments to the top of the list, giving your readers the chance to view the best feedback first and foremost.
The ratings are always displayed in a neat manner that not only looks good, but also encourages the readers to provide their bit of feedback on a piece of content, a particular page, an e-commerce product, or whatever else you might have on your site.
After all, it only takes one click to show your approval or dislike for that particular item; simple.
Documentation and Support
The documentation is detailed and contains any information you might require, ranging from the setting up of the basic settings to the hooks, filters and functions that you can use to customise the plugin to your needs.
Premium technical support is also provided however it’s only for paying customers. Having said that, you can still get in touch with the team through a pre-sales question.
Conclusions & Recommendations
This is overall one of the best rating system plugins that I’ve come across for WordPress. The multitude of options available is more than enough to be able to create the rating system you desire for your site, while also providing you with constant, valuable feedback from your users.
If you value the feedback from your readers, customers or users, then a plugin such as this would be a must, and you won’t find a lot better than Rating Manager. The introduction of SVG images is definitely a big plus point, allowing you to customise the look, size and colour of the icons in the simplest and least intrusive way possible.
Should you wish to try things out for yourself before purchasing you can check out their Rating Manager demo site. Here you can see all the options and settings in action and optimised for you, as the site admin, to be able to collect the best possible feedback from your users.
Rating Manager is available for purchase from the Elementous website for the price of $42.
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