http://www.wacug.org/guidance.html last modified on 29 Jul 2000
(Note: The following article copied from the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG) Reports newsletter, Vol. 11, No. 2, dated April, 2000. Reproduced by permission. The original article can be found here.)
Guidelines for Reviewing Products
By Linda Webb, Vice President and Reviews Coordinator, Greater Cleveland PC Users Group
Product reviews for hardware and software can be a great benefit to your user group; information about new software, hardware, services or computer books gets to your members from fellow members who have taken a `test-drive'. In return for their efforts, your members frequently get to keep the products they review. The reviews program also helps build relationships between your user group and the vendors with whom you partner, and you in turn help the vendors get information about their products to a wide buying audience throughout the year. Everyone benefits!
Since some of your members may be new to the review and writing process, below are some guidelines to help them conduct their review, along with suggestions for writing an article for publication in your newsletter or on your web site. The evaluation process guidelines focus on hardware and software, but should be adaptable for reviews of computer books or services.
- Are installation instructions accurate and complete?
- Were all parts (software media, or hardware pieces, if hardware) there?
- Were there any unexpected events during the installation process (missing drivers, conflicts with your existing configuration)?
- Did the installation complete successfully?
- What is the purpose of this product?
- Do you feel the product fulfills its purpose as stated on the box or in the manual?
- Is any necessary functionality missing from the product?
- Is the use straightforward, and does the product conform to common standards for this type of hardware or software?
- Is the product fully functional when compared to competitive products?
- Is the product fully functional when compared to the market's desire for this type of product?
Help and Learning the Product
- Is there a tutorial? Is it adequate to help you use the product?
- How useful is the included product help?
- Is there a troubleshooting guide? How comprehensive and adequate is it?
Suggestions for Writing a Review
If you've never written a review before, look at how some of the reviews in computer magazines are written. You will see many styles, but there are some characteristics that are always present. This is so that a potential buyer of the product can make an informed decision before purchase.
Incorporating what you learned during your review process, draft an article that addresses those points. Write this review for this product alone. Do not compare it to another products. You can, however, compare to market direction. Also answer these questions in your article:
- What is the audience?
- How much does the product cost?
- Where and how is it available?
- What is your general feeling about the product?
Short factual statements are best.
It's OK to add `personality' to your article, but avoid being opinionated.
Use your spell checker before submitting your review.
A one-page article offers a good reading length.
Help your newsletter editor by including a graphic of the product or product packaging, if available. You can usually download these from the manufacturer's web site.
Finally, if you have any problems with the product during your review, please contact the vendor for assistance before you write the article - the vendor deserves a reasonable chance to address any problems you may be having - before publication.**
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