A couple of months ago one of my Skype contacts asked me which review-type of WordPress template to use for one of his new projects. I have to admit I had never done such a site myself (I think the reviews craze took place while I were traveling through Asia), so I had no quick answer to offer – and I had to go take a look at my favorite collections before coming back with an answer.
You probably don’t remember, but I used to be a big fan of ElegantThemes – call me lazy, but I like my cookie-cutter sites to look good out of the box and respect more or less the same general rules for configuration of various theme features (aka share a common framework). So without delay I went to check their InReview theme, hoping to get out of this before finishing my coffee.
As you can probably see for yourselves if you visit the link above, the theme has everything you would expect – stars, categories, fancy layout, good slider, custom widgets. Went ahead and made the recommendation, confident I could have not gone wrong. I remember distinctively congratulating myself for not wasting any more time on this.
Until yesterday, when the same very contact caught on to wish me Happy Birthday! (yes, mid-life crisis is approaching fast) and I got the latest on his project (See screenshot below)
So much for ElegantThemes, it seems – turned out their theme (remember, this is a paid premium WordPress template) has all the eye-candy a review site might need, except for rich snippets markup and any use for tags. If you want to get any SEO value from your reviews with this theme, you MUST have another plugin and duplicate the ratings (with all the consequences that stem from free plugins not showing fractional ratings etc.) And forget tags for improved taxonomy – they were simply deemed irrelevant and scrapped altogether by the authors.
My friend had gone way too far with deploying InReview to step back by the time he discovered these shortcomings. He worked around, with additional plugins and more time wasted – a partial failure that could have been avoided were I paying enough attention to details or if developers could be bothered to stay on top of the latest trends in rich search results.