Rating tables – the good, the bad and the ugly

Rating tables - the good, the bad and the ugly
Photo: Narith Thongphasuk, BS

Rating tables are some of the most important parts of a niche website. By a niche website, I mean everything that has to do with reviews and ratings. In most cases, the product or service being reviewed needs detailed explanation in written form, but some can handle just small icons and a little bit of text next to them.

However, there are usually problems concerning rating tables, especially when designing them. The designers have several questions to answer. Do they want the design to be straight to the point or do they want the readers to navigate through the article? In most cases, it’s best for the website owner, if the viewer stays on their website for as long as possible, therefore the most common rating tables are basically mazes, where you need to click your way through the information. But there are some exceptions.

Now let’s take a service which is very hard to review with just icons and a little bit of text. How would a UI/UX designer handle this fact? Do they make the reader click their way through the information or do they make it instantly accessible?

The word UX itself should already define the answer. User Experience needs to be immaculate. Once a viewer uses the website once, they shouldn’t dread coming back to it. The services we are going to look into today are Financial Service Providers, or Forex brokers if that’s what you want to call them.

The reason why they’re such a good example is that it is impossible to rate and review them based on some small icons and text. They require large articles dedicated to discussing all of their features like technical aspects, legal aspects and of course the Human Resources and attention to detail. Most websites that provide reviews for these companies host rating tables on their platforms, to help the viewers easily navigate to the company they need to find. But let’s look at some examples to see what makes a design good.

The good

As already mentioned, a good Rating table needs to accomplish 2 things. It needs to supply information to the viewer without them having to take extra steps (The viewer is able to find relevant info by just looking at the table) and it needs to keep the visitor engaged, meaning that even if they press the “Read more” button, it’s done out of curiosity rather than being forced to do it.

When looking at the ForexNewsNow rating table we can see exactly that. The companies are displayed with their names and logos which is simply a standard. However, they are also accompanied by icons and relevant information right next to them. It’s hard to understand what that information is, but for a person interested in a Forex broker it’s the most relevant. What the service costs, how long it has been active, what are the bonuses and what type of jurisdiction they follow.

Only after displaying the most crucial info, the website offers the viewer to continue reading the review. At this point the user is not forced into reading it, they have already gotten the most important information and can simply leave. This is UX, meaning that even if the viewer doesn’t stay too long on the website, they will at least return in the future.

The ugly

This may come across as shocking, but some of the most popular websites that feature reviews are the ones that have the worst Rating tables. The worst one I could find was Investing.com’s outdated model, where they display the least amount of information on the table.

The rating table consists of only Logos for the company, their very brief description and only 3 parts of the ever-so-important features. It is also disappointing to see that there isn’t even a rating system in place.

Therefore the user needs to actually access the article by clicking on the table and find out more through that. This isn’t the best way to handle UX as it creates an extra hassle for the user when it shouldn’t.

The bad

Another popular website for these types of rating tables is Investopedia, where people can find a lot of guides when starting their financial adventures. The rating tables on this website are comparably better than Investing as they have an actual rating attached. However, here too we find a lack of information from the website’s part.

The table only contains the rating of the service and a small description. Here too, the viewer is forced to click and access the whole article to get the whole value out of the review. Although it is better than no information, it still lacks in good UI/UX design and adds extra steps for the website visitor.

The bottom line

So what is the bottom line for Rating tables? Basically, it all comes down to UI/UX and the way you design your website pages.

There are exactly two ways to do it. Make it so that the visitor stays longer on your website, but is unlikely to return, or just make them stay on the website for less time, but be a constant visitor in the future. Having both slices of the cake at this point is quite hard for such websites. But to balance it out there are other niches they pursue.