How We Review & Test Products and Services

This here is the process we use when we review products and services listed on websiterating.com

At Website Rating, we pride ourselves on being a one-stop source for up-to-date and reliable information on web hosting companies, website builders, VPNs (virtual private networks), cloud storage services, password managers, email marketing services, and landing page builders

We are dedicated to providing our readers with beginner-friendly in-depth reviews and comparisons so everyone can make informed decisions and make the most of their online presence.

about website rating

We are real people, just like you. We asked what you wanted to know, then put these tools through their paces to unearth accurate, reliable answers. Learn more about the team behind websiterating.com here.

To be able to accomplish this on a case-by-case basis, we’ve carefully developed our review process. It helps us maintain high levels of consistency, transparency, and, of course, objectivity.

The Website Rating review team conducts extensive research so nothing of crucial importance can stay hidden.

Disclosure: Website Rating is reader-supported, meaning we might earn an affiliate commission if you purchase a product or service through the links on our site. However, this doesn’t affect the honesty of our assessments. We don’t let our collaborations pressure us into writing biased or promotional reviews. We aren’t afraid to highlight the weaknesses of the companies we’ve partnered up with and explain how they can improve their offers. You can read out affiliate disclosure here.

Our Evaluation Process

Website Rating’s evaluation process covers 8 key parts of the entire user experience

1.) purchasing and downloading; 2.) installation and setup; 3.) security and privacy; 4.) speed and performance; 5.) main features; 6.) extras; 7.) customer support, and 8.) pricing and refund policy

We research and analyze each of these areas so we can create comprehensive and useful reviews. This applies to:

  • Web Hosting
  • Website Builders
  • Antivirus
  • VPN
  • Password Managers
  • Cloud Storage
  • Identity Theft Protection
  • Email Marketing
  • Landing Page Builders

Note: Please keep in mind that although these are the steps our review process consists of in general, we like to leave some room for flexibility so we can properly cover the unique features of each product/service category.

1. Purchasing and Downloading

We begin our evaluation process by going through all the available plans and usually buying the most popular one. Purchasing a monthly subscription allows us to familiarize ourselves with the product/service in question and explore each of its main features. We don’t like using free trials when reviewing products or services because they usually don’t provide access to the whole package.

Once we pay for the package of our choice, we focus on the download. Obviously, some tools don’t require any file downloading to be used (for example, some of today’s best website builders are online, meaning there are no downloadable software elements).

However, there are some that do, in which cases we perform the necessary download and assess the installation file’s size so we can inform you how much free storage space you need to have to be able to install the product on your device.

purchase receipts
Example of purchase receipts from tools we review

2. Installation and Setup

During the second stage of our review process, we run the installation script, take care of all the setup details, and assess the amount of time it takes to complete this action. We also pay attention to the level of technical knowledge needed to execute this step successfully.

When a product/service comes with clear installation instructions and requires little to no user interaction, it means it’s user-friendly. Ease of installation is extremely important, especially if you have poor tech skills and don’t want to end up paying for an app you can’t figure out how to install.

3. Security and Privacy

This is one of the steps we spend a lot of time on. When it comes to security and privacy, the Website Rating review team explores the set of security measures the product developer/service provider in question implements as well as its regulatory compliance status.

For example, when doing research on a particular web host, we look for information on its hardware security practices. A web hosting company’s physical servers must be adequately protected against threats so you can feel confident that your web data is safe. These practices usually include controlled access points, security cameras, motion detectors, water- and fire-proofed server rooms, back-up generators, etc.

Our reviewers also look at how the web host monitors networks and prevents security threats and attacks. The existence of a proactive and consistent monitoring team is always a huge plus.

Then there’s SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption which is a security protocol that generates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. SSL security is a must, especially if you’re selling online and need to keep your customer information private and safe. We believe that all web hosting companies should include SSL certificates in their hosting plans, which is why we list the absence of free SSL security as a con in our reviews.

We also look at the web host’s DDoS (distributed denial of service) prevention measures, CDN (content delivery network) support or the lack of it, and backup solutions.

pcloud security settings
Example of security settings we review

4. Speed and Performance

When it comes to the online world, speed is king. This applies to practically all the products and services Website Rating focuses on, but web hosting is without a doubt the service that mustn’t disappoint in this arena.

Your website is the heart of your online presence and you want your visitors to receive your web content as quickly as possible, which is precisely why we run webserver speed tests and incorporate the results in our reviews.

When sharing the results of our speed tests with you, we explain what the numbers mean and compare them with the industry average so we can assess the web hosting company’s performance.

When reviewing cloud storage services, we focus on the upload speed, the download speed, and, of course, the syncing speed.

uptime and speed testing
Example of uptime and speed testing

For uptime and speed testing of the web hosting providers we monitor, visit https://uptimestatus.websiterating.com/

5. Main Features

When researching a product or service we intend to review, we look at whether its key features align with its main purpose.

For instance, an email marketing service should provide you with pre-built, mobile-friendly, and customizable email templates so you don’t have to create emails from scratch but you can still make changes to fit your vision. A password manager, on the other hand, should always allow you to store passwords.

To help you understand the functionality and value of the product/service we’re reviewing, we include screenshots of its key features in the respective review. More often than not, we take these screenshots inside the tool/app/platform so you can see exactly what you’ll get if you decide to invest in it.

6. Extras

Bonus features and functions can do no harm, right? Well, that’s yet another question we answer in our reviews. Extra features can increase the total cost of a product or service, which is why we focus on figuring out whether they are worth it.

We do this by assessing the usefulness and performance of the additional feature. We also look at the option of getting the same feature (or one similar to it) as a standalone product/servicе.

Let’s take, for example, website-building platforms. Helping their users create beautiful and functional sites with little to no coding knowledge is their main purpose.

Typically, they accomplish this by providing their customers with a large selection of professionally-designed and customizable website templates, an intuitive drag-and-drop editor, an image gallery, and a blogging tool.

However, extras like free web hosting, free SSL security, and a free custom domain name can significantly increase the value of a website builder as it will practically offer the whole package.

wix free domain voucher
Example of extras (free domain) we review

7. Customer Support

A product/service review, no matter how detailed, cannot help you make the most of your purchase. Your experience with a specific tool, app, or service will be unique, which is why having access to round-the-clock customer support is a must.

When reviewing a product/service, we look at all the different ways the respective company’s customer care agents can be reached. The more forms of customer support, the better. Aside from live chat and email assistance, we value phone support as well. Some folks want to hear the voice of the person helping them solve their issues rather than reading their words.

We determine the quality of a company’s customer support by asking its agent's multiple questions, looking at their response times, and assessing the usefulness of each response. We also pay attention to the attitude of the experts we communicate with. Nobody wants to ask for help from a cold or impatient person.

Customer support can be passive, too. We are, of course, talking about a company’s knowledge base in the form of articles, how-to video tutorials, ebooks, and FAQs. These resources can help you understand the basics and reduce your need for expert assistance.

8. Pricing and Refund Policy

Last but definitely not least, we examine the pricing plans for the product/service we’re reviewing and compare them with the prices of their biggest rivals. We do this to see whether the competitors offer the same packages (the same quantity and quality of features) at a lower or higher cost.

Additionally, when there are special introductory prices and discounts in place, we look at all the conditions you need to satisfy to be eligible for them. These typically include being a new customer, purchasing a long-term subscription (yearly, 2-year, 3-year), etc.

It’s important to keep in mind that discounted introductory prices aren’t always a good thing as they sometimes distract you from taking into account the high renewal rates. We make sure to include an explicit warning in our articles (usually as an item on the cons list) when that’s the case with the products/services we’re reviewing.

Free trials and money-back guarantees are very important as well. Even though free trials are usually quite limited and don’t allow you to explore the product/service you’re considering buying in its entirety, they can help you get acquainted with the user interface and see whether the product/service suits your needs.

You can benefit in a very similar way from money-back guarantees. Both of these features are valid for a specific period of time (15 days, 30 days, etc.).

Summary

As you can see, we do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. Our independent research and review team explores products and services from the inside because we don’t like taking anyone’s word for it.

You can rest assured that we’ll expose all the major weak spots of the products and services on our site, make honest recommendations, and never waste our time on tools, apps, and platforms that don’t meet our quality standards.