There are two kinds of book readers. One, who passionately read books of their choice and love writing about them, and two, who read the book review to decide whether to read it or look for another! For both categories, a book review website is the ideal starting place. If you belong to the first category and wish to write your view on the books you have read, then building your own book review blog or a commercial book review website is not a bad idea!
A book review website is extremely helpful for book lovers and avid readers who are always on the lookout for something new to read. Goodreads and Shelfari are some popular examples. If you have noticed, every book review website has a specific layout with some essential elements – the book name, author, illustration, plot, synopsis, etc.
Building a website like this from scratch takes a lot of time and effort. WordPress makes the process easier by offering various plugins and themes that can be readily installed and executed to build a good book review site.
Want to know how? Here’s how you can build a Book Review website with WordPress.
- WordPress Hosting and domain name
Choose a web hosting company such as Bluehost, SiteGround, Dreamhost, iPage, etc. and get your domain name registered. Consider the parameters like offered space, bandwidth, hosting plans and offers, automatic updates, online support, and web security while choosing the same. There are many options like shared and managed hosting to choose from; make sure that you research all the pros and cons of each before you make a final decision.
- Install WordPress
Once done with the hosting and the domain name creation, your next step should be installing WordPress on your hosting account.
Now you are set to start designing your website!
Think of some catchy name for the website that will make visitors curious about the site. WordPress relies on plugins and themes to add all necessary functionalities to the website. You can add members, create subscriptions, send out newsletters, and even set up payments for your book review website.
But more on that later. First things first.
Must-have Features for a Book Review Website
Before you select your theme or plugin for the book review website, make a list of all the features the website requires. Having your requirements on hand will make it that much easier for you to narrow down your search. For instance, your features could include:
- Multiple categories as per the genre of the book: Fiction, Travel, Recipes, Kids, etc.
- A clean display for viewing the list of books
- Star or point scale rating
- Subscription integration
- Custom widgets for showing latest articles, featured articles, top comments. etc.
- Custom Sliders to add other books by the same author
- Custom Post types
- Auto population of book details like the title, author, and cover page
- Links to social media
- Multi-device display compatibility
Deciding Between a Theme and a Plugin
There is always a furious debate raging between people advocating a theme and those advocating a plugin. WordPress has numerous themes as well as plugins that are designed exclusively for building up a review website. Each have their own advantages and drawbacks, you have to take a call based on the future scope of your website.
Let us study the themes and plugins used for building a book review website turn by turn.
Selecting a Theme
You can select a theme for your WordPress book review website and customize it as per your need. Every theme adds an individual appearance to your site and has provisions for modification as necessary. Nevertheless, it is better to install and use a theme that aligns with your website’s purpose than overhauling an unrelated theme completely.
As you build your book review website, here are some themes you could take a look at:
ProReview has a simple, to-the-point appearance and is great to use. It comes with features such as –
- Top rating widget
- Review slider
- Pros and Cons
- Numerous layouts
Swagger has all the elements that one would need for a review website – ribbons, a top ratings-widget, product review settings, a ‘pros and cons’ section, etc. The only drawback is that it does not have a ‘User Ratings’ option, which diminishes its functionality greatly. It is a good theme to consider if you don’t want your book reviews site to include user ratings.
This theme comes with a clean and spaced out, elegant appearance. It doesn’t look like an out and out review theme like some others but does come with some good features. The only things that you need to give due consideration to are that InReview does not support schema.org and has a rather laid-back, plain layout.
This is a theme and plugin combination that offers editor’s ratings and user ratings. It offers ratings like stars, grades, percentages, questions like the helpfulness of reviews, and even Google Maps integration. MyReviewPlugin has the option of a ‘one click, complete setup’ option and 8 themes.
Once the theme is setup, you need to create a few pages your audience is sure to look for. Some of these could be:
- An ‘About’ page that describes you and your book review blog.
- An additional page like ‘Contact’ to mention your contact details, just in case.
- A ‘Blog’ page to post detailed reviews or user opinions.
Don’t forget to add ‘Categories’ so as to organize your posts well and ‘Tags’ for the readers to search posts using keywords. These basic things are necessary and sufficient to make your site work.
Till this point themes really do a fabulous job. However, an attempt to change the theme in the future to add up extra features may disturb the code and mess up your site completely. That means, once you set your theme, it locks you with it forever.
Plugins, on the other hand, are more flexible. Plugins affect the functionality of the site; these are the extensions of core WordPress. You can safely deactivate or uninstall a plugin in case you find it irrelevant in the future.
Selecting a Plugin
Plugins are a great option when you have a multi-pronged approach for your website in mind. For instance, if in future, you would like to integrate multiple plugins to add various functionalities, working with a theme might end up limiting your choices, as the chances of theme-plugin incompatibility are increased manifold.
Here are some plugins you can consider to be the cornerstone of your book review website.
#1 Book Review
The Book Review plugin integrates with WooCommerce for creating an eCommerce book store or enabling you to post your reviews on one. This is a slider plugin that displays the review, images, videos and any other HTML that you may add.
#2 Book Review Library
This isn’t a review plugin but is a helpful add-on. You can create your own library of the books you have or are going to review, with the Book Review Library plugin.
#3 OpenBook Book Data
The OpenBook Book Data plugin allows you to add books into your review posts. It displays book information such as the author, cover image, illustrator, and other links. This way, the reviewer doesn’t have to go hunting for this information on the net.
GoodReviews provides a shortcode that can display information about your book reviews from Goodreads. It has widgets that improve its functionality and ease of use.
The MyBookTable plugin helps you create book pages for your site. It has affiliate links to online bookstores and review sites like Amazon, Goodreads, Kubo, etc.
Need something more? Here is how you can do a lot more with your website to make it more professional.
- Be multilingual: Translate your review posts to multiple languages to attract more visitors
- Link to the online bookstores: If a visitor likes the book you reviewed, he can instantly purchase the same
- Team up: You can also add other passionate writers as ‘Authors’ or ‘Contributors’ to your website
That’s it, folks! Once you have set up the core book review website, you can opt for further functionalities like adding email subscriptions, setting up memberships for your users with WooCommerce, or integrating social sharing links to increase traffic, and more.
What do you think? Would you recommend any other themes or plugins that could be useful? Let us know in the comments section below!