Learn about star ratings
What is a star rating?
A star rating – or a star classification – is a popular rating scale used by both professional reviewers and members of the public to leave feedback regarding the quality of products, services, and experiences. The greater the number of people leaving feedback, the more reliable a star rating is likely to be as an indicator of (perceived) quality - i.e. of popularity.
Different ratings systems vary in the maximum number of stars that can be awarded. A rating of between one and five stars is probably the most commonly employed system. However, one-to-three and one-to-ten star designs are frequently also seen. No matter the total number of stars possible, it is more or less universally accepted that a high number of stars is a superior rating to a low number of them.
You’ll most likely have come across the star rating system before on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and eBay, and in the context of public review sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor. But star ratings are equally popular within the world of mobile app development, being employed as a means for customers to provide feedback everywhere from the iOS App Store to Uber and Skype.
Although the star rating system has only really become ubiquitous in the digital age, it nonetheless has a history of being used as a method of indicating and appraising perceived quality stretching back to at least the 19th century. Initially, though, the star rating system was used primarily in travel guides as a way of indicating how worthy of visit the author deemed a particular work of art or historical site to be. The system was later adopted by book and movie reviewers, before becoming commonplace as a way of ranking the luxuriousness of hotels.
Today user feedback has not only been democratized to involve the opinions of all citizens, but much of our lives - personal and professional - now actually revolve around the acquisition of positive feedback in one form or another. In areas of business and technology, this is often given in the form of a star rating.
Why use star rating systems?
With user ratings having acquired such an important position in contemporary society, clearly any website or app that doesn’t offer users the opportunity to leave feedback regarding their experiences may be seen as suspect. From the point of view of developers and designers, however, there are two other very important reasons why the inclusion of a star rating system within projects can be advantageous.
Firstly, star ratings can be massively beneficial in improving user experience by helping users differentiate between otherwise apparently very similar products and services. Secondly, a star rating UI is a great way of increasing user engagement.