When you’re shopping on Amazon or choosing a new restaurant from a site like Yelp, it’s easy to find a variety of ratings and reviews. But when you’re buying construction software, it’s not always so simple. No single website is the clear market leader for construction software reviews. Instead, there are numerous sites and pages scattered around the web.
And that’s just the first problem.
According to a Pew Internet research study, 48% of respondents said it’s “often hard to tell if online reviews are truthful or unbiased.” When you’re buying consumer goods, this might be a small risk to take. In the case of a bigger investment like contractor software, however, you’ll want to feel more confident. So where can you go to get the best picture from real users like you? And how can you even be sure those reviews are accurate?
We’ve compiled a few tips to help you answer those questions.
Understanding Types of Construction Software Reviews
First, there are two major types of review sources: single reviewer and crowd-sourced. In “single reviewer” articles, a blogger might offer their opinion on one or more products. These articles often have headlines like “Top 10 Construction Accounting Software” or “Best Construction Accounting Software Programs” and are known as “listicles” — a combination of “list” and “article.” The second type involves “crowd-sourced” reviews, where users provide ratings and written feedback on a product.
Many sites use a combination of both — a method you can follow yourself, when it comes to your own construction software research.
Construction Software Listicles
Listicles are everywhere on the web. They’re concise and easy to understand. As a result, they aren’t always comprehensive or written by users of the software.
Still, they may help give you an idea of what’s out there.
To make sure you’re getting the most out of a software listicle, consider the following.
1. Are the Reviews Generic or Detailed?
A short paragraph on each construction software product is great when you’re trying to understand who the major players are. But if you really want to understand the advantages of each product, you’ll need more detailed information. Look for specific examples from the reviewer about features they’ve used to accomplish real work tasks.
Ideally, the reviewer will have actual experience with using each application, and you can check to see how they evaluate the same features across all of the construction software they’re discussing.
2. What’s the Author’s Expertise?
When it comes to construction software, experience matters. The more a reviewer knows about your industry and the daily demands contractors face, the more informed their review is likely to be. For example, an expert construction tech writer likely has the experience to competently evaluate the most important highlights of a product. Someone outside the construction field or new to construction software may only be able to cover the surface features of a product.
In short, always check out who wrote the article.
And if the contributor’s bio at the end doesn’t tell you much, you can try Googling the author’s name to learn about their background, experience and affiliations.
3. Use Multiple Lists
Don’t rely on just one listicle! Every reviewer is going to have a slightly different opinion that could be valuable, and a consensus across multiple sites is usually a good sign.
You may also come across the name of a top construction software application that simply didn’t make someone else’s list. Try starting with five or more listicles. That should give you enough information to narrow down three to five top construction software platforms. You can then research each one even further, including a conversation with each vendor.
Crowd-Sourced Software Reviews
Like Amazon and Yelp, crowd-sourced reviews for construction software try to pool together helpful reviews from real users like you — not just bloggers or influencers. But with numerous sites out there, which ones you should look at first, and how much influence should they have on your research? Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Where Do the Reviews Come From?
Crowd-sourced reviews can originate in a number of ways from a variety of people — so you might ask, “How exactly do you source the crowd?”
Just like Amazon or Yelp, a lot of software reviews happen organically. These reviews usually come from two groups — those in love with the software and those so frustrated by it that they take the time to leave less-than-stellar feedback.
On Amazon, you’ll see the result is sometimes a lot of five-star and one-star reviews. “I just bought this laptop last week,” someone will write, “and I haven’t had any problems!” But that kind of feedback doesn’t tell us how well the hardware holds up over time. Or someone might negatively review a steakhouse for not having a vegetarian menu. It happens. We all have strong opinions. Organic construction software reviews can be like that too.
To help populate a review site, however, sites sometimes offer incentives to encourage reviews. While this helps create more feedback from real users, it can also encourage people to write reviews for software they haven’t used.
That means, unfortunately, not all user reviews are verified. Software vendors will routinely work with review sites to remove these. However, it’s important to be aware that unverified reviews do exist.
So what does that mean for you? It means specificity is key. When you’re gauging the quality of reviews, pay close attention to the language. It should sound like the reviewer has actually used the features of the product and knows what they are. For example, look for any mention of how long they’ve used the software. Reviews from people who have used the software for a year or more with formal training are ideal.
This tells you that they’ve taken it through at least one whole project cycle and have had a realistic amount of time to train, implement and get acclimated to it. They’re likely to know both the benefits and drawbacks of the product.
2. Are All Reviews Positive?
As with any software, even users with overall positive experiences may have one or two things they’d like to change. And as users, we all know pretty clearly what stands out the most when a product is 95% perfect — that darn 5%.
Each construction company and user can be a bit different. It’s important to remember that software that fits well for one may not be a great fit for another — and the reverse is true too! It all comes down to a company or user’s particular needs, processes and goals.
So it’s not uncommon to see a mix of reviews, sometimes with conflicting opinions on the same features. In fact, seeing only positive reviews on a site could be its own red flag. A negative review or two can be a sign of authenticity and lack of bias on the site.Seeing only positive reviews on a site could be its own red flag. Click To Tweet
But when it comes down to it, the important thing is for the positive to outweigh the negative.
That’s why it’s also important to read past the “star” ratings and take in the whole review. Look at how they describe their company to see if it resembles your business. Read through the pain points and benefits they describe to see whether they’d apply to you. If it sounds like a review you’d hope to be able to write (or prevent yourself from having to write!) in the future, that’s probably one to elevate above the others.
3. Where’s the Software Vendor?
On many software review sites, software vendors have the opportunity to respond to both positive and negative reviews. So as you look through their pages, check to see if they’ve engaged with users. Pay special attention to how they respond to negative reviews.
Are they concerned and responsive? Do they make excuses, do they make apologies — or, do they look for a solution? How vendors respond can tell you a lot about how their company does business and how they’ll problem solve for you as a client.
Reviews — Huh. What Are They Good For?
There’s a lot to consider when looking for and evaluating reviews, but they can be very valuable. Reviews can offer broader insights into construction software that might otherwise be hard to find. However, while they can be a way to begin and reinforce your software search, they’re by no means the end-all-be-all for getting the answers you need.
Our advice? Begin by treating listicles and review sites as one starting point for finding the names of construction software companies. Then look at who uses the software and what common points come up in crowd-sourced reviews. These can give you some basic insights to help figure out what would be a better fit for you. And more importantly, reading through reviews can help generate questions that you can then take into a conversation with vendors.
When you’re ready to start the conversation about whether FOUNDATION is the right fit for you, so are we. You can ask us anything, and we’ll give you a straight answer. We’ll even put you in contact with users like you who can give you a full review from experience. Simply schedule a free demo with us.