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How we test and review on Creative Bloq

A person holds an iPhone, star ratings appear above it
(Image credit: Chainarong Prasertthai / Getty)

We want to be your first choice for trusted tech, design and art product reviews. If you're looking to upgrade or buy new tech, we offer everything you need to make an informed purchase. We're 100% independent and have decades of experience to help you buy with confidence.

We rigorously test every product to ensure our opinions are informed and detailed. And our review-testing process doesn't end at the final verdict, as we offer longer-term reviews of products as well, regularly revisiting tech and software to update reviews and ensure they stay relevant.

Our reviews are written by people who use the products day-to-day, by writers who have a passion for the latest tech because it's crucial to their lives

Our writers and journalists are experts in their fields. If we're reviewing a drawing tablet or digital art app, the views will be those an artist. Our reviews of gaming laptops, video editing software and 3D rendering tech, are written by users with a background in these products. Basically, our reviews are written by people who use the products day-to-day, by writers who have a passion for the latest tech because it's crucial to their lives.

Our editorial trustworthiness is enforced by one of the world's largest technology publishers, Future Publishing. As a company we have unrivalled experience across every tech sector – and we're the group's specialist for design, arts and crafts.

Visit our About Us page to learn more about Creative Bloq, our team of writers and editors and to get in touch. You can drop us an email and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to ask anything.

Our reviews guarantee

Apple Pencil

Our reviews are independent, informed and honest (Image credit: Future)

Because we hold ourselves to high standards when reviewing the latest tech, software and art products, we have a series of core tenants that we abide by when reviewing on Creative Bloq. These are:

  • We are totally independent and never take payments for reviews.
  • Our editorial focus guides our reviews coverage; we choose to review products and tech that our readers need, are interested in or want to know more about.
  • Advertisers have no say in what we think or write Our views are unfettered and always honest.
  • We're tech and software fans who use these products too, so if they suck we're not going to hold back on saying so.
  • We love design – if something looks beautiful and it's been created with purpose and passion, we're probably going to like it. In equal measure, duff design will be noted.
  • We test products as you'd use them, in real life over time. We aren't curtailed by deadlines or testing limits. Every product is thoroughly tested as it would be used. 
  • If you have an issue with any of our reviews, please email the editor (opens in new tab) and we'll take your comments on board. 

Our review scoring system

a wacom tablet

We review products over weeks and even months (Image credit: Future)

We keep things nice and straightforward here on Creative Bloq and we score out of five stars. You may see some reviews scoring half-stars if a product just edges out of its star rating. It's easy to understand: the more stars the better the product.

We consider many categories when reviewing a product, whether it's the latest iPad or the newest update to Photoshop. These help our reviewers get to the heart of why a product deserves your attention or should be avoided. We consider the following:

Features: what is the functionality of the product, how does its core specs compare to other products in the market, and do the new features help or hinder the product's use?

Design: we're the world's leading design and art site, so of course, we care how a product looks. But it goes further; how does a product's design aid its use, its feel and its accessibility?

Setup: we love a product that's good to use out of the box. The user-experience for every product begins with its unboxing and approachable setup. Also, what's in the box? Does the manufacturer consider every use and setup approach?

Performance: of course, performance is vital. Each product is reviewed differently in this area. Laptops and computers are judged on industry-standard benchmarks, for software, art and craft products we consider UI and UX approach and the quality of outcomes – for example, does a Cricut material actually do what it says?

Value for money: More important than ever before, we always consider if the product is worth the money. We consider the recommended retail price, but we also scour the internet for the best deals and will highlight if a pricey product can be purchased cheaper or as a bundle deal.

Keeping reviews simple

An image of an example of a quick review summary on Creative Bloq

Reviews are preceded by a summary offering a quick verdict (Image credit: Future)

We try to keep our reviews as approachable and easy to understand as possible. We start out with a summary of the review so that if you're short of time or just want the bottom line, this gives you the lowdown.

This quick review offers all of the viewpoints found in the main review as well as offering a quick look at the key pros and cons the reviewer discovered while testing the product. You'll also notice some reviews have awards, these are again designed to help you quickly grasp a product's rating.

three review awards badges

Creative Bloq's awards can help you decide on a product (Image credit: Future)

5 Star Gold Award: this is our premium gong given to the best-of-the-best products. If you see this on a product you can be assured you won't be disappointed by this tech, software or art accessory.

Editor's Choice Award: we offer this badge on products that may slip slightly from being top-rated but our editor still feels its something everyone should know about. If a review scores 4-stars it can get an Editor's Choice Award. 

Recommended Award: some products can tick a lot of boxes but may slip from scoring well for some reasons – they could be old tech but still good value. We often use the Recommended Award to highlight good products with specific uses.

Reviews, guides and group tests

Hands holding Fujifilm X100V camera in use, showing top plate dials

We go hands-on for our deep dive reviews of products (Image credit: Fujifilm)

Visitors to Creative Bloq will see we have three main ways of rating products: reviews, buying guides and group tests (or head-to-head tests). We do this to give you more details, greater choice and to place products in comparable contexts.

Deep-dive reviews are created by spending time with a product, usually more than a week and sometimes even as much as a number of months. We like to test products the way you will use them, which means spending a lot of time with a laptop, drawing tablet, software, and anything else we may find ourselves rating. We don't review from a hands-on look at a conference or event. We only review from physically having a product in the office or our writers' homes. Take a look at our iPad Air 5th Gen review as an example.

Buying guides are, where possible, created from gathering together our main reviews to create best-in-class lists. These are a way to organise similar products under an umbrella term – for example. If you're looking for the best Cricut machines, we have them all in one place.

Occasionally, we will build a guide based on third-party reviews, often gathered internally from Future using our wider family of websites and magazines to create useful best-of lists. These may not always have star ratings. An example is our guide to the best PS5 games, informed by Future magazine Play.

Group tests enable us to create reviews that pit similar products head-to-head. These will often be dubbed 'versus' reviews. They usually compare two or three products against each other to judge which is the best. Comparisons are excellent ways to rate products, as we often whittle down a laptop or tablet to the best two or three on the market. For example, take a look at our Apple Pencil vs Apple Pencil 2 review.

Our reviewers

Assembly parts for Hag Capsico chair

Our reviews are so in-depth we even put the products together (Image credit: Tom May)

Our reviewers are specialists and passionate fans of the technology sector they review products for and write about. The team has decades of combined experience across art, design, branding, video games, and technology and many have been contributing for Creative Bloq since its launch in 2012.

Editor Kerrie Hughes wrote for the leading CG art magazine 3D World before moving to Creative Bloq in 2013; deputy editor Rosie Hilder has experience in print on Computer Arts, 3D World and Paint & Draw and Mac|Life; deals editor Beren Neale edited Computer Arts; Ian Dean comes from Official PlayStation Magazine, ImagineFX, and 3D World.

The broad Creative Bloq team has a deep and encyclopaedic knowledge of the products they're reviewing

This just scratches the surface, as our wider team of writers includes jobbing designers, artists and tech enthusiasts who work in their industries, as well as coming from sister sites and magazines inside Future. Our writers are global and have years of experience in their chosen fields of expertise.

The upshot is the broad Creative Bloq team has a deep and encyclopaedic knowledge of the products they're reviewing; more so they care. Our writers are users and fans of these products, and love to champion those that work and flag up anything that falls short of their high standards.

Meet the Creative Bloq team

How we test

We test products in the real world as you would use them. For some tech, such as laptops, PCs and workstations, we use benchmarks to test specific performance stats, such as browser and processor speeds, or GPU performance.

Find out more about our testing procedures:

Read more:

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The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began over a decade ago. The current website team consists of five people: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq. 

With contributions from