After the disappointments of Swansea last week, it seemed time to revisit London, and in particular the City, to see if I could find some sites to rekindle my faith in brokers' abilities to create customer-centred websites. Well, I haven't done too badly. Hamptons International Mortgages may not be impressive but Mortgageland does pretty well, although its site needs some rethinking. Millfield's site is a cut above. Yes, I know it's a big IFA and probably has the budget to go with it but you don't need oodles of dosh to create an effective website.
If you want to recommend a broker website for me to include in my reviews, email the website address to me at email@example.com.
Not content with setting out the main customer proposition of 'independence' on the homepage there's a 'Why Mortgageland' page and a customer charter page. Talk about belt and braces. Clicking on 'site plan' takes you to a mortgage guide rather than a site plan but at least the explanations cover the key points on each mortgage type without being long-winded and they're written in a matter of fact style which works well. But product information is elsewhere. There's a reasonable set of FAQs (though I imagine they must get more than these) but also a separate section called 'useful tips' which overlaps the FAQs. Overall, there's good stuff in this website but it needs to take a step back and think how visitors would use it.
Now this is a good-looking site. For starters, there's no scrolling up, down and sideways on any page – everything fits within the screen (bliss) with information and links held within a central panel on each page. Clicking on 'personal solutions' on the homepage brings up a left-hand menu covering all the main subject headings but also including a link to a lifestage section in which each lifestage sets out a number of pertinent scenarios with a link to a solution. Plus there's a summary of Millfield's five-step approach to financial planning. The mortgage information is kept short and to the point – maybe too short in some instances – and it's backed up with some simple calculators and an online enquiry form. Overall, a good example to follow.
Hamptons International Mortgages
Back to reality. The mortgages homepage has a long list of mortgage types but with no explanations. Below this is a shorter list which is the navigation menu. 'Mortgages explained' has short descriptions of product types but the absence of a hot index means scrolling through to see if what you need is covered. 'Tailored service' has actual customer scenarios which demonstrate speed, efficiency and effectiveness – they could make a lot more of these. The layout of the 'best buys' page is, well, naff. Again, you have to scroll through lists of key features while a simple table would work much better. There's a cost calculator and an online enquiry form but overall it looks as though little or no thought has gone into site design or customer usage.