In my around Britain tour of broker websites, I've taken a trip down into Dorset for this week's threesome, with Planit Mortgages in Ferndown, Fortress in Poole and Jim White's in Bournemouth. And again three differing approaches to website design. Planit goes for a simple design that works fine for a compact website like this. But in the end, there's no substitute for a design that adds value to the site by guiding and supporting the way visitors obtain the information they want, which is why Jim White's scores higher in my book.
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Planit's proposition is all about the importance of planning in getting a mortgage, building nicely on its company name. And this no-nonsense approach is taken through to the website design which consists of a simple template in purple bordering straightforward black text on a white background. But I think it could make more of the content. The mortgage guide is fine but desperately needs indexing (and a bit more proof-reading) while the 'product news' sounded good but only delivered a list of general product features. And it should make more of its contact routes – it's OK to have a separate page with them all on, but where they appear elsewhere they're often below the scroll line and therefore out of sight for too much of the time.
Fortress Mortgage Services
This is a very compact site indeed – just three pages. Well, that needn't be so bad – there's lots you could do in three pages especially if you start with the message “working for you, for your benefit”. You could describe all the main mortgage schemes in a couple of lines. You could briefly explain their advantages and disadvantages. You could include a basic calculator. But you guessed it, Fortress does none of this. To be fair, the contact telephone number appears regularly or you can link to an email page, and there's even an online enquiry form – so some brownie points for all of these. The text is easy to read as well. But I can't help feeling that it's a wasted opportunity.
Jim White's Mortgage Solutions
“Turned down for a mortgage? Turn to Jim.” The message appears on every page and everything aims to support it. Overall, this is a good-looking website and the pages work pretty well. Having four menus on the homepage is not ideal, mind, with one across the top, one down the left, another down the right and one down the middle. Just too many options for the average mortgage prospect. And it would be better to have more contact links within the pages than this site offers although the telephone number does appear in all the page banners. There's plenty of information and generally well explained, too. But the case studies are getting a bit long in the tooth – one from 2001 and two from 1999.