I'm in Essex this week with three quite different approaches. The Mortgage Practitioner has used a white-label site to deliver information and interactivity – great if you want masses of content you don't have to write yourself. Mortgage 2000 (as here) and Network Data (see my review of June 7) are the main service providers but the main thing for the customer is that there is a seamless link to a site that looks and works as though it's part of the broker's site. I'm afraid Mortgage 2000's white label site, extensive though it is, doesn't fulfil that basic criterion.
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FrontLine Financial Services
This is not a complex site but FrontLine of Canvey Island has included some helpful functionality. There's very little on the homepage apart from a menu, a flashing message, some contact details and a photograph of FrontLine staff. Its proposition on the 'about FrontLine' page has plenty of comforting and empathetic phrases, such as “flexible approach”, “plain language” and “every expense visible in advance”. There are four testimonials although I would prefer to see names rather than initials. The calculator has a graph, making it very visual and there's an online enquiry form. But the site doesn't make enough of contact details – the telephone number should be more prominent and links to the enquiry form should create more traffic.
The Mortgage Practitioner
The Mortgage Practitioner is in Basildon and at first glance this also looked like a fairly simple site. The proposition is all around personal service, including a personal message from the firm's principal complete with photograph (“OK I know I'm not Brad Pitt,” he says, “but at least you will know the face of the person you're talking to”). The guide to mortgages offers click-throughs to a fair bit of information although some of it is in lumpy text which could do with breaking up. The main menu also has an option to “go to my automated mortgage website”. This takes you to a Mortgage 2000 white label site. There's loads of stuff here, getting good points for content and interactivity but losing in character and personal approach.
With Apple Loans I've headed back to the seaside – Leigh-on-Sea. Apple Loans says its a firm of remortgage and loan specialists and its website is utterly single-minded. The focus for the site is to get visitors to contact the firm, preferably by completing the online enquiry form. Consequently, there's a big telephone number plus four 'apply now' links on the homepage and links on other pages too. There's even the carrot of a monthly prize draw for a Red Letter Day to encourage response. The bright red of the colour scheme helps as well. On the downside, there's no product or borrower information and no calculator. The FAQs, which need indexing, are reasonable although some of the explanations are a bit confusing.