My round Britain tour of broker websites has arrived in Birmingham this week.
There are three quite different approaches to websites in my selection. The mortgage choices offering starts well but like many websites doesn't carry this early promise through the site. And the advertising links, presumably there to create a bit of income, just get in the way and damage the overall effect.
Emerald Finance has a simple site but misses the opportunity to create a strong impression, while National Guarantee has the content and the looks but fails with its interactivity.
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
Mortgage choices states that it is there to 'give you the very best and totally impartial advice' but it's difficult to find evidence in the website to support this assertion. Yes, there is basic information on mortgages but little that speaks to the brand proposition. The protection guide is better but it is supplied by Paymentshield. There might have been an opportunity to use the Frequently Asked Questions to hammer home the message but there are only five and they don't give much by way of answers. It seems to be more concerned about selling advertising space to companies such as Lakeland and Carphone Warehouse than building a website that satisfies the needs of prospective customers. And someone needs to learn how to use apostrophes.
Here's an example of a compact site, and I do mean compact. There are just three pages which certainly makes the site easy to use. Each page has the same left hand border with the same photo of a grinning adviser plus contact numbers (no email address?). The homepage doubles up as 'about us' and sets out the company's stall. The text could do with being rewritten in better English but it's not as bad here as it is on the 'enquiries' page where Emerald tries to explain about data protection and credit searching. OK, I know it's a small site but in many ways that should make it easier to get a strong, simple, message across. Still, it does know how to use the word 'free' – in capitals and bold!
I expected to be impressed by National Guarantee's website but came away disappointed. It scores well for content with the 'about us' section driving home the message about creating individually tailored solutions, a downloadable guide to non-standard mortgages and a section on 'how we can help' which takes you through National Guarantee's mortgage process and which actually works better than the rest of the site. But I kept coming up against a blank. There are well-designed flows that lead you to an online DIP form – there's even a link to the form off the homepage ('apply now – click here') and from the navibar – but no form appeared. Zero points for interactivity. At least the contact telephone number's always on-screen.