I had an email the other day from the web designer for The Black & White Group, saying he was an avid reader of Mortgage Strategy (so he should be), especially the Internet Insite page, and inviting me to review the recently overhauled Black & White website. I was interested in having a look as I reviewed an earlier version back in July last year. So this week I thought I'd take a trip to Staffordshire to look at Black & White in Rugeley and Midland Mortgages and Platinum Mortgage Solutions in Tamworth.
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The Black & White Group
This site doesn't score as well as the site I reviewed last year. The homepage just doesn't make you want to investigate further. It starts with B&W's proposition, where the English could be better, and then you scroll down through a news service that is largely irrelevant, down through an 'about us' section, down through a bunch of short cuts which might be better if they mirrored the navibar long since out of sight, and down to links to articles by B&W staff. This sounds a good idea but the articles are too short to be anything more than basic – an 'investment guide' of only 300 words! Site navigation is messy and links to things like car dealers don't add value. Pity, as there is good stuff if you can be bothered to look.
Platinum Mortgage Solutions
This is a broker-facing rather than a consumer-facing site though you can't tell this from the homepage. Maybe it doesn't have many casual visitors but it might be better to have the 'professional intermediaries only' disclaimer on the homepage rather than tucking it away at the bottom of the mortgage matrix. The homepage sets out the corporate mission – it could do with finding something other than the usual stuff about service – but also includes a calculator. No consumer site should be without a calculator but it takes a broker site to put it on the front page – extra points for that. But points off for not promoting the contact telephone number and online DIP facility – well, not prominently anyway – and for having a jumble of a 'mortgage matrix'.
“We worry about your mortgage” it says on the homepage as Midland Mortgages searches for something unique to say. In fact, it worries so much that it goes overboard on navigation with tabs across the top of the homepage, a menu down the left, information links on the right and more links in the middle. Many consumers will wonder where to start. Not me, I go straight for testimonials. “We have helped many people” – yes – “below are examples” – yes, yes – “page being updated” – oh no. Well at least there's lots of information, with Midland's own homebuyer guides as well as a feed from Moneysupermarket for product details. And the extensive glossary includes a correct definition of 'mortgage', which is unusual.