I set off on my round Britain tour of mortgage broker websites this week and what more pleasant place to start than Bath. Of the websites I've seen, I've selected these three – Money Wise, Simply Mortgages and the oft-quoted London & Country Mortgages.
And what a diverse threesome they make. Money Wise seems to have thrown its website together without thinking the whole proposition through while Simply Mortgages has gone for style over content. Fortunately, London & Country is there to rescue the good name of Bath – as far as broker websites are concerned anyway.
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Money Wise is not just any IFA but the “Official IFA and Sponsors of Bath Rugby”, as it proudly proclaims on its homepage. Otherwise, the homepage shows lack of thought with the long navibar on the left hand side quite a jumble – it needs a real sort-out so that related content, for example on mortgages, is kept together.
As with the other main product areas the mortgages page is mainly an enquiry form although this could do with being a little more consumer-friendly in its language. The one-minute guide to remortgaging – a Q&A section – is a nice idea but the colour scheme of this page (and others) needs to be brought into the same style as the main body of the site.
Simply Mortgages, part of the Zurich network, claims to offer straightforward financial advice so it's a pity it hasn't constructed a straightforward website. Style is pre-eminent here with a homepage that hides the menu behind an illustration of a town house and which is revealed as you roll the mouse over the picture. It may look pretty but you could do with more information.
There's little here to draw the consumer in and even less to demonstrate that the company knows and understands its market (which I happen to know it does). There's an 'online assessment facility', a rather grand title for an enquiry form, but even this is incomplete with no space to include employment status.
London & Country Mortgages
An amusing touch – on the homepage, London & Country scores its own website for style, content and value, giving itself top marks for value. But actually the content's pretty strong too. There's best buy information for various product categories along with the mortgage of the week and each page has a reminder that the page can be e-mailed to a friend – a nice idea.
All the basic information is covered in a 'small print' section (which also includes a glossary that would be better pulled out separately). There's a set of calculators but it's a pity you have to print off the enquiry form for completion by hand before faxing. Overall the site is pleasing to look at with an unfussy design.