Interesting thing, design. What works for some people can be complete anathema to others. And this week's three websites from the West Midlands show just how different things can be. In the middle of the road is Oak Tree Mortgages of Shirley with a design concept that flows from the company name – and it works reasonably well too. At one end is Futures Mortgage Centre of Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, with a modern design that also flows from the company name. At the other end is Smart Moves of Sutton Coldfield. Smart? No. Drab? Afraid so. If you want to recommend a broker website for me to review, email the website address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Too much grey makes this all look rather dreary. And it needs to sort out the photos – too many styles. But the proposition on the homepage is reasonable enough: “ with unbiased advice, we take the gamble out of choosing ”. And having all the lenders scrolling through gives the statement a certain credence. The index of financial services is not great, with its occasional odd language (when was the last time you heard a customer talk about 'effecting' a mortgage?) and a concern to sell life assurance rather than explain what a repayment mortgage is. But the page on remortgages has some useful information. And if the majority of the firm's clients come through recommendation, there should be testimonials.
Futures Mortgage Centre
With a website address so close to a certain lender, there could be scope for confusion here. But not when you arrive at Futures' site. The initial page has little but the mission statement which includes the commitment “to provide the BEST (Futures' capitals) mortgage to suit our clients' requirements”. It's a big promise that gets little support through the rest of the site. It also says that most of its business comes through personal recommendations but there are no testimonials to support this, while the mortgage services are just a list. So not many stars for content. But there are contact and enquiry forms and the design is rather smart – pity that the linked site for Futures Estate Agents doesn't come up to the same standard.
Oak Tree Mortgages
There's quite a lot to this site. It opens with an oak tree from which acorns fall off to form the bullet points of the firm's proposition – it may be twee but it works nicely. Navigation generally works well with a main menu and sub-menus. And there are links to various insurance engines to get quotes, although the 'find a mortgage online' link didn't work. The main message is “unbiased professional mortgage advice” and to prove it, the pros and cons of the main mortgage types are explained (alongside graphs that don't add much value). There's plenty of information behind 'buying a home' and 'remortgages', most of which is the same (quite sensibly), with a mortgage enquiry form and plenty of contact links as well.