Mcbride Financial: Web Site Review


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Executive Summary

At the request of Mr. Hugh McBride, service request SR-mf-001 was opened for a design to be created in order to improve and enhance the current Internet web site for McBride Financial Services. The Web site will be vital for McBride's success. The company will ensure operating expenses are low by employing only a few brokers and one support person in each office. We will depend upon the company Web site and self-serve kiosks located in the offices to educate customers about the various loans that are available. Also, we will count on these mediums to sell those customers on the McBride Company for their initial and subsequent loan purchases. The majority of our advertising will be directing potential customers to our Web site and, from there, on to our offices. It is imperative that the Web site both educates customers about and sells them on our services. In the following paragraphs, Team B will present the initial results of our findings.
The first section discusses the need to redesign the web site using the latest technologies as well as using colors, fonts, and images which appeal to consumers. This will be completed by a technical web designer familiar with an updated design proposed below by Team B. The website will be hosted on our internal web server running Windows 2003 with the Apache Web server. The hardware within the company is up-to-date with current standards and can be used to host the content for the website. To create the dynamic web pages to display the most current loan information, a database will be created which will load the most current loan rates that are listed. Once the new rates are loaded, the dynamic web page will automatically adjust to reflect the recent interest modifications.
To manage the equipment, Team B recommends having one fulltime employee that will manage the website and equipment. Beyond this, we recommend McBride contract with an outside company to serve as a backup in instances where the on-site tech is not available.
Considering most sales will be made via the Internet and in-store kiosks, advertising dollars will need to be well spend and marketing promotions will need to be addressed. The first step will be to make sure the website is fine tuned for search engine optimization. Once this has been accomplished, the use of Google Syndications and click stream marketing will bring additional customers to the site.

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Once these features are intergraded to the site, the newly designed website and the competitive interest rates should hook consumers.
The advertisement base will be for the United States, the database for interest rates will include all the appropriate rates for the entire country. The marketing campaign will be ranged from the first time home buyer, to investors, to retirees.
In closing, an effective web site is an extension of the company. The face McBride presents in the online community will be a direct representation and reflection of the company's inner workings. The design that has been presented by Team B focuses on the business goals of increasing profits, turning visitors into customers, increasing sales, decreasing operational costs, increasing traffic, and providing exceptional customer service.

McBride Financial: Web Site Review
Objectives
McBride's main customer focus will be directed towards their Internet presence. The goal of this service request will be to design, implement, and manage McBride's website to meet the growing needs of their corporation. By focusing on a well designed webpage, the needs of the customer and ensuring that all the information within the pages are dynamically updated, these goals will be met. Web site and self-serve kiosks located in the offices will be used educate consumers about the various loans that are available and to sell those consumers on acquiring their loan through McBride Financial.
Intended Audience
The Audience for McBride's website ranges from the new home buyer to the Investment Buyer. The age range that will be targeted is the 23 – 55 year old age age.
Company Message
McBride Financial Services will be the preeminent provider of low cost mortgage services using state-of-the-art technology in the five state areas of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. We thank you in supporting our mission!
Our customers will receive the most efficient and effective processing of mortgage applications from inception to closing.
Site Functionality
The McBride Website will function to enhance every aspect of the businesses needs. To accomplish this, the website will need to function seamlessly in a local or extended area, at a kiosk in the facility or at a user's home system; McBride's web site must offer accurate and current data which interacts seamlessly with the back end. McBride will incorporate the Seven Layer OSI (Open System Interconnection) Model to ensure safety, security, and accuracy on both user end and system end data transactions.

The site will educate users by providing them with the most up-to-date information on the company. This will include data such as loan rates, types of loans, and rates comparisons and trends over the last few years with projected figures for the near future, to show the user the state of the current market. We will effectively communicate this to the customer through the use of easy to follow graphs that are broken down into plain English. While maintaining a professional and businesslike demeanor with our language, we will eliminate confusion on the users end by not using terms with which people outside of the industry may not be familiar with. We will present the appropriate amount of data which will not overwhelm the customer and cause them to shy away.
The website will also serve to increase our revenue by prompting users to act now, rather than wait to long. By providing incentives which are of limited time, or informing the user that the current rates are projected to rise on such and such a date, we will create a sense of urgency without pushing the user into a transaction they are not prepared for. By generating this urgency, users will be less likely to put of a purchase for another day, which may never be made. Users will be further likely to make an immediate transaction online with assurance our website is secure. Utilizing a daily testing service which provides a daily validation of web site security, utilizing SSL (Secure Socket Layers), and secure transactions in accordance with the OSI model, users will be more likely to make an immediate purchase from our company.

Website Design Element Changes
To make McBride Financial site more appealing to view, we will apply elements that will make the site pleasant to look at and easy to read. By not including strong background colors which would distract the viewer or cause the viewer to switch to another site, we will subtly influence the user to stay on our site longer. We know from experience that web pages are sometimes interpreted differently by various browsers with ranging capabilities. With the ever changing and evolving HTML language of a web page, it is recommended to consider accessibility in order to make a page usable by the largest amount of people possible. (Lemay & Colburn, 2003)
The keys to making the companies' page accessible are graceful degradation, standards compliance, fast loading, and intelligent organization (Burstein, 2007) . Popular websites are designed with a plain white and grayscale fades background, giving the site a neutral, cool, soft base against which strong flash colors can draw the eye. Also, utilizing good-sized margins to keep all elements apart and extra line-height to help on-screen reading make the site compartmentalized. The user can look at the information presented and follow a natural flow where relevant data is separated blocked with other relevant data. The site will have an easy to follow flow which any user can logically follow.
Most importantly, the size of the text has to be the most significant detail on the page. This is more important than even the images. In addition, bigger text will aid visitors find what is most important quickly, learn about what is on the page, and most importantly, find what they want without having to read through a lot of information.
Applying our images which relate to the products in the locations where they are able to best provide the viewer a visual concept of what we are introducing to them will offer more meaning to the text. This allows every image to have a function, and to properly support the data. Areas on the website that are considered non-primary areas should not be rich in content, and should provide a more subtle appearance so as not to draw attention from vital areas. Flat colors, subtle contrast, gentle gradients, smooth curves, and fresh white space can help the user focus, and still create a great look.


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