“The Monument site has several features that could be very useful to a mortgage broker.”
Monument Mortgage, recipient of FNMA’s 1998 Technology Leadership Award, has a website that is a fitting subject for this month’s technology theme. The site has a good design and interesting features. If you are a loan broker seeking online options or if you are a wholesale lender interested in seeing an example of an exceptional website, check out mortgagedepot.com.
Created in PERL and HTML, the layout uses tabs to organize the website into three categories: loan brokers, products, and rates. Within these categories you can perform various functions by clicking on options from a static column next to the tabs on the left side of the screen. The appearance of the site is appealing. It is crisp and orderly with a simple but appealing color scheme of red and blue. The screens are crammed with options, but there is appropriate white space. Static and dynamic components blend together, making the package work as a unit.
Here is a good way to appreciate the various layers in the website. Go to the very bottom where you usually see credits and copyright information displayed and click on “Layout View.” This opens a screen that displays all the links in the site in outline form. I think that this could be a really useful feature in any site. As a returning user who is familiar with the workings of the website, it could be a fast and easy way to jump directly to a target screen.
The Monument site has several features that could be very useful to a mortgage broker. For instance, you can research programs and check rates online. This is not uncommon in lender websites. What Monument has taken to the next level is giving approved brokers a way to register a new loan or order loan docs online. Then the actual loan application can be submitted electronically with processing software. Another critical transaction that you can carry out with the Monument website is to send a lock request. It’s a real advantage to be able to do this from your computer, instead of having to get someone on the phone or chase down a lock request to fax.
Because the log-in process includes sensitive information such as the borrower’s social security number, this has to be done in a secure site. Let’s talk about what this entails. To make a site secure, two things are required. Data must encrypted before it is transmitted and the data has to be sent to a protected environment. It is typical for websites to be hosted by a generic ISP (Example: AOL). Then when they enter into an e-commerce transaction, they change to a secure site. In the case of the www.monument.com, the entire website is secure. Monument Mortgage uses their own computers as servers and they keep the computers behind locked doors. The data is secured by using Verisign – SSL technology. An additional technique used to protect your personal information is a password that looks like this: “pASwORd”. Mixing case-sensitive characters makes a hacker’s life a little more difficult.
A really nice feature that I would consider adding to any website is the online help option. Every screen has a picture of a staff member and the caption, “Broker Liaison on Call.” A click signals support people who are standing by to call and walk you through the site. If you do not have a separate phone line available, they can communicate by loading a chat window on your screen. Using web technology, they can tell who clicked for help and what screen that person is currently working in.
The Monument website deserves praise for its crisp design and usability. It works well and is pleasant to look at. What appears to be simple is often very difficult to achieve. I rate this website as exceptionally good.
by Thor Skonnard