Mystery Tours on the Online Legal Intranet Best Scottish Property Sites Page Welcome to the Mystery Tour of the "Best Scottish Property Sites"
by Delia Venables & Kevin Crombie

Click on a number above to view the winners!

The Origin of the Tours

The Tours are also published along with a much more detailed commentary in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers which has been awarded Best Legal Journal for 2001 by the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL). The newsletter features articles and stories from lawyers in the UK on topical issues affecting the legal internet and the information technology world. To find out how to subscribe, click here. To visit Delia Venables' site, the largest and most popular legal resources site in the UK, click here.

About this Tour

The internet offers a truly level playing field. There are no limitations on the size of a website and a small firm need no longer remain so online. In fact, it is often the smaller firms which have been particularly active in the estate agency area and which feature strongly in this survey.

Marking Scheme

Marks have been awarded as follows:

  • Speed of access - 5 marks
  • Quality of information on the firm - 5 marks
  • Design of the site - 5 marks
  • "Something extra" - 10 marks.
This gives a theoretical maximum of 25 points.

This is the same scheme as Delia's previous English and Irish "Best Sites" surveys with a larger number of marks (10 instead of 5) available for the "something extra" which, in this case, has been heavily weighted to the property aspects of the site.

What are the firms doing?

Over 140 sites were surveyed and the vast majority were involved in residential property in some way. While some firms have opted for a simple brochure guide to their services, others have tried to turn their site into a valuable resource for their practice. There is a strong tie with the solicitors property centres on each of the sites which is to be encouraged if firms wish to attract new clients seeking to purchase property being marketed by another firm.

Quite a few firms had guides to the law and helpful hints which can make it more likely that visitors will return to the site. Some of the more interesting guides that I found and promptly bookmarked were practical checklists covering topics such as buying property, selling property and moving house.

Guides which were worded as an advert for the firm (e.g. "We will...") were distracting and were often quite brief. Try and forget about advertising the firm when writing this and think about the end user. Would you come back to a website to read an advert?

Ideally, a firm would have a searchable and up-to-date database of properties which they are marketing. When the results appear there should be a small picture of each property, a brief description with some short facts and an option to expand this to see a much larger description and pictures of each room in the property if they are available. This is so that users with slower connections can access the site more easily. Further, the user should be given the option to download the full schedule of the property. This is often in Adobe Acrobat PDF form, since this enables existing printed material to be used without further formatting effort; however this can be slow on a normal connection and html versions of the full information are usually faster to load.

If a database is beyond the technical abilities of the firm, then a simple listing by category can be used instead. This should ideally be ordered by price and/or area.

To view the winning sites, just click on a number above. There is a description of each site, the marks it received, and the link to the site itself. When you click on that link, the chosen site will open in a new window and you can explore the site. When you have finished with that site, just close the extra window and then click on another number.