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'We're not estate agents and we don't like experts'

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aj. column

Don't jerk my heart-strings, I know how the mindless savagery of the planning police, and house prices, force architects to live in Edwardian and Victorian houses. But for those architects who secretly quite like older places there is a site, Period Property UK, at www. periodproperty. co. uk.

Apart from properties for sale, it has a forum, insurance advice, specialist services, tips for renovating and so on.

It looks just the thing. But why didn't an architect think it up before this? Mind you, Robert Tavendale, managing director of Period Property UK, does not like experts. His press release rants illogically: 'So-called 'experts'cause millions of pounds worth of damage to listed buildings and old properties every year.' I'm sure he cannot mean English Heritage.

Odd then that there is an expert agony uncle, Malcolm, who sounds like a nice, clever chap and is apparently an expert in sustainability. It is not just experts. Tavendale pales at the idea that his site might be in the business of estate agency. You and I know why anybody might want to make that claim.

However, what this site does is to work with estate agents by charging them for displaying property ads on the site. But it doesn't sell houses: 'What we do is sell our ability to sell houses.'

Gobbledegook though this seems to be, there is a real lesson for website developers. It is stickiness. People, who will at some time want to buy an old house, will come back and back for free information about things like maintenance and management, which ostensibly are side issues to the main task of flogging old houses.

One in 12 European males is colour-blind. The navigation of websites is based partly on colour recognition. Check www. btexact. com/ people/rigdence/colours and find out how colour-blind people see, and how to design sites that are as intelligible to them as they are to us.

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