Enterprises are launching “corporate portals,” gateway sites that act as an entryway to both a company’s Web presence and its intranet. In this column, Web consultant Kelly McKnight gives his opinion on a corporate portal, highlighting strengths and weaknesses that may translate to your company’s Web presence. The following index provides an objective look at the site’s features.
Kelly’s thoughts on the Charles Schwab Web site
I feel the same for stockbrokers and investment advisors as I do for car salespeople. True or untrue, the majority of us feel we’ve been ripped off by these folks for years. Remember paying $50 a trade? We knew it took about two minutes for them to make the transaction, so why the big bucks? “Because that’s the way it is,” was always the reply. Scandals like the junk bond fiasco and the movie “Wall Street” also had a definite negative impact on people’s opinion of the stock broking trade.

Well, “them days is over,” and Charlie Schwab’s group was one of the pioneers of the movement.
This is the first in a series of articles called “Playing the Market.” Over the next couple of weeks, I will also review the E*trade and Ameritrade Web sites.
I cannot lie: I’ve never traded online. On the other hand, I have used discount brokers, so I was looking forward to seeing what all the hoopla is about.

My first impression of the Charles Schwab site was that it’s crisp, clean, well organized, and targeted to the “smart investor.” I was disappointed that there wasn’t a photo of Charlie, though. From the photos that I’ve seen before, he looks like a good guy and comes across as sincere.

Let me tell you, this is a great place to do research! I mean, you have options and more options. There’s the Library, the live chat, the static Q&A—all backed by extensive drill down.

For the do-it-yourselfer, this is information heaven. By the way, the industry labels you a “do-it-yourselfer” or as “financially self-directed” if you’re into online trading.

Setting up an account on is easy and painless. “MySchwab” is the name of their personalized account. Geez, I wish the people who name this type of personal account would grow an imagination. I’m tired of anything with a preface of “e” or “my.”

Kelly’s verdict
Overall, the Schwab site is very efficient. You can access a lot of solid information that’s written in a very easy-to-understand fashion. What the site lacks is excitement and personality, and I don’t know if this is good or bad.

You be the judge.

Kelly McKnight is a principal of Via Internet Studio, a consulting firm that specializes in corporate Web site design, Internet marketing, and e-commerce.

Now it’s your turn to review the Charles Schwab Web site. Just click on the Rate this Site! button and you can help separate the good from the bad from the ugly. It only takes a minute or two to complete your rating, so don’t waste any more time—rate this site now! For Kelly’s rating, scroll below.