The SEC has shed its mid-90s look with a new website that was launched on Tuesday. See: Review: What the SEC did right and wrong with the redesign of its website.

Most of the change is on the home page but that’s quite a bit what with rotating photos and less intimidating navigation. There is a search engine right on the home page — something that couldn’t be found before. When a site has 15 million hits per day and 21 million records, like the SEC’s, every little bit helps.

One photo on the site features a giant, shiny silver whistle — you can hardly miss it when go to the new version of the website of the Securities and Exchange Commission and wait for about 30 seconds.

The SEC is getting its message across with this image.
The SEC is getting its message
across with this image.

Front and center

“You can tell from the home page that the SEC is putting its whistleblower program front and center,” says Les Abromovitz, attorney with National Compliance Services, Inc. Del Ray, Fla. “Those tips and complaints help the Commission identify which firms pose a higher level of risk to investors.” See: The SEC will often 'tell’ advisors what compliance issues deserve attention.

To be sure, the site has a long way to go.

“The functionality remains the same, but the new layout should make it easier for investors to find corporate filings and other key information,” says John Nester, spokesman for the SEC, in a prepared remark. “We’ve already received a lot of positive feedback, and you should see additional improvements as time goes by. The work was done-in house by talented staff in several offices,”

SEC bloggers?

The SEC declined to give an on-the-record interview about its efforts but an SEC employee filled in some more information on background.

Going forward, the SEC could add features such as display of search results, blogs or a comment section. The agency is making the upgrade effort to comply with law about accessibility and “because it’s the right thing to do” the person says.

I asked the source whether the information will ever be delivered in the user-friendly way of BrightScope, Inc., for instance. The person did not rule it out but says that it’s unlikely because the law demands that the website format comports with the layout of hard-copy forms.

Mike Alfred: We would not view this as competitive with our effort.
Mike Alfred: We would not view
this as competitive with our effort.

Not competitive

Mike Alfred, principal of Brightscope, says he’s pleased with the SEC’s efforts.

“We’re encouraged by any effort made by government agencies to improve the accessibility and usability of their data. But we would not view this as competitive to our effort. BrightScope is focused on moving far up the value chain where the data is integrated in ways that deliver unique value.” See: BrightScope’s huge advisor database is first search-engine friendly way to connect consumers, advisors.

Abromovitz says he’s is encouraged by the SEC’s nod to social media, referring to the Stay Connected tab in the bottom right-hand corner of the website. See: Why compliance experts are apt to dislike Facebook.

“There’s a whole lot going on with YouTube videos and iTunes, as well as recruitment using Facebook,” he says. See: How far can RIAs go with advertisements?.