The Federal Election Commission recently launched a new website intended to improve its user experience through a cleaner layout and additional features.
Built in conjunction with General Services Administration office 18F, the updated site presents a striking contrast from the previous version, which grew organically and erratically — and often made life difficult for visitors trying to access campaign finance information.
Focusing on user-centered design and information consolidation, 18F and the FEC’s final product includes a glossary search tool designed to assist users in locating definitions for campaign finance terms, a reorganization of the homepage and an easy-to-locate press release block on the front page.
“We want the wider public, not just highly trained data researchers, to be able to use the site fully,” a spokesperson from the FEC said. “Providing transparency and disclosure of campaign finances is a key part of the FEC’s mission, and the website is absolutely central to that service.”
Years of campaign financial data published without a user-centered interface in mind represented a problem for visitors, who complained that even though the site served up sufficient data, there were insufficient pathways to access it. With that in mind, the FEC decided that a complete overhaul of the site was necessary. Nongovernmental sites such as OpenSecrets and ProPublica track, analyze and serve up the same data.
FEC.gov now provides a candidate and campaign-committee search function that enables users to track “raising, spending, debts and loans, filings and summary information” on profile pages, as well as an advanced search function for individual contributions, campaign spending and original filings that provides saveable and exportable data. Additionally, users can now view all candidates running for a particular office and pull up campaign spending and fundraising comparisons. These new campaign search functions are supplemented by increased data visualization capabilities within the site, and the FEC plans to add more soon, according to the website.
The new website also maintains a large presence in helping candidates and committees understand and comply with the laws surrounding elections. A form database and a search-by-committee function allow for quick access to important information for all aspects of campaigns.
A number of tools also exist on the new site that are designed to ease the burden of campaigns seeking legal information and advice. Databases of regulations, advisory regulations and information surrounding FEC enforcement are also readily available.