A complete redesign of the user interface aims to make the site easier to use, and a major component of this is a feature that enables users to browse through hierarchical menus. For example, if a user selected the automobile industry from the menu they could then browse through all the rated corporates in that industry.
Similarly, a related research function has been added to the search engine whereby a search for a particular issuer will return not only the latest information on that issuer, but also for the industry they belong to.
RatingsDirect covers more than 6 million ratings, 248,000 issues, and 71,000 reports, including over 200 new ratings and analyses issued daily. The service currently has a user base of over 8,000 fixed income professionals. Many of these use the alert function of the site for immediate notification of ratings movement in issues they track. Up until now this may have occasionally resulted in an overflowing inbox, but S&P have remedied this situation by allowing users to have all alerts compiled into one that is delivered at the frequency they select, for example once a day.
One long-time user says he has always found RatingsDirect useful for real-time ratings information and searching for issuer specific research, but that the interface and search functions make it more difficult to find research on wider trends, such as defaults.
That issue is still being worked on, says Associate Director of Investor Services Ken Chan. Based on constant user feedback S&P expects to deliver another major upgrade to the service in the next 12 months .