Product and technology updates from the Weather Underground. Great new things are coming!
By: Product Team , 8:15 PM GMT on April 08, 2014
Hi everyone - we want to give you a quick update on the launch of the new site design. Starting tomorrow, we will be rolling out the site incrementally so we can monitor that everything is optimized from a technical standpoint (page load time etc.). Also we can continue to get more user feedback and make necessary changes before the site goes live to the world in the next few weeks.
Phase one of the roll out tomorrow (Weds in US, Thurs in New Zealand) will be to users in the states of Washington and Arizona as well as everyone accessing the site from New Zealand.
In the meantime, we'd like to hand you back to our Creative Director, Jennifer Potter who has some more insights to share on the decisions that were made as part of the redesign process:
Hi again, Jennifer here. I wanted to take the opportunity to communicate some of the reasons we’ve undertaken such an extensive redesign. In my last post, I addressed the reasons behind many of the visual changes (and thanks to your feedback we’re still honing them). This time I’d like to get more into the organization and interaction changes. I’ll start with this phrase that’s popped up a bit over the past few months:
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Well I’ll tell you, there are quite a few things about wunderground.com that are broken. We’ve accumulated a fairly large backlog of fixes over the years. I don’t want to bore you with all of the details, but I’ll try to sum it up with an anecdote. Matt, our UX Manager, and I were conducting a user test with an avid pilot. When I asked him if he’d been to our aviation maps, he said, “Yes, just once.” It turns out that he had stumbled upon a link to that section via another site, and had never found it again. It’s not his fault. Frankly, navigating our site isn’t easy. True to form, we kept unlocking new data sets for years, but since we didn’t have a plan for adding new sections, we just tacked them on where we could. I’ve been with Weather Underground for four years, and I’m still discovering new data and tools. I think you might have to work here for a decade before you can know where everything is. (I bet Aaron, aka WunderYakuza, knows where everything is.) So not only will we be making sections like Aviation Maps easier to find, we’ll be working with users, to ensure that the data there is as useful as possible.
The fact is, if we’re honest with ourselves, a lot of our products could be more user-friendly. We took a stab at it two years ago. We did a lot of things right, but we made some mistakes, and a lot of those mistakes could have been avoided. For one, we outsourced the design. We just weren’t big enough to handle the whole thing ourselves. And no matter how talented the company that did it was, they just weren’t wundergrounders.
But we’re doing it differently this time. We’re doing it all in house. We’re talking with you, and more importantly, we’re listening. We won’t be able to meet everyone’s expectations--what works for one person may not work for another--but we’ll continue to increase the usability, speed, and quality of all of our products, and we’ll try to make them work for as many of you as possible. We have high standards here, and we know you do, too.
A good example of how we’re moving forward can be found in the new Forecast section on the main weather page. You used to have to scroll down past the Current Data, Almanac, and Extended Forecast section if you wanted to get an idea of the hourly conditions. If you wanted a comprehensive hourly view, you had to click off the page altogether. But with the new graph view, you get all that information right on the same page, plus you get far more granular data. And you get to customize which data sets are displayed. (We default the graph to temp, precip, and wind, but I, for one, like to turn all of the data on and get the full weather story for the day.) That said, we understand that the graph is not for everyone, so we’ve included tabular and descriptive views right there with it. So not only do we give you more data, we let you choose how you want to see it. And we didn’t stop there. We also added precip type to the graph. But that’s just one improvement. There are many more to come.
One thing that I want to be very clear about is that we have absolutely no intention of dumbing anything down. Weather Underground users are the smartest weather consumers. We know that, and it is our core belief that we should continue to give you access to as much useful weather data as possible, so we’re certainly not planning to take any away. As the ever clever Riah, Video Producer here at Weather Underground, so succinctly put it, “We’re not simplifying. We’re organizing.”
This new design is not the culmination of all of our hard work; it is the beginning. We will continue to listen to your feedback and make improvements.
I want to say thank you to all of you who’ve given us specific constructive criticism. I know change ruffles feathers, but the only way we can address the problems with our site is if we know specifically what is and isn’t working for you and why. So, please, keep the feedback coming!
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.