Clear or Cloudy: 20 Weather Forecast InfoGraphics Compared

I'm lucky enough to be able to cycle to work a couple of days a week on the Burke-Gilman trail which runs along the shore of Lake Washington. This being Seattle and me being a fairweather cyclist, I keep a close eye on the weather forecast so that I can plan my commute methods for each week.

In search of the best forecast, I've tried out quite a few weather sites - although I'm still not sure I have a favorite.

From a designer's standpoint, it's interesting to see how the design of these weather 'infographics' varies from site to site as well as what common themes emerge across them.

Here's a sampling of weather sites that I've used as well as a few others I found, along with a few thoughts about each.

1. Accuweather

Accuweather

  • The ugly, small graphics are hard to understand at a glance
  • The only site not to show the low temperature, which begs the question "does anyone actually care what the low is?"
  • Not sure why it is important to show what direction the winds are coming from. Isn't it enough to know how windy it is?
  • What is 'RealFeel'? Without knowing how this is calculated, I would just ignore it

2. AOL

AOL

  • One of the better graphics. Clean and easy to read
  • Unlike other sites, graphic for 'rain' is different to 'showers'
  • On Wednesday the weather is 'partly cloudy AM'. I wonder what it will be in the afternoon?

3. AOL City Guide (DigitalCity)

AOL City Guide

  • Cutesy graphics, but I find them appealing. Shame about the ugly brown background
  • Presentation of the low & high temps is a little hard to read. Some spaces wouldn't go amiss

4. Areaguides.net

Areaguides.net

  • One of the few sites that has the 'high' temperature to the left of the 'low' temperature. This seems counter-intuitive to me. I expect the lower figure to be on the left
  • Thursday's 'mostly cloudy' description doesn't fit too well with the more-sunny-than-cloudy graphic
  • Doesn't include the date for each day. Indeed, is the date really necessary? What does it add?

5. Bloglines

Bloglines

  • Nicely laid out, with clean graphics and good descriptions (although 'partly sunny' and 'more clouds than sun' use the same graphic)
  • Easy to understand the low and high temperatures
  • Nice that they included the wind speed
  • My favorite of the group

6. Citysearch

Citysearch

  • Clear, clean layout
  • Too bad they use the same graphic for 'showers' and 'few showers'

7. CNN

CNN

  • Descriptions are overly simplistic
  • Like the simple graphics
  • Unless it was done for reasons of space, it seems easier to read extended forecasts from left to right rather than top to bottom.

8. Google

Google

  • Attractive, colorful graphics
  • Lack of a description means that you have to guess what the designers intended the graphics to mean
  • The 'cloudy' graphics seem to get darker on the right - does this mean that rain will come later in the day (e.g. morning sun followed by afternoon showers)?

9. King5 (Local TV station)

King5 (TV station)

  • Overly elaborate graphics - basically they just took a screencap from the TV and threw it on the web

10. Kiro TV (Local TV station)

Kiro TV (TV station)

  • Again shows that graphics do not really work without descriptions - are Mon & Tue partly or mostly cloudy?
  • Grpahics for Thu and Fri look they're forecasting a combination of fog and snow!

11. MSN

MSN

  • Clean, simple layout
  • Could do with more variation in graphics - 'few showers' is the same as 'showers'

12. NWSource

NWSource

  • Why the teeny, tiny graphics?
  • No need to spell out 'high' and 'low'
  • Overall layout could be better - more whitespace needed

13. New York Times

New York Times

  • Very ugly graphics
  • Too much information for such a small space
  • Why not abbreviate 'low' as well as 'high'?
  • Why use Times New Roman for the font at this size - it doesn't scale well at all
  • The description is separated from the graphic, making them harder to associate

14. Seattle.gov

Seattle.gov

  • Very comprehensive information, although given this intent, I wonder why they left out wind speed
  • Clear, colorful graphics
  • Shame about the ugly table borders
  • Not sure that including temps in °C was necessary - who is that information for?

15. Seattle PI (Local Newspaper)

Seattle PI

  • Good overall
  • Graphics are a bit dark and 'grungy'
  • Good descriptions

16. Seattle Times (Local Newspaper)

Seattle Times

  • Descriptions are rather short
  • Graphics are okay although the same one is used for 'showers' and 'rain'
  • No need to include the 'HI/LO deg;F' legend - I think people get it
  • Why all the white space under the descriptions?

17. Weather.com

  • Nicely laid out and easy to read
  • Clear graphics - the only site to use a different graphic for 'rain' and 'showers'
  • Descriptions could be longer
  • Useful to include chance of precipitation
  • Putting the 'high' temp in bold helps it to stand out as the important number

18. Weather Network

Weather Network

  • Graphics are a little too cutesy and lack variety
  • Surprising that for an American audience they put °C as the main temp (I'd love to know the reasoning behind that)

19. Weather Underground

Weather Underground

  • Ugly, overly cutesy graphics
  • What's with the big '?' covering some of the images. I suppose it's to indicate that there's a chance of rain, but how is it helpful?
  • Good to include a link for each day to a detailed forecast

20. Yahoo!

Yahoo!

  • Looks like they share their graphics with AOL and CitySearch
  • Not sure that it's better to use a relative date like 'tomorrow' than just to put the actual day. Why try and be clever?
  • Large, clear temperature numbers

Parting Thoughts

So that's my take on weather forecast infographics, with my favorite (surprisingly) being Bloglines. What's yours - I'd love to know which ones you prefer and why.

Also, are there other sites with better or different approaches to weather forecast infographics? For example, 6 Weather in Lawrence, Kansas has a very novel approach.

If you have any others from around the country or globe, please share them here!

Posted on: April 14, 2006 | No comments

Recent Entries in "Infographics"

Comments

Comments are closed for this entry.

Subscribe

Subscribe to my RSS FeedSubscribe to my Web Design Blog RSS Feed

Categories

Proud member of 9rules network