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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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

7. 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


  • 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


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

12. 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


  • 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?


  • 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!


  • 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

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