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 fair-weather 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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?
- 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.
- Clear, clean layout.
- Too bad they use the same graphic for ‘showers’ and ‘few showers’.
- 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.
- 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)
- Overly elaborate graphics – basically they just took a screencap from the TV and threw it on the web.
10. Kiro TV (Local TV station)
- Again shows that graphics do not really work without descriptions – are Mon & Tue partly or mostly cloudy?
- Graphics for Thu and Fri look they’re forecasting a combination of fog and snow!
- Clean, simple layout.
- Could do with more variation in graphics – ‘few showers’ is the same as ‘showers’.
- 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
- 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 Newspaper
- Good overall.
- Graphics are a bit dark and ‘grungy’.
- Good descriptions.
16. Seattle Times Newspaper
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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 About Weather Forecast Graphic Design
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!