Interview: BBC Weather re-design

Why does the BBC Weather website need to be re-designed?

At the time of the weather refresh (November 2011), BBC online was going through a phase of redesigning and updating its core products (News, Homepage, TV, Sport & Radio)

Could you tell me about the decision making process for the current icon design?

Previous BBC Weather website
Current BBC Weather on air graphics vs Michael Fish and the iconic BBC Weather icons from the 1970’s
Updated BBC Weather icon set

In general, weather types are depicted by the same symbols: such as sunny by the sun, cloudy by clouds. What do you think about other possibilities of visualising weather?

We used analogies that represent the type of weather they are trying to depict. So it made sense to have a sun representing sunny weather. For us there could be no room for mis-interpretation or confusion, we are designing for a massive audience — so this wasn’t necessarily the right time to be too experimental with how to represent the weather.

Image taken from ‘The Dribbblisation of Design’ by Paul Adams

I personally feel there are two trends of visualisation for weather forecast. One is minimal icons to use a small interface efficiently without losing visibility. The other is background ambiences using pictures or motion graphics that reflect the current weather at a selected location. What do you think about these trends?

Well we definitely tried to cater for both of these in the weather design. May be we were trying to keep a little of the TV magic and glossy visuals in the design, but we incorporated ambient imagery into the backgrounds of location pages.

Do you think is it possible (or necessary) to tell a weather story on web forecast like TV forecast?

I think they are very different situations. The strength of TV weather broadcasting is having the presenter there, to guide you through what is going on. I can listen or just take in the visuals, but you get their expert analysis of this.

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Head of Product Design at The Economist. Previously at Made by Many

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Adam Morris

Adam Morris

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Head of Product Design at The Economist. Previously at Made by Many