Archives for October 2014

October 26, 2014 - No Comments!

Just in time


Contextual alerts

The bringing information to the top, or near the top of the hierarchy based on some relevant change of mode or condition.

In this case we wanted to provide some additional value to the forecast, to tell not just what is going to happen, but why. To tell weather's story with a little more lore.

The test was to see if an informational tab that focused on an upcoming severe weather event (ie lightning) added to the forecast area garnered attention and increased time on page or provided a bump to other content types featured in the tab (photos, informational blog posts).

Debating placement, integration into an existing section, an interstitial addition or a contextual addition. The interstitial was rejected because the city page is already very content dense, and our users have experienced a good amount of change so adding a new module with limited testing was not a good choice, and the temporary contextual module seemed too disruptive, sometimes there, sometimes not. Making it's transitory nature make sense would be a challenge, and volatile interfaces have not tested well with our audience. The addition of a tab into the forecast graph puts in where it makes sense, the use of color and icon can be used to refine it's place in the hierarchy, and can be a/b tested without being as disruptive to the normal experience as the other options.

October 16, 2014 - No Comments!

You are here


Breadcrumb navigation pattern

Complex information can present interesting navigation challenges. The Weather Underground static radar maps merge multiple scale levels including a single site interface. The previous navigation did not have a clear way of navigating across levels.


The Old Way

The previous region to region navigation is a single long list.


The New Way

The chosen solution is a hybrid breadcrumb trail, allowing users to see where they are, and at what scale level while making it easy to jump to the next location they want to view.

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October 1, 2014 - No Comments!

Lite-Brite Weather Map

Weather map, behind the scenes

A Home-Made Weather Map

Also on
Continuing the post-hackathon weather gadget making, fueled by the Spark Core (Think Arduino with WiFi) I got from Zack at TechCrunch and liking shiny lights, I started on the weather map. A matrix of addressable LEDs that were in the general form of the United States. The idea was that the spark could talk to the Weather Underground API, pull down temperature data for each of the lat/long locations assigned to each light, and the light would change color to reflect the temperature.

The built in WiFi made talking to the API pretty straight forward, the challenge was more about memory and the API limit, making 100 requests per map refresh was not something my free api account could sustain. Luckily the API team helped me out with my limit to keep the project going.

The big break came when Adam Williams got involved, he was able to program the light matrix to show temperature, precipitation, and storms.

Light Brite Weather Map

Bonus story: while working on the map all the lights switched purple (not assigned to anything), cluing the team into an API problem. Needless to say it was almost immediately fixed and the map came back to life. My little side project accidentally became useful.

Tech detail: 100x rgb addressable LEDs with WS2801 controllers in series, attached to a Spark core being fed data over wifi from the Weather Underground API. Powered by a 5v 2A wall wart plug.