November 3, 2014 - No Comments!



Sketch 3, first draft

Sketch 3 was introduced to me as a photoshop killer, which of course it is not. Once I got over the enthusiastic introduction, and accepted it as a new and different thing it seemed to be a bit easier to give it a chance.

To get an idea of what sketch was about I took on something familiar, reproducing the Weather Underground homepage, it made focusing on the tools and how they worked easy.

It has it's own logic for how it imagines things to be built, and while it makes sense and makes some things fast, sensible to edit in an iterative workflow, some generative tasks felt slower and clunky to me. It may be that I am so used to my Adobe workflow, shortcuts, etc so I will give it more time.

I had started to use Keynote here and there for quickie wireframes and medium fidelity mocks, and this has a similar feel with way more power.

I have a few side projects I can run though it to see how I feel after putting a few more miles on it.




I was pretty grumpy when one of my first projects was unreadable and I lost some time, but with a tentative pardon I gave it another go. Once I gave it some traction on real site projects (multi-page, multi-option exploration) the tool really opened up.

Now I am that guy in the office evangelizing "oh sketch can automate that, oh sketch has a plugin for that"

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.

September 30, 2014 - No Comments!

TechCrunch 2014

Tech Crunch 2014 hackathon

Another year at the gigantic hackathon that is TechCrunch with Weather Underground. We had a few devs from the API team out to support the hackers that might have questions pop up and help them along. I came out to support the devs with boxes of little electronic bits and we hacked together little things to pass the slow spots as the clock went around the small hours.


Tech Crunch hackathon

Tim learning the ways of the Arduino with the Spark Core

Wheres WUMO







The material I designed for last year's TechCrunch is HERE

September 28, 2014 - No Comments!

Classic For Kids 2014

The Classic for Kids

The classic is an annual charity golf tournament held in Napa, California to raise funds for the Solano Kids Insurance Program(SKIP). SKIP enables eligible Solano County children to receive health and dental care insurance. These children typically do not qualify for government sponsored programs such as Medi-Cal and come from families who can not afford health insurance for their children. Since 2007, the Classic for Kids Golf Tournament has raised close to two million dollars for this worthwhile cause.

In 2014 the event was recognized for being the sole fund raiser for the Solano Children's Insurance Program, which is credited with taking the county from having the highest rate of uninsured children in the state, to the lowest.

As a reminder of why the work is so important, we were able to have a special guest speaker, a mother who had been touched by the program, and her daughter, who is now in college.

I participated as a member of the conceiving team (This was originally a Solano Magazine project), worked on the identity and collateral, and continue to support with design work and as the event photographer. Busy!