BBC Weather launches responsive website

Friday 21 March 2014, 14:29

Michael Burnett Michael Burnett Executive Product Manager

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This week we launched a new responsive site for BBC Weather. As our MVP (minimum viable product) release, this replaces the old feature phone Weather site with an optimised experience for feature phone and smartphone users.

It's a work-in-progress, and the first step in our plans to move to a fully responsive web solution on mobile, tablet and desktop. In true Agile, we're expecting to roll out more features and content over the coming months. Naturally we're also listening to our users as we prototype and tweak new features.

The new mobile site includes recent locations and horizontal scrolling The new mobile site includes recent locations and horizontal scrolling

Almost half our audience access Weather from mobile and tablets, and like so many online products this proportion is only going to increase. I know that many of our users (around 19%) are catered for via our Android and iOS apps, but it's been a priority for us to make sure the website is also optimised for a multitude of devices.

From previous user feedback, we can see the success of the iOS and Android app has been its simplicity and ease of use. Therefore, it's no surprise that we followed these design patterns for the responsive version of the site. Smartphone users will immediately notice the introduction of horizontally-scrolling day tabs and hourly information, like the app.

However, one key difference for web site development is the depth and richness of content available. Our static desktop website covers everything from simple location forecasts to detailed tide and coastal data, video, picture galleries, maps and infographics. We will need to reflect this in future iterations of the responsive site. For this reason, the first iteration of the responsive site is opt-in at m.bbc.co.uk/weather. We won't be automatically redirecting mobile users until we have built a satisfactory base of content and features on that platform.

Approach and prototyping

A drawing board with designs Back to the drawing board to bring together design patterns across devices and platforms

Naturally, it's been a 'mobile first' strategy for the new site and we've been keen to bring in more consistent designs patterns across all our Weather products. In the last three months, we've employed a cycle of prototyping, testing, and building to release the first version of the responsive site.

One of the key new ideas for launch is our 'Recent Locations' functionality, which stores the user's last five weather forecast locations for easy access and passive personalisation. Main features of new site include: 

* Location Search auto-suggest

* Recent locations functionality - stores your last five locations

* Horizontally scrolling hourly forecast and detail slots for smartphones

* English/Welsh versions integrated via settings

* Weather measurements available in metric or imperial

* Link to Met Office Severe Weather Warnings information

* Link to Environmental Agency Flood Warnings information

* Feedback email link to 'Tell us what you think'

Feedback

If you've already seen the site, you'll have noticed the bright yellow banner asking you to 'tell us what you think'. We've already had a healthy flow of responses - some positive, some less so. We are monitoring these responses carefully and will address any issues that come up.

any feature phone users are missing the 5 day overview so we will be reintroducing it soon Many feature phone users are missing the 5 day overview so we will be reintroducing it soon

One issue coming through loud and clear is that many users on more basic phones are missing the old vertical five-day overview. We're addressing this now and will be reintroducing the overview in the next few weeks. Feel free to tell us what you think and, if you have a particular issue, it's always helpful to tell what device you're using.

That's all for now, but I'll keep you posted on new developments and the next stages in the future.

Mike Burnett is an executive product manager for BBC Weather

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 2.

    As an amateur weather station enthusiast, anything about weather I love.
    First thoughts, just tried the new site on tablets and some pc desktops and have a large red bar for weather warnings and flood alerts. The warnings were not Red warnings, so a bit misleading. They are hidden under a settings menu in the app. I'm sure an icon would suffice.
    Must admit I hate the carousel use (like on the BBC homepage and new iPlayer) for the Desktop, to make it work like a touch screen. Shame that as that is poor for me. Would rather some smaller icons so it fits across in the space. Right and left mouse use on a Desktop with the carousel is so unintuitive and I find very few use or understand the concept.

    But nice to see with responsive design to make the apps, mobile and desktop consistent.
    The BBC weather app is a great design and will be better for the user to have them similar.

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    Comment number 3.

    Thanks Lettice for the feedback. Actually, the large red bar for weather and flood warnings is something we're looking into right now. We've been investigating more localised warnings and had been testing out some different colours, instead of red. As you rightly point out, a red banner may be slightly misleading because the warnings are colour-based (red, amber & yellow).

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    Comment number 4.

    My friend commented:
    'For sometime I have used the previous site on my Kindle 3G Keyboard.
    On holiday last Monday 17th March I found you had changed things so that it took half-a-dozen attempts before I could get anywhere, each time the Kindle crashing and having to be completely reset/rebooted before it would work. Next day I had to give up all together. It would have been better if you had left the old site available until you got the new site working properly. Later in the week I was able to access the new site but only the first 5 days are available (6 if one rotates to a landscape screen) on the Kindle. On the previous site one could scroll down to get the later days, but for some reason the Kindle will not scroll sideways on this page (though it does on those of most other websites) Clicking on the Tell us what you think‘ button only
    brings up the message Web Browser cannot download files using this protocol. Only HTTP and HTTPS protocols are supported‘ and I could see no other information given on how to get in touch, so had to wait till I got home to look on my friend's mainframe. On that I could see that there are arrows at the right end day line to scroll the display sideways, or that clicking on the 7th day does the same, however, since both these are off the screen to the right on the Kindle, neither of these options are available there. (I have just found out
    that by editing the URL to end /day5 etc, the forecasts for days 5 to 10 can be obtained). On the mainframe again clicking on the Tell us what you think‘ button only brought up an invitation to create an account with Googlemail or Yahoo Mail.'
    I think I have managed to extract the emil address for comments, which he has used to attempt to email you but does not know if he has succeeded, so I am posting this for him

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