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How to Design Weather

Dafna Katz
|
September 21, 2022

Through my job at 200Apps I was lucky enough to be the one to re-design the Yerushamayim app. For those of you who are not familiar, Yerushamayim is a weather app for Jerusalem. While it has over 100,000 downloads, the app was quite outdated, overloaded with parameters and data, and ill-suited for a smartphone.

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Screens taken from the previous Yerushamayim app.

Stage 1 - Research:

We got the ball rolling with a joint UI meeting including both our team and the client. First, the client told us how he sees the project through his eyes. Next, we had to answer a few basic questions regarding the project: What is the project exactly? Who is going to need it? Why would they need it? Etc. Only after properly defining the project’s needs, goals, challenges, and measures of success, can we set out and get started.

Competitor Research:

We had mapped out our different competitors according to their characteristics (size, location, advantages, disadvantages, etc.) In addition, we tried to understand the rationale behind their similarities , as well as their differences. The purpose of this process is to better understand where Yerushamayim fits in, and what would allow it to differentiate itself and stand-out.

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Mapping-out competitors, from Competitors Research

We have defined what makes Yerushamayim unique around three main characteristics:  Accuracy, Community, Experience:

  1. Accuracy - Yerushamayim’s data and is much more accurate than its competitors, since it is based on information relayed from local weather stations (rather than calculations and estimates based on data from remote stations.)
  2. Community - the app garners a vibrant and diverse local community. This community votes on the ”Chill Index” (a measure of how it feels at the given moment), posts pictures, participates in forum discussions, and more.
  3. Accessibility  - Yerushamayim takes the raw and “dry” weather data and transforms it into a lighthearted and fun experience, with a humorous and genuine tone.
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A diagram showing Yerushamayim’s unique characteristics

User Research:

We have mapped-out the app’s different end-users and their features. To do so, we have used data sourced from the app’s pre-existing Facebook page and its Google Play page. Additionally, we used several tools such as Google Trends and SimilarWeb, alongside user interviews.

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User Personas, taken from User Research

We wanted to find out:

  • What are the typical users (ages, gender, geographic location, socio-economic status etc.)?
  • When do they use the app?
  • Why do they use the app and what are the needs being satisfied in using it?
  • What do the users like about the app?
  • Is there anything they feel that is missing?
  • What are the pain points in using the app?

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Yerushamayim use chart, taken from User Research

This research helped us understand and distinguish several types of users:

  • Most users are Hebrew-speaking women, aged 24-40, that live in Jerusalem and come from a middle to higher-middle class socio-economic status.
  • Additional audiences include: Weather geeks, parents, teenagers, athletes, English-speakers, and people who frequent Jerusalem (e.g., have a job in the city).
  • Users are most engaged with the app during wintertime, and considerably more so during snows.
  • The users wish to be well-prepared for the outside weather for both short- and long-term. So, for instance, they want to know how to dress, and how to plan ahead for different outdoor activities.
  • What the users like: Accuracy, accessibility, Humor, and the personal touch.
  • What they dislike: Crashes, bugs, and ads.

Stage I summary:

The primary conclusion we have reached from our research was that Yerushamayim should enable its users to be ready, weather-wise, for upcoming outdoor events, in both short and long term. This conclusion is based on our main assumption about weather:

Weather is not only numbers, parameters, and data. Weather is an experience, a unique everyday occurrence, it dictates ‘what it means to me,’ ‘how does it makes me feel,’ and how am I going to plan my day accordingly: What I will do, how I will do it, when will I do it, and for how long. Therefore, the weather Yerushamayim wants to offer is much more than just the common weather report that we typically describe as temperatures and other parameters.

Stage II - User Experience:

With the conclusions reached during research stage, and most notably the users’ desires and needs from the app, we set the groundwork for formulating the user experience (UX). And so, we began the UX process by trying to translate the dry, convoluted parameters into fun and simple day-to-day activities the users regularly partake, which are affected by the weather, and are suited for its Jerusalem audience.

For example: “Sporting Activities in Gan Sacher (Sacher Park)” is one of the most popular activities in Jerusalem. Sports in general, are activities that requires a certain kind of clothing. This activity is not recommended when it is dusty, when it rains, or in times of extreme heat, due to the health risks involved. Specifically, Sporting activities in Gan Sacher takes into account that the weather conditions in Gan Sacher, which is in a valley, is different than the weather conditions elsewhere, up a mountain for example.

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Taken from User Experience 

We have adapted the different activities to different users, creating detailed use-cases that consider the activity itself (the what), the proper clothing (the how), and time (the when). So, for instance, an athletic user might want to know when and how it would be best to go out for a sporting activity.

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Use-Cases, taken from User Experience section

The next step was defining the app’s architecture based on the different use-cases. From there we have moved on to sketching wireframes and building a prototype which allowed us to assess product usability by different types of users (and to later illustrate the micro-animations for the programmers).

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Application Sitemap, taken from User Experience

Note that Yerushamayim’s three unique characteristics we have discussed during the research stage are reflected throughout the interface designing process. For example, community is reflected in several areas, such as:

  • A new separate tab dedicated to “Community Photos.”
  • A quick and simple way to vote on the Chill Index (by pressing the “like” button) that encourages users to participate and take an active part in the community.
  • The Microcopy is shaped around community association (for example: “You’ve just joined hundreds of other Jerusalem voters”).

Increasing user engagement with the app will enable its success.

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Wireframes, taken from User Experience

Towards the end of the user experience stage, we created a features list and determined their merit by comparing user value against implementation complexity. In the first version of the app, we prioritized features that would maximize user value with minimal resources used.

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Using the MoSCow method to prioritize first version features

Stage III - Design and Branding

We start this stage by building a branding concept around “Yerushamayim, much more than just weather.” Choosing an illustrated and animated graphic design preserved some of the original identity of the existing brand, characterized by the illustrations and animations of the city of Jerusalem.

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Icons, taken from Application Branding

Using a hand-written font style suggested there is an actual person behind the app, making the weather inviting and approachable in a personal and friendly manner.

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Typography, taken from Application Branding

We took advantage of a wide spectrum of colors in designing the chill index, depicting how the weather feels and being experienced at any given time.

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Taken from Application Branding section

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Screens taken from the Design section

Stage IV - Development

For this stage both designers and programmers sit down to go over the project, hand over different resources, match expectations and get in-sync. We have decided to use React-Native as the app’s framework which is cost-effective and allows faster development times. As the development stage got closer to completion, we have performed several design and code QA processes.

Stage V - Support and Enhancements

Right after the app’s re-lunch we have received feedback from Yerushamayim’s vibrant community, in part thanks to surveys spread using social media. Using this feedback, we could fine-tune and optimize the experience of using the app. For instance, we have realized the functionality of one of the screens was not clear enough for the users, so we have adjusted accordingly by narrowing down the number of options presented on the screen and improving usage clarity.

Additionally, we continue to provide ongoing support and maintenance for the app as needed. For example, a recent update to Apple’s guidelines required account deletion from within app. We have adjusted the app and added that option, keeping it in-line with Apple’s guidelines and kept access to tens of thousands of Yerushamayim’s users with Apple devices, same as with Android.

Go to the project’s page

Download for Android

Download for iOS

Assisted with authoring this article: Anat Hajaj

Translated from Hebrew: Ariel Sharvit

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