BBC Weather beta

Rain or shine, we know that many of you like to access your weather forecasts through the BBC’s Weather website.

The last redesign for the website happened in 2009, and since then we’ve been working on plans to make it even better and update the site so that it benefits from the latest technological developments.

As a result, we are today launching a “beta” version of an improved site. This is a work-in-progress version of the site which will eventually replace the current version of BBC Weather Online.

So in the coming weeks, we’ll be running this beta version of the new design alongside the current Weather website, and you’ll be able to access and use both of them. During this period we’ll be ensuring that the new site operates as intended – it’s important to ensure we’ve got the basics right in order to deliver the best experience possible at full launch.

BBC Weather beta Edinburgh page

They key improvements around the new site are:

A more focused and clear homepage design gives instant access to a five day and a video forecast and also has a short summary of UK weather. The map indicates the weather conditions in selected locations at the time shown in the right hand corner, and if you’re after a more detailed full colour UK map with a five day time line just click “Detailed UK Weather”. Our international users will see a world map on their homepage.

The easily personalised forecast favourites allow you to save a range of locations to appear in the drop down menu on the right hand side of the page. With the beta, when you access the site for the first time in the UK, you’ll see the weather in Glasgow as the default option for the time being. We are working on this showing the biggest city in your nation, so bear with us.

Improved navigation across the site, allowing there to be more editorial content and audience pictures on the home page. This means the left hand side navigation has gone, and all the key content is accessible through the home page. The latest weather related stories will be where the ‘Welcome’ message is now on the beta, and news stories about climate and environment can be found from the Science and Environment section of the News website.

Last but not least, all the important, detailed weather information is still there – location pages show humidity, pressure and visibility as well as UV, pollution, pollen & observations. The country guides will also still be available, and the expectation is that the current list of countries will be available via a link on every page and will eventually become part of the country pages with the five day forecast map.

The improvements to the BBC Weather site are part of a bigger programme of change within BBC Online – we’ve been refreshing the BBC’s ten key areas or ‘products’ to move towards a more distinctive family of websites, supported by a shared infrastructure to allow more intuitive journeys between them. Last summer the BBC News website was updated, BBC iPlayer followed in September, and at the moment there is a beta running for the BBC Homepage too.

BBC Weather will still have its unique look and feel, and the new design will introduce improved and easy-to-use functionality. The redesign & introduction of new infrastructure also means that the new site will be easier for us to optimise for mobile and connected TV devices in the future.

In the past months, we have invited over a thousand users to try out prototype versions of it, but we’re still very keen to hear any feedback from you, so please have a look around the new Weather beta website. We’ve created a handy user guide accessible from the BBC Weather beta or here which should help to explain new features, and this carries a survey option. Do get in touch! We’re using the #bbcweather hashtag on Twitter to group conversation, or you can comment below.

My colleague Peter in Future Media will be writing a post on the BBC Internet blog next week with more details, and other blogs about the user experience and technical aspects of the redesign will follow.

Liz Howell is head of BBC Weather


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