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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Unsettled British Weather

BBC weather graphics (very) old and new

The BBC has revamped its weather graphics, with 3D maps and areas of rain/shadow replacing the 2D ones covered in simple symbols (which had remained largely unchanged for years).

My immediate reaction is that it’s… iffy. On a superficial level, the brown looks dreary and depressing, and the typography doesn’t seem to quite fit in with the rest of the BBC’s current identity. At times the perspective significantly distorts the view of the UK (the SNP isn’t happy), and is abandoning symbols the right thing to do? Certainly the new maps give a more precise prediction of shade and precipitation, but some people aren’t able to precisely pinpoint their own location anyway and I think many will struggle to interpret the layered three-dimensional imagery.

Similar issues arise all the time in design; knowing what level of abstraction to use when presenting information is crucial, and often involves resisting the lures of both extreme minimal symbolism and flashy realistic imagery. I reckon the BBC weather forecast will slip back a little towards abstraction over time, and the green and pleasant land will surely return to replace bleak desert.

(update: the perspective has now been altered)


We have had this style in New Zealand for several years. It's great for getting an overview of time related changes, fronts moving over etc, but not so good for location specific stuff like temperatures etc.
The BBC are using NZ software, the colours are definitely their choose as our maps are much closer to real colours.

Robin Capper, 21st May, 1:37pm

I like the new format but that hideous colour of the British Isles leaves much to be desired.

— Sally in Kent, 8th Jun, 10:33pm

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