The Weather Channel companies on Wednesday launched a redesign of Weather.com, one of the most popular sites on the Internet, with a streamlined look and new personalization features.
The relaunch -- exclusively sponsored by Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light Lime -- lands on the 30th anniversary of the network's first on-air broadcast, May 2, 1982.
Weather.com now displays an immediate view of current local weather conditions, based on visitors' selections. The redesign is intended to better convey "the feel of the weather," according to the company, and provide more localized news content, increased social integration, enhanced maps and a feature that predicts when it will rain down to 15-minute increments.
The website is one of the 20 most-visited sites in the U.S., with 54 million unique visitors in March 2012, according to research firm comScore. Weather.com delivers about 1 billion page views per month, about 95% of which will be updated in the new design.
"The new Weather.com inspires you to plan and make decisions about your day, your commute, your activities, by combining our unique forecasting technology with a user's location and personal interests," said Mike Finnerty, vice president of weather.com at The Weather Channel companies.
New local features on Weather.com include: a "Right Now" page, which dynamically changes based on weather, location and interests; weather-triggered backgrounds based on current conditions; and a simplified interface that makes the page 50% shorter to improve navigation. The website is able to track individual preferences and prioritizes a user's favorite elements, such as maps or video, higher on the page.
In addition, the new Weather.com provides more social tools, including trending keyword graphics to provide a glimpse of what others in a user's area are saying about the weather. A "social emergency broadcast system" lets users share severe alerts on their social networks; a future planned enhancement will let Weather.com members see who in their social networks is affected by severe weather.
Weather.com also enhances video features on the site, with an embedded player offers that provides auto and continuous play. A tutorial video on the redesign is available at www.weather.com/services/tutorial-redesign/overview.html.
The company said it tested the beta version of the site with about 1% of its users. In prepping the design, Weather Channel conducted consumer research, including eye-tracking methods. "We set out to find what the site did not currently offer [users]," according to Finnerty.
With the site overhaul, the Weather.com U.S. version is more consistent with the designs of its apps for iPad and Windows, its mobile website and its international homepage, the company said.
The Weather Channel is owned by NBCUniversal and private-equity firms The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital.
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