Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers to Get First Crack at AccuWeather.com Redesign Beta

AccuWeather.com‘s 60,000-plus Facebook fans and more than 1,100 Twitter followers will get the first crack at trying out its new beta site next week, before its release to the general public, but lead developer Steve Mummey, chief information officer Steve Smith, and communications manager Justin Roberti were kind enough to give WebNewser a sneak preview.

This effort was a thorough redesign, not a design tweak, and all three AccuWeather executives stressed that the main focus was bringing users not just weather information, but information on how the weather impacts them, and to make this information as accessible and easy to find as possible.

The new site was described as “a response to feedback from users from the past couple of years,” and the challenge for AccuWeather.com was the “terabytes of data to be managed while keeping the user experience light and airy.”

The entire home page actually changes in terms of colors, backgrounds and relevant information based on the local weather in the city or ZIP code that is entered. Alongside the obvious (current conditions, forecast for the next two days), in an easily accessible spot in the top-right-hand corner, is a menu that takes users to related non-weather information under the categories Health (Aches & Pains, Allergies, Respiratory, Cardiac Health), Travel (Business, Leisure), Home & Garden (Do-It-Yourself Projects, Gardening), and Outdoor (Golf, Ski, Beach & Marine, Astronomy).

AccuWeather.com said the information that populates those categories is derived from indices that are exclusive to the company. Going outside the realm of AccuWeather, the related content that appears under the navigation section and changes depending on the users’ choices comes from third-party sources as diverse as Golf.com, Discover Boating, ShermansTravel.com, and BobVila.com.

The amount of content produced for the site and for AccuWeather’s affiliate TV stations and Websites is staggering — some 600 videos per day, all broadcast-quality, along with hundreds of maps that are updated every five minutes. The maps in the Severe Weather section incorporate Google Maps technology to allow users to pan, zoom, and move about the maps.

The National Live Feed section, immediately under the local conditions and forecast, is divided into Latest, Video, News, Blogs, Facebook, Photos, and Twitter, and also offers simple navigation.

All in all, it appears that there will be a change in the weather next week, and it’s definitely a change for the better.