City Desk

Washington Post’s “Improved” Weather Page

People don't need much from a newspaper's weather page or from the forecast on the evening news. You want the graphic saying what the weather will be, along with the high and the low for the day. Preferably the presentation will give you an accurate picture of the next few days.

And that's all you need. Period.

For the longest time, the Washington Post understood this basic human need. The design of its local weather page reflected as much. Brilliant in its simple, info-delivering elegance, it gave you just the snapshot you wanted. I can remember mornings when I'd flip to the last page of the Metro section, and I'd glean everything I needed in less than two seconds. Not even the Internet can beat that kind of efficiency. The glorious layout is right here, may God rest its soul:

oldweather

Somehow, the Post wasn't satisfied with perfection.

So it switched to this approach:

newweather

Answer me one question, Post: How, o how, is this an improvement? Why do you send me plunging into a mass of data just to find out what my extended outlook looks like?

Did the Capital Weather Gang force a geeking-out of the weather presentation, focusing on all kinds of climatological arcana, instead of, like, the only data we need?

Not really. According to Post news projects editor Edward Thiede, the new approach to weather was part of the overall print redesign that launches next week. Since this particular part of the project was ready to go a bit early, they let it fly.

As for the reorganization of the page and the disappearance of that marvelous, boxy extended outlook, Thiede has a pretty sound explanation: "We wanted to organize it down the left side of the page," he says. "We thought it would be one area to see all the local weather data together."

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  • http://www.jimbo.info/weblog jimbo

    What is this "printed page" or "newspaper" thing you're writing about? You mean like ink pressed onto some kind of wood product? I haven't seen one of those things in years.

  • http://dcdl.org KCinDC

    Who looks at the printed paper for weather? Do you also use it for stock quotes? How about to see what time it is?

  • BobinDC

    I was just thinking the same thing this morning about the new weather page. My pre-caffiene, pre-shower brain loved the old format. And the old format had some additional data if you really wanted it, but the focus was the important information in a large, easily readable format. The new format is too small, too ugly, and too "USA Today."

  • Erik Wemple

    Thanks so much, BobinDC---I was getting killed on this one!

  • Arthur Delaney

    The question is, Do I dislike the new format just because I'm used to the old format, or is it really as bad as it seems?

    I fear the worst, my friends.

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  • 14thStreet

    Erik, I completely agree with you. The Sunday print edition is even worse than the picture you show here (they try to fit everything on half a page.) Bring back the old design!

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  • Mickey Mike

    I concur Erik. The old format in my opinion was sufficient to cater to those of us who want it 'quick-at-a-glance' to plan for the week. I'm not against change at all, but now since they (the Post) has discombobulated the part of my brain that the old layout is imprinted; I now have to re-train it to quickly zero in the new layout to glean what I need. Should take two to three days. :-)

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