Weather iMessage Extension

Weather imessage extension

Sharing weather with friends.

In October 2015, IBM purchased The Weather Company, everything except the actual TV network. A couple months later, Apple announced iMessage extensions at WWDC. Our department, always wanting to stay on top of innovative technologies, jumped at the opportunity to create an iMessage extension for The Weather Company. This was around the same time I was taking more responsibilities as a researcher and it ended up being the first project I led on my own.

User Research

I know my own habits, but I initially went out and did a number of interviews with iPhone users to ask about their habits when it comes to checking the weather. I asked my parents too, to get a multi-generational response. I asked questions about when and how they currently check the weather, if they could tell me about a time they had a conversation with someone about the weather, and what happens when the weather affects their plans. I learned that users normally check the weather in the morning and that they don't care about humidity or allergies information.

 

For our one-day design thinking session, I had the people on our team pretend to be "texting" each other via sticky notes. I gave no restrictions, they could include images, videos, or interactive content. What we got back was awesome. People on our team "chatted" with each other for a while and came up with ideas such as linking to videos, interactive maps, and geofilters. 

Express Yourself

Since a lot of people drew pictures (aka emojis) in the sticky note exercise, we chose to design our own for the extension. One of our designers, Sushi Sutasirisap, designed weather-related emojis to react to the weather with. Unfortunately, in the end, we got rid of the emoji reactions because of timeline restrictions and as suggested by Apple's Human Interface Guidelines.

For our first rounds of user testing, we used an InVision prototype. Once the extension was built, we had our other researcher actually texting the testing phone so it was as real as it could be. I had her ask questions in context to get the user to use and find all features of the extension.

I sent out a survey that I posted on Reddit and UserTesting.com to get feedback on which projection timelines (5 day view, hourly view, etc.) they preferred and how users felt about the radar section. After we decided what content would be in the extension based on user feedback, we did a round of A/B testing to fine tune the visuals.

 

Great Success!

Since it was released, the extension has been super successful. It was featured on the App Store and we got 100K downloads within one week of launch.  It was also featured as one of the top apps to download by Wired and 9to5mac.com.

 A/B testing of the card designs.

A/B testing of the card designs.