One of my favorite details in The Current, the Orange County Register’s new daily newspaper for Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, is the weather page.
Ask anyone who has worked with me and they will tell you that I love weather. I love weather stories. I love weather photos. I love to build huge local weather websites.
Since I got to help build a sports site in Augusta, Ga., back in 1999, I have loved it when a local site’s weather page feels like it belongs to that exact area.
To do that, we integrated a little bit of local imagery into the weather graphics. It wasn’t rocket surgery. It might have even seemed a little kitschy, but it made our point that this was our community’s forecast.
It’s fun when a news website winks at you. That’s what that old weather site in Augusta did.
By the time I got to the Lawrence Journal-World in 2002 with my friend – and designer extraordinaire – Dan Cox, we had taken the concept a little further. It looked like this:
The five-day forecast from the Lawrence Jourrnal-World’s old website, featuring the skyline of the University of Kansas.
We experimented with this idea a little more when a group of us worked at the Naples Daily News, and by the time we had all arrived in Las Vegas, we were ready to take it to the next level.
To this day, I believe the Las Vegas Sun has the best local weather website in the nation.
Todd Soligo designed something spectacular. Programmer Sean Stoops built something that was not only amazing, but also updated auto-magically. Editors Tim and Cara Richardson filled the Sun’s weather site with super-helpful and interesting information and photos.
This time, the five-day forecast was animated. And there might be some super fun Easter eggs, if you know the secret handshake. The whole weather site dripped with personality. Literally. On super hot days, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign melts.
The five-day forecast from the Las Vegas Sun’s website, featuring the area’s world-famous resorts and casinos.
Once we knew we were going to make our recently relaunched weekly newspaper, The Current, a daily newspaper, I was determined to take a page from the play books of those other online weather sites and apply those concepts to print.
Weather pages in most newspapers look so similar from city to city that it drives me nutty. Yes, I get it – newspaper weather information is content that we typically get from syndication services. And those services save us production time, doing a lot of the heavy lifting for us.
The downside is that most newspaper weather pages lack personality or even a nod to their hometowns.
We decided to make our weather page for Newport Beach and Costa Mesa include all sorts of cool local information, but also to present it in a way that says, “Yep, this weather page will only work in this here newspaper. And, yes, those are images from our hometowns.”
To do it, we reached out to illustrator god Chris Morris. The guy knocked it out of the park. Each day’s illustration has 5 or 6 variations to handle different forecasts and situations. Chris made sure the illustrations were filled with character and his distinct style.
And Helayne Perry designed a great page that made it all work. I know I have a horse in this race, but the results make up my favorite weather page in any local newspaper.
The weather page for our new daily newspaper in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, The Current.
This was one of the many lessons I learned from my mentor in journalism, Bill Snead: Always try to give your readers a gift, something that there’s no way they could have expected from your newspaper.
I wrote about this idea a year or so ago:
When Bill was the editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, the newspaper’s weather page included a reader-submitted photo. I always loved that, too.
So, the new Current has that, as well.
Thank you, Bill.