Met Window. An entry for the YCN student Awards

Earlier this month, everyone on my course entered the YCN (You Can Now) student awards, an annual creative competition that encourages students to work on live projects for brands such as Pearson, Royal Opera House and Met Office.

My brief was to create social media content for the Met Office, the UK's leading meteorology and weather forecasting organisation. The brief was to inform people of the weather using their existing or new social media channels. The majority of the course chose to work on briefs for other companies, which meant there was a small group of us working on this one, so we were able to help each other and easily share ideas and thoughts on each other's projects. 

 The You Can Now and Met Office Logos

The You Can Now and Met Office Logos

I started by brainstorming ideas for how social media could be used to tell the weather, and although there were lots of obvious examples, I tried to focus on new and upcoming technology. Live video and broadcasting are increasingly becoming mainstream, starting with the app Periscope which brought live videos to the mass market, this was quickly followed by Instagram and the world's biggest social media platform Facebook. I liked the idea of focusing on Live video because it is still a fairly new idea (on a smartphone) yet it is established enough to be a workable and realistic idea. 

I carried out a survey amongst people on my course asking them about their weather checking habits. The main trend that emerged was that many people want to be aware of the weather each day, however opening a specific app to check each morning is simply too much effort. My primary and secondary online research also found that most people are opening Instagram each morning - when they wake up or are having breakfast. This research really informed by thinking and helped be create a clear idea to move forward with.

The research process for this project was particularly thorough and I created a document collating all of my findings. This was invaluable later on as when making design or product decisions, I could refer back to my research to see what was the best decision to take. This has really informed me a lot about the importance of conducting thorough research before starting any project. 

My idea was to use Instagram stories to push a daily weather forecast to users' phones. The stories could feature live videos or near-real time weather footage along with a simple descriptive forecast. Since people are opening Instagram in the mornings, if the Met Office forecast was waiting for them all they have to do is watch their stories as normal, and users can get informed of the day's weather. I later came up with the name Met Window, as the screen acts like a window showing the real-time weather outside.

 My Logo Mark for the project 

My Logo Mark for the project 

Over the next few weeks, I worked on the design and started to record weather footage that I could potentially use in mockups and concepts. I made a photoshop file which mimicked the Instagram Stories format and played around with the different design, icons and colours. Reflecting the Met Office's brand guidelines, I wanted to incorporate the vibrant green used on their logo. I created designs which could be overlaid on top of the weather footage and uploaded to Instagram stories, so users experience the simplicity of Stories but with more information.

 User Interface ideas and concepts for Instagram Stories

User Interface ideas and concepts for Instagram Stories

I spent a few weeks trying out different designs and gaining feedback and opinions. A lot of people said they liked the designs where the weather summary was bold and clear, allowing them to very quickly get a good understanding of the day's weather. I continued to refine designs and experiment with different fonts. I used Brandon Grotesk in all caps as it is a bold and heavy typeface however the subtly rounded corners give it a more friendly and approachable charm. 

 Typeface Selection for User Interface

Typeface Selection for User Interface

As well as live video and a brief weather summary, I wanted to incorporate weather icons which could also help users get a quick understanding of the weather. The Met Office has an existing set of icons which they use on TV, online and in their apps and they deliberately use the same icons across platforms for consistency. I wanted to enhance the icons to freshen them up and make them feel a bit more modern so I cleaned up some of the lines and adjusted shapes and colours. I tried to keep a similarity between my refreshed icon set and the existing icons, so they would not look out of place in relation to the Met Office brand.

 Original Icons above and my refreshed Icons below

Original Icons above and my refreshed Icons below

After lots of experimenting, I knew that I needed to finalise the design style so I could move forward in the project. This was particularly hard as I had to make decisions on what to cut and what to keep. In the end, I chose the font style I originally started with however it would be shown on a separate screen to the live video. One of the problems with my early designs was that all of the elements were fighting for attention, however; by breaking up the design into 3 screens which would flow together, there was space for the design elements to breathe, and time for the viewer to read and understand what they are viewing. 

Now that I had a robust design language, I thought about how Met Window could tell the weather forecast, not just on a smartphone, but on other screens. In London, on the 2020 deep level tube, advertising boards are being replaced with digital screens, which can display any moving content. I created a concept for Met Window to work on these screens, so passengers deep underground, could see the weather at the next station, almost like a window.  I used this design language on digital billboards too and tv screens. Particularly useful in underground stations, the billboards give a live look at the view above, helping commuters stay one step ahead of the weather.   

To communicate this project in the best way, I created a website adammarsh.design which explained the concept and showed off all of the details in a clear visual way. 

This was a project I really enjoyed as the simple brief allowed for great exploration and pushed me to respond in an interesting way. The goal of the brief was simple, it was to tell the weather forecast using social media, however, there was a much bigger problem that needed to be addressed. The Met Office has very little brand presence amongst the general public, this was backed up by my research. Many people have heard of it, but very few people would go out of their way to use a Met Office product, so with my response to the brief, I also tried to address this. By using Instagram stories it brings the Met Office product to the general public with ease.

This project more than anything has shown me the importance of research as it enabled me to make bold decisions and narrow down my idea. I really got involved with every aspect of the process from research, ideas, product development, design and presentation, which enabled me to execute a response I was really pleased with. In future projects, I'll make sure I get involved thoroughly at every stage as I have learnt how important it is and what a difference it makes to the end result.

When working on this project I wanted to win an award however it was never at the forefront of my mind. My priority was to do great work and make something  I was proud of. This project ended up winning a YCN award which makes all of the hard work really rewarding.

UALAdam Marshual