Last week, the cover was lifted from the largest project I’ve ever worked on. The new WillyWeather website is now available to opt in. The old website will run in parallel for a limited time, to ease long-time users through the transition.
WillyWeather is a much-loved brand in Australia, with 15% of the population frequenting it on iOS, Android or the Web every month. Redesigning a well-established image and product is a daunting task; knowing that, no matter what, you will inevitably be on the receiving end of reactionary feedback from those adverse to change. Nonetheless, feedback has been very positive.
The new website is packed with excellent new features, including:
- Three-hourly weather forecasts
- Extremely detailed and customisable forecast and observational graphs
- Mappable forecast and observational imagery
- Historical weather statistics
- An overhauled Account System with paid features like SMS Notifications and Ad-Free browsing
We think it’s the best weather site around and hope you do to!
Something my friend @mattieryan and I have in common is an appreciation of visualised data. Whenever we ship anything, it’s a joy to watch the numbers fly in as people experience a product. We wanted a better way to do this from our phones, so we made another app. It’s called Stat; a super-light-weight Google Analytics tool and, in many ways, is the archetype of our approach to making software.
Stat is simple, instant Google Analytics on your iPhone. Think of it like Weather.app for your Analytics Properties:
- Add up to twenty profiles and easily swipe through them
- Display all the metrics you care about and none that you don’t
- Get a real-time count of how many people are using your site or app right now
- Give each profile a theme and alias for fast recognition as you swipe
Stat is a simple platform with plenty of options for expansion. We have plans for the Apple Watch and more just around the corner. For now, we hope you like Stat 1.0.
Get Stat on the App Store
I’ve been casually working with my friends at Anomaly Software since early 2012. Back then, they went under a different moniker and were beginning a shift from consulting to a product-based business.
Three years on and they boast a suite of modern products—some proprietary, others free-to-use and more preparing for launch later in the year—backed by a new brand, business model and approach.
I helped name the business, design the logo and the foundations of the website, which will be rolling out in stages throughout the year.
Advocating the Python programming language, Closure Tools, App Engine and other modern web application technologies, Anomaly maintains Prestans, a WSGI-compliant REST framework and is preparing to release Twine, a mouldable task manager for the Web and iOS.
I’m really excited about what we’re working on this year. For more information, visit anomaly.net.au
As part of a recent update, I removed the contact form from this website and replaced it with a simple
mailto link. It started with a quick code review on GitHub. It bothered me that there was a small dirty-blue band at the end of the language graph tagged as ‘PHP’. My first instinct was to go and recreate the whole thing in Ruby, but then it dawned on me that I couldn’t think of a single advantage to using a contact form over a plain old email link.
To confirm I wasn’t alone in my thinking, I tweeted a quick poll. I received half a dozen replies, all voting for plain, old email.
The advantages are huge:
- A copy of the message is stored in the Sent mailbox
- It’s possible to save a draft while working
- People are familiar with their email client interfaces
- Attachments can be included
Essentially, contact forms are a black hole at the mercy of AJAX, your server, the browser and more. Arguably, they may influence the supplied content and reduce incoming junk but spam is a developer’s problem, not a user’s, and there are always ways around those ‘required’ fields you may have defined. Contact forms create user-friction, while email just works.
My wife has been working closely with my friends at Anomaly Software to produce an interactive children’s book for the iPad. It’s called Where’s My Whisper? and is designed for children under the age of about 8.
I had little to do with this project other than watch it from the sideline, but it was great to see creative people working together to produce something special:
Their are a few geeky treats happening behind the scenes; dynamic weather and daytime vs nighttime artwork, alternate pages and the odd Easter egg.
The first version is available for iPad on the App Store with several updates in the pipeline. If you have or know children young enough to enjoy the book, pick up a copy and leave a review!