On one hand, it’s a bold claim to say you’ve designed an app around Dieter Rams’s famed 10 Principles of Design. And on the other, how could you design an app otherwise?
WTHR is an iPhone weather app ($1) by David Elgena that scales the entire experience of weather down to one page. There are no settings screens, no ads, no weather radars, and no chances of rain. It’s a single screen experience—an absurd rarity, you realize, as soon as you load it. And you’ll never need to push any buttons.
Instead, a dial spins to the forecast of the day, showing an icon of clouds, sun, or rain. Simple typopgrahy says the forecast in as few words as possible: "Cloudy & 77°." Below that, you can see the seven-day forecast. And below that, a simple toggle: F° to C°.
The Rams comparisons are by no means subtle—the minimal, white dial and switch feels like it could be lifted from a Rams design—but the app does follow the 10 principles. It’s innovative (there is no weather app like it), it’s useful (it’s a weather forecast), it’s aesthetic (it’s unmistakably styled), and … well, we don’t need to go through all the points.
Remarkably, the iPhone weather app of choice is becoming a harder and harder decision. It’s almost like the burger has become to haute chefs, a universally understood template from which to riff for the masses. We’ve seen apps that tell the weather through clothing, or tell the temperature to the moment. Heck, we’ve even seen apps that make you "feel" the temperature.
All of these are good ideas from a design standpoint. Most would hold up well to Rams’s scrutiny. But whether or not any of them can permeate our collective consciousness, I’m curious. Despite having tested several weather apps on Co.Design, I find myself defaulting to the horrendously ugly, overloaded Weatherbug. And it’s for one reason, and one reason only: It’s the only source I’ve found that pulls the weather from a station a few blocks away. Living on Chicago’s lakefront, this microclimate is a strange thing to define, and is often dramatically different than anywhere else in the city.
For me, all of these apps miss the single most important part of weather predictions: The promise of accuracy. They exude ease of use, but at the same expense as a beauty queen in a swimsuit competition—I won’t take anything pretty seriously that hasn’t first won over my skeptical nature. Even if all weather reports are a bit bogus—or maybe because of it—it’s possible that the primary approach to weather app design shouldn’t be beauty or ease of use. Maybe it should first be trustability, and the rest should follow from there.
[Hat tip: mocoloco]