Hi! I need your feedback, if you wouldn’t mind. Several readers have chimed in over the past week or two about how I could better design the maps that appear here on The Vane to make them more readable for both desktop and mobile users. I aim to please, so if you have any comments or suggestions about how I can make my maps better, please let me know.

Last summer, I began making maps for different weather events—precipitation, temperatures, severe weather, hurricanes, long-range outlooks, and drought coverage—so I didn’t have to rip ugly, generic maps from the source. It’s been well received overall, but it’s time for a change.

The biggest example of the need for change came in yesterday’s post about severe thunderstorms threatening just about everyone near the East Coast. The combination of blue severe thunderstorm watches, faint county lines, dense city names, and the dark NASA satellite imagery as a background made it impossible for some people to read the graphic.

As a response to this and other feedback, I’ve made the following changes:

  • Increased the height of the maps by 60 pixels—from 970x576 to 970x636—so they feel less smooshed.
  • A lighter background image that uses light blue water and light green/brown land.
  • Thickened state boundary lines and darker county boundary lines.
  • Increased the font size of city names by one point.
  • Adjusted some of the legends so they take up the least amount of space possible while still being readable and easy to understand.

Here’s the result of the updates, applied to the same map above (ignore the incorrect caption):

Here are a few more examples, including...

...a snapshot of this evening’s radar...

...the severe weather outlook issued on April 27, 2011...

...and a look at drought severity across the country as of Tuesday, June 23:

What do you like about these maps? Dislike? What could I do to improve them? Do you have ideas for other types of maps?

I appreciate any feedback you can give. Your suggestions will help me make better products for you.

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