On the creation of iMapWeather


About nine months ago the Balcom Agency’s Chip Hanna, Interactive Account Director and Brian Blankenship, Interactive Creative Director were given a problem to solve.

“We actually had an existing relationship with one of the guys at Weather Design Technologies,” Hanna said. “He told us about this product they had that was really cool, but that they were missing the mark on how to bring it to consumers.”

Once they were given the problem, Hanna and Blankenship spent some time thinking about the challenge and then holed themselves up in a Starbucks. After many, many cups of coffee, the idea for iMapWeather was born.

“After all that coffee, we finally thought about making a social version,” Hanna said. “We didn’t want to create another social network or do what every one else was doing. They all own their markets. But here’s a different way to look at what’s going on, a way for people to connect through the weather. There’s nowhere else that you can share pictures, videos, and short messages that’s just focused on the weather.”

When Hanna and Blankenship had a concept they set to work on the design and turned to the nerds at Sierra Bravo to help them implement their idea.

“Sierra Bravo helped us get our ideas more focused and get them on paper,” Hanna said. “They’ve been able to find a lot of areas where we can be more efficient, and offered great solutions on how to serve the weather data better. They’ve been a big help with the planning and then implementing every single bit of it.”

And though the nerds were all about helping implement this brilliant idea, the great design of the site sprung from the head of Blankenship.

“I have to say, I got a lot of inspiration from Obama’s site. I’m not exactly sure why, but this was while the debates were going on,” Blankenship said. “His site was so much better than anything out there, and they were doing a better job than anyone else on the social aspect.”

Blankenship said he really is proud of how the social aspect of iMapWeather, especially things like the embedded map (soon you’ll be able to adjust the map’s size) that you can grab and put on your website. Design-wise really digs the sprouts


He also really likes the “sprouts” (the orange pluses) that sprout out different icons as you mouse over them to indicate the kinds of content that has been shared about that location.

“One of the things I think is pretty cool is the background,” Blankenship said. “It autodetects what the weather is like in the visitor’s area and reflects the weather and time of day. We thought it would be difficult to do, but Ben [Dolmar, a Programmer/Analyst at Sierra Bravo] made it work.”

This is the second part of a three part series on iMapWeather. Part 1 is here. Part 3 will focus on some of the challenges the project faced and how iMapWeather brings geo-targeting ads to a whole new level.

iMapWeather addictive, timely social network about weather

Yesterday the Balcom Agency launched iMapWeather,. The Nerdery had the fine, fine pleasure of helping them build this social network that lets people connect about all things weather related.

It seems like an odd bit of magical synchronicity that iMapWeather launches while North Dakota faces the worst floods they’ve seen since 1997, in fact the Red River is expected to crest this weekend more than a foot above 1997’s record-setting level. The Nerdery is keeping a close eye on the situation in ND. In fact, Tom O’Neill has rustled up a gang of nerds to head up to Fargo this weekend and help with the sandbagging efforts.

Now, thanks to iMapWeather, I can’t seem to stop watching a live shot of the river in Grand Forks that a user posted.

And this is just what the creators of iMapWeather were going for.

“We looked around and said, ‘All right there’s nothing out there that offers people a real way to connect through the weather,'” Chip Hanna, Interactive Account Director at Balcom Agency, said. “There’s nowhere else that you can upload photos, share video and other information all related to the weather.”

iMapWeather is a joint venture between Balcolm Agency and Weather Decision Technologies, The Nerdery helped them bring their vision to life.

Next week we’ll tell you about how that vision came about and what we did to help it along.