Met Office : Releasing animation

An animated graphic in an online press release could be an idea worth emulating.

click to view

The feature

An August 12th press release from the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service, uses an animated graphic to illustrate how a series of thunderstorms was expected to develop over a two-day period.

The animation begins when visitors click on the page (but users must scroll down to see it). The graphic is simple in design – it shows a map of the UK, and then a series of blue bubbles with white text start to appear, each describing the next phase in the forecast: eg, ‘Two waves of thunderstorms. First wave Thursday early, hours, second wave Thursday afternoon and evening.’ The graphic bubbles finish in about 30 seconds and after a minute the graphic repeats on a loop.

The takeaway

The Met Office example is not without problems. It is basic in design and looks a little old-fashioned. The graphic begins automatically when visitors come to the page, but appears below the fold, so users will likely view it in a partial state by the time they scroll down to see it, which could be confusing. It would be better if users were invited to click to start it. The embedded YouTube video higher up on the page – also a rare feature in press releases – allows users to click to play.

As an idea though, animated graphics are worth considering for corporate online press offerings. We have not seen them used in press releases before, and they could be a good way to explain complex processes or concepts, in the pharmaceutical or engineering sectors, for example.
First published 02 September, 2015
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