How The Weather Channel Stood Out in a Crowded Market by Building a Customized, User-Centric App

How The Weather Channel Stood Out in a Crowded Market by Building a Customized, User-Centric App

Kevin Crenshaw

It’s no secret that the mobile app market is a crowded one. With millions of different players to compete against — the most successful of which often spend tremendous amounts of money on ideation, execution and promotion — developers need to make sure that they can find a cost-effective, sustainable way to reach their audience. This was a key reason The Weather Channel decided to partner with Samsung when they approached us in February of last year to have our app featured in their Made for Samsung program.

With only 3,000 apps featured at any given time, Galaxy Apps’ limited selection of high-quality content naturally lends itself to higher discovery rates. But to successfully draw in consumers and keep them engaged in the long run, we also knew that we’d need to deliver a unique proposition value. Ultimately, we focused on including a few specific features that helped consumers make full use of the unique capabilities that their Samsung devices and operating systems offered. Here are a few examples that we implemented in The Weather Channel App for Samsung.

Edge Alerts

The edge alerts feature provides value to our users by displaying breaking news and weather alerts on the edge of the device screen, even when it’s lying flat. This is especially valuable during periods of severe weather when the safety of our users is most at-risk. Precise alerts warn of upcoming real-time rain, severe alerts and breaking news.

Floating Shortcuts

We know typical usage of weather apps depends on the individual — some users go straight to radar maps, while others want hourly forecasts first. Our Floating Shortcuts feature gives users an easy, direct way to open the app to the section that most interests them, such as current conditions, hourly or daily forecasts, radar, local video, share or alarm. The shortcut appears as a small raindrop icon pinned to the edge of your screen even when other apps are open. To allow for maximum flexibility, this feature can be turned off if the user prefers not to see the icon at all times, or it can be set to display only when the desktop is visible.

Smart Weather Wakeup Alarm

Ever find that your normal wakeup time doesn’t cut it during storms? Us too. We attempted to alleviate this problem for users by creating The Smart Weather Wakeup Alarm, which gives users the ability to set an alarm and have it activate a little early if rain or snow is in the forecast. Triggered by that forecast, the alarm clock knows when weather will most affect users to give them more time to get where they need to be.

Custom Look and Feel

In order to provide a user experience that is unique to the Made for Samsung version of our app, we also provided a new color scheme with a white background and dark text. We hired a local artist, BlackCatTips, to help with the new design theme, providing custom background images for the app that would visually denote different weather conditions in a unique way. These beautiful weather-triggered images were taken from Samsung devices and change based on current local conditions.

Samsung Gear S2 Watch face

Connectivity has pervaded the market, so today’s consumers aren’t just accessing content on their smartphones — they’re using devices of all different kinds. Knowing that, we built a customized The Weather Channel watch face for the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch, which gives our users the ability to see the next five hours of their weather at a glance. In addition, users can find the current conditions for their location and severe weather alerts, as well as beautiful display colors that change to reflect the time of day. We also let users know when the next sunrise or sunset is coming up so they can make plans to go out and enjoy it.

On top of everything, it was a pleasure to work with Samsung’s product and engineering team. They helped the entire process run very smoothly — from early brainstorming and ideation sessions that helped us come up with features that would both delight our users and highlight the unique capabilities of Samsung’s products to early access to new devices and Samsung’s developer and QA resources.

As a result of creating this uniquely tailored Made for Samsung app, we’ve experienced concrete benefits including:

  • A significantly higher percentage of active users from Samsung’s loyal audience
  • The ability to partner with Samsung’s global QA teams to test upcoming releases
  • Exclusive promotion from the Made for Samsung marketing team within the Galaxy App store and through events like SDC
  • Doubled monthly installs from Samsung’s push notification promotion of our features
  • Exclusive debut of features for a targeted Samsung audience
  • Attention to our app in new markets where we were largely unknown

For developers looking to replicate similar success, we have a few key takeaways: focus on your distribution strategy, particularly how you can maximize your reach without spending exorbitant amounts of money; take advantage of the medium your content appears on — consumers buy the products they do for a reason, and they want to see those unique device features being put to use; and of course, test early and often to make sure your product is hitting the mark. If you can manage that, you’ve got a great shot at breaking through the noise.

Interested in becoming a part of Made for Samsung? Read up on the program here.