March 20, 2014
By Sarah Deener
A design refresh of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aviation Weather Center/Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) website will go live March 25.
The new website design, which pilots can preview here before the launch, is meant to improve content organization, navigation, look and feel, functionality, and usability. The upgrade is part of an effort to bring the Web properties of the National Weather Service to a common standard, and includes changes that should improve functionality across more browsers and devices.
Aviation Weather Center Director Bob Maxson said in a media release that the refresh provides pilots, briefers, and other users a more interactive experience. “The current web site is more than 10 years old and needed an update to ensure all systems and previous upgrades were compatible. Some of our old displays no longer function with modern software and browsers. Users have cited better interactivity with mobile devices as a desired need.”
The new website replaces Java applets, which had compatibility issues with certain browsers and operating systems, with OpenLayers geographic information system (GIS) displays, which works on a broader range of browsers and systems. Among the upgrades is support for mobile devices.
Other improvements include simplified, more straightforward URLs that allow for easier navigation and bookmarking. The site also has more consistent page layouts and reorganizes the menu and navigation structure; the Aviation Weather Center said that upgrades and changes to the website over the years had made page navigation less user friendly.
Pilots can learn more about the changes in an online tutorial, and the legacy Web pages will remain on the site until March 25, 2015, to allow users to transition on their own; bookmarks of those pages should continue to work until then. Users can provide feedback online.
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Managing Editor Sarah Deener is an instrument-rated private pilot and has worked for AOPA since 2009.
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