It started with a phone call.

I was working as a UX designer for The Nielsen Company in 2015 when a past colleague of mine, Larry, called me up and told me about the project he was working on for AcuRite. He said, "We're building a new weather app and we have a clean slate to start with. We have existing users, a talented development team in place, but we need the user experience and design to bring it all together. Are you interested?" ... My reply was quick, "I'm in." I knew if Larry was involved, that it would be a good project. And, it was. A few weeks later, I was diving headfirst into the world of weather, and it was great.

  • The Company: - Chaney Instruments, Inc. in Lake Geneva, WI.
  • Project Start: September 2015
  • My role: UX Manager


Who is AcuRite?

The name wasn't familiar to me at first, but there's a good chance you have some of their products in your kitchen or around your home and garden. They make alarm clocks, weather stations, kitchen thermometers, oven thermometers, patio thermometers, and many more items that you can get at Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, and online. They're everywhere. Probably in your kitchen or backyard now.

Finding Solutions

Identifying the Problems

The older My Backyard Weather website and apps, also called Acu-Link, were becoming outdated and costly to maintain. The platform was nearly 7 years old, and users were requesting new features.

Early Mockups

I recommend starting the design process with low fidelity sketches. This helps iterate through many design options quickly

  • This screen was an early attempt to satisfy all of the user stories for "Manage Devices"
  • After user testing and feedback of this page, there were many changes that came about. 
  • One of the big changes that came about was changing from an "accordian" navigation between sections, to a tabbed layout. 
  • See the image below for a final version.


Personas were developed from existing marketing efforts, web analytics, executive interviews, and team initiatives. Based on the interviews/workshops we set up 2 personas, Frank and Lisa. We referred to them throughout the entire product development process.

  • Frank was an existing persona that was familiar around the business. Completing this persona card about Frank and sharing it with the teams helped make him more understandable to all.
  • The Lisa persona came about from interviewing the executive and marketing team about a new target market they wanted to target.
  • The persona cards give a summary of the bio, personality, goals/frustrations, lifestyle brands, interests, and more.
  • Sharing these personas around the company and teams made a huge impact on selling the vision of who we were reaching out to in our design and marketing efforts.


1-on-1 Interviews with Our Users

At the discovery phase of my project, I conducted 1-on-1 interviews with some of our active users in order to get a better understanding of the problem. Most of these users were from hardcore weather guy (we called his persona 'Frank') to new and un-seasoned[pun alert] users.


  • These interviews were conducted very early in the requirements gathering stage and were very insightful and helped us adjust our vision for the road ahead.
  • Some of the biggest changes to our development included interactive charts, weather trends, and priority of current conditions, including rainfall.

Surveys & User-Testing

We built a Customer Advisory Board of 100 of varying skill and product knowledge to help us design our new product.


  • We used InVision App to collect feedback on mockups, interactions, A/B tests, etc.
  • We would consistently get 70% or higher participation rates on our user-test requests and surveys.
  • Feedback from participants led to many product improvements or layout changes. Charting styles, data placements, removal of unnecessary info, and more.


The Solution: MyAcuRite

"Hands down, MyAcuRite’s app is the best of any of the stations I’ve tested. It gave me everything I needed and more. It sets the bar for what a weather station app should be."

- TechHive

Final Product Video

About Vince

Vince is a designer, developer, and usability expert . He has over fifteen years of experience building and improving online applications and websites for companies of all sizes, including Florida Blue Cross Blue Shield, AcuRite, The New York Times Company, The Nielsen Company, Lucent Technologies, and more.

Vince is extremely creative, with a keen ability to understand business priorities and how digital marketing tools can be implemented to drive success. He has a proven ability to transform client concepts into measurable campaigns and applications by formulating a clear, concise message.

Vince has lead various development and design teams to launch a variety of high profile marketing projects, including the sponsorship with ESPN’s Summer X-Games. Other clients include Academic Financial Solutions, where his website and applications helped grow the company’s online revenue by over 500% in 3 years. There is a long list of Companies that he has worked with including Lucent Technologies, AOL, White Rain, eAngler, Berkley, the state of Florida, The New York Times Company, The Nielsen Company and more.

Vince is also a founding member of; a world community for web developers; promotes the mutual free exchange of ideas, skills and experiences, and a former board member for the New Tampa Community Council; a non-profit group that raises funds to support local civic groups.


Vince Heilman

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