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Stop sending people to sleep by turning your data into something useful to them.

Data visualisation is a tool for communicating complex ideas and telling compelling stories. If you are a scientist and want to share the data you spent time collecting and analysing, you still need to connect the dots for your audience so it makes sense to them. In this post, we will look at Magic Seaweed, a very successful example of data visualisation applied to the marine environment. 


Reporting on the marine environment

In Cornwall, we have proportionally more miles of coastline than any other county in the UK; it is almost impossible to drive any distance before seeing the sea. So when moving around, we are constantly aware of our natural environment. Understanding changing conditions is essential for our leisure time and many professions, especially in the marine and offshore renewables industry.

As we try and harness the great potential of the natural marine environment as usable energy, Cornwall is playing a pivotal role and becoming a launchpad for many offshore renewables initiatives to reach the 2030 UK offshore wind target. Understanding our seas and oceans is crucial to designing and engineering energy capture systems.

Therefore, it is unfortunate that reporting on the marine environment is sometimes a bit dry. For example, the BBC recently remixed its shipping forecast into a podcast to promote good sleep

“Magic Seaweed has been a global success story by helping thousands of people access surfing and coastal activities more easily without having to interpret complicated pressure charts.”

How Magic Seaweed did it

Data reporting on the marine environment does not have to be like this. Magic Seaweed, now part of Surfline, has been a global success story by helping thousands of people access surfing and coastal activities more easily without interpreting complicated pressure charts.

Some graphic design fans may point to the logo designed by David Carson, but overall, Magicseaweed’s success can be attributed to a combination of accurate surf forecasting, a large and active user base, a user-friendly interface, and strong brand recognition. These factors have helped make the website a go-to resource for surfers worldwide.

They have pushed data visualisation to another level by giving users more than surf reports and forecasts but also information about their local surf spots and other surf-related content. Visually, they have managed to digest the fastidious aggregation of live data into a perfectly bite-sized information design. That includes the typographical hierarchy, consistency of the colour palette, precise use of icons, integration of maps, and the live webcam feeds from local beaches showing how the data affects conditions in real-time.


⇧ABOVE: Magic Seaweed presents complex ocean and weather data simply with it’s highly usable interface design. The mobile app and website provides long range surf forecasts for thousands of spots around the globe and includes a unique star rating, which takes into account surf and swell height, wind direction, duration of conditions and even air and water temperature and presents all that data in a simple and easy to understand format; making coastal activities more accessible to millions of people worldwide.

Data geeks and sea lovers

At Cobo, we regularly work with leading practitioners from different backgrounds, from journalists and digital specialists to science writers and scientists. Our clients and collaborators look to us to provide visual clarity for their ideas to promote understanding and engage their audience and users. Information can be beautiful, but it is in the creative approach, design execution and disciplined rollout that we can communicate and engage most usefully.

We also love the sea and are proud members of the Cornwall Marine Network, which explains why we talk about the marine sector a lot. If these two things are of interest to you, have a look at the brand we’ve created for Morek

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