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Imagine the Possibilities if You Redesigned Your Resort’s Website Half as Often

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In the last 15 years, resort websites have gone from hackish bits of design and code to something you could stick in an art gallery.

But I can’t help but think that this is the trajectory we find ourselves on with design.


Any improvements from here on out will likely be small, incremental and more driven by changes in design trends than actual needs from resorts.

The Challenge
In my mind, this is a massive opportunity for resorts.

The thing is, though, that I love the redesign process but It gets marketing teams to come together and rethink everything they are doing on the web, decide what’s working, what’s not, what could be better, easier, more effective.

But the big downside is that because you’re starting all over with the design, much of the lessons from those data you’re looking at may not apply in the context of a brand new system.

The Analogy
Think about it this way. Let’s say you’re dating a girl named Emily and after a year of ups and downs and joy and pain, she dumps you.

Now, looking back over that year you’ve learned a ton about dating/girls in general, but specifically that girl: Emily. So, when you meet your next flame on the chairlift this year only some of it will apply to her because, well, she’s not Emily.

But what if you could start all over with Emily, perfectly wipe the slate, but still know what you know now? How much more valuable would that knowledge be in that situation?

The Opportunity
That’s the opportunity I see in the leveling of the design-quality curve. With less need to redesign, I wonder what would happen if resorts skipped every other design process and replaced it with an optimization process.

Take all the data you usually do, bring all the marketing masterminds on your team together like you did before, summon the wizards at the agency who you worked with last time, but instead of starting all over with a brand new site, you simply apply all that energy and time and creativity and data to make your current site even better.

Optimization is powerful. Hugely powerful. And when the clay you are molding is the same bit you learned from in the first place, some amazing things can happen.

  • jj

    What do you think about the idea that a bunch (dozens or hundreds) of small ski areas should band together and adopt one common website format developed and paid for by all of them that they just tweak with input on the particulars of their resort? Is this already out there in one form or another? I still see a lot of small resorts with really bad websites. I wonder if Liftopia could or does offer this as part of the online ticket sales service they already do for so many small resorts?

    • It’s a good question and, honestly, something I’ve toyed with myself ( I think there may be room for an online marketing solution designed specifically for those smallest areas, but I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all template and I think it has to be able to be implemented in a way that either immediately or eventually saves them time over their current setup (which is much, much, harder than it sounds).

    • Dave Gibson

      When the website serves such an important role in presenting the resort’s brand as somehow different than the competitor, this approach is tough.

  • buymaxabeercom

    Plus the money and time saved by not having to train staff on a new system. This is from someone that makes a living building and designing ski are websites… Thanks for this Gregg

  • WisSkier

    Website design for lap & desktop is a pretty mature activity now, mobile and responsive is where there is a lot of room for innovation yet.

  • Dave Gibson

    First. Emily is a bitch.

    Secondly, when the website continues to grow in value to the resort as both its number one marketing tool AND its number one sales tool (as ecom improves thanks to Inntopia/Liftopia) then it makes sense to constantly tune them. What I see is that resorts design and build the new site and then it too often isn’t tuned. It just goes until they say “Our website sucks now. We need a new one.” It should evolve.

    I think that given the pace of features, design styles, and devices that people use to view websites – that a “redesign” every 3 years still makes sense. Is that a “revolutionary” step or an “evolutionary” step though? Its often a question of degree and based on what is appropriate. Is your site responsive? If not, then perhaps you need to redesign now – but that could just require adapting a current design to scale and fold to work on all devices.

    There are also parts of a website that may or may not need to change – such as the information architecture, the CMS, features, the interface design.

    The interface of a modern website – what you see on the screen, is controlled by templates with centralized files that can be tweaked or rebuilt at much less cost than in previous paradigms.

    • I see much the same thing: build a new site, do nothing, think it’s not good enough, build a new one. Since writing this I’ve heard about a few resorts fill me in that just recently they’ve started to really take optimization seriously. It’s a very good sign.

      • Dave Gibson

        That’s great to hear.

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