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How Long Does it Take to Find a Ski Resort’s Hours of Operation on their Website?

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This questions is one I’ve wanted to answer for a while. It started with a single tweet that came across my radar wondering why it was so hard to find a resort’s lift hours on their website.

Once I saw the complaint, it suddenly started popping up everywhere. Not, daily or even weekly, mind you, but regular enough that I started to wonder how hard it could really be.

With such a common question (and one I’ve often had while traveling), I looked for an answer.

The Challenge & Rules
So, I generated a list of 25 semi-random (see below) United States (to avoid french) ski resort website URLs, pulled out the stopwatch app on my phone, and decided I’d time myself finding each resort’s lift hours.

With each, I gave myself a few rules:

  • Only one resort from any single shared ownership that uses similar navigation structures (Vail, Intrawest, etc.)
  • I have to find it on the website, no social profiles.
  • Count total pages viewed from my actual experience, not the actual shortest distance between two points.
  • Clock starts when I click their URL, not after the page loads.
  • I’d first try to find the hours on the home page before clicking to another.

After a half an hour I had my data.

Good & Bad
Here’s how it looks.

  • Average pages viewed (including home page): 2.5
  • Average time to find hours (in seconds): 21
  • Resorts with hours on home page (or every page): 1
  • Longest series / time: 287 seconds / 16 pages
  • Shortest series / time: 5 seconds / 1 pages

Let me also note that I did NOT include two resorts whose hours I never actually found. On both I went through over 20 pages looking for the hours and came up empty.

Those pages included zooming in on trail maps, internal site searches, and any other straws I grasped at after spending 5+ minutes of their sites.

Now, keep in mind that I’ve looked a hundreds of resort websites thousands of times, so I’m not exactly a perfect subject to study. And after finding hours on a dozen or so sites, I realized I was getting slightly better at knowing where to look, so treat those numbers as low estimates.

But as I started going through the site I realized the same question could be asked of a number of things:

  • Today’s snow report
  • Web cams
  • Directions to the resort
  • Parking options

The list goes on. I don’t have time to find averages for each, but the only number that really matters is yours and your site analytics likely have the answer. With seasons starting up left and right this week, might be worth a look.

On Monday I talked about the future of resort website design being optimization. This is one of those examples that doesn’t take a full overhaul to fix and improve.

  • AK

    Corey walks in… “Gregg what’s shaking?”

    “I’m trying to find the hours of operation on 25 different web sites and I’m timing myself. Now get out of here you’re messing up my data.”

    “Oh. My bad..”

    • You forgot my pseudo-cuss.

      Corrected: “Shoot dang, Corey, you’re messing up my friggin’ data.”

  • Matt Sawyer

    Gregg – Great point. Made me check to see that Ski Butternut where I work did indeed have our lift hours posted on the home page above the fold! Matt

    • Glad to hear it, Matt! I was really surprised by how rare that was.

  • Eric Wagnon

    Was I one of those tweets? I know I’ve complained about it before on SM. It’s my pet peeve of ski resort web design. That and resort sites that don’t have a basic large jpeg trail map. Most of the time, I don’t want an “interactive” map. :)

    • Absolutely, Eric. In fact, I tried to track down one of your tweets so I could embed it couldn’t seem to find one.

  • WisSkier

    As I tweeted in response this is a lesson many website designers or those guiding the design need to learn. I’m running short on time and I’m out and about, I’m on my device, bandwidth is dodgy, I have only time to visit one place, and I need to know if you are open or not. The first place I can find hours for wins the contest.

    Put your hours, address, and phone on top so I can see it easily on my device or on my laptop.

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