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Ski Resort Websites: 7 Before & Afters from 2011’s New Designs

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With lots of resorts updating their websites, I thought I’d share a few before and afters to see what was done to improve their online real estate. Some were amazing, others not as much, and more are launching here in the next few weeks (part “2” of this post will come soon) but here they are for your viewing pleasure.

Note: GNPWIR is not a rating for overall design, just improvement over the previous design.

Borealhttp://rideboreal.com
Design: BottleRocket
Gregg’s Near-Perfect Website Improvement Rating (GNPWIR): 8.2
The old Boreal site felt dark are hard to read. The new site is clean, simple and looks rather sharp. They didn’t go overboard with design elements and ended up with a great new look for Boreal.


Whitefishhttp://skiwhitefish.com/
Design: ?
Gregg’s Near-Perfect Website Improvement Rating (GNPWIR): 4.6
The new design has a new layout that fits the typical ski resort website template, but overall, the design didn’t really improve much. They’ve used the wood background in a lot of their ads which might be why it survived the redesign, but I think that element may have been forced a bit.


Sun Valleyhttp://www.sunvalley.com/
Design: In House
Gregg’s Near-Perfect Website Improvement Rating (GNPWIR): 2.5
Once again, I don’t see a huge improvement in the design and layout of the new Sun Valley site. Mostly just a facelift as many of original elements were preserved, but the dark colors and background don’t quite fit a resort whose name includes the word “Sun”.


Sugarloafhttp://www.sugarloaf.com
Design: Joe Myers
Gregg’s Near-Perfect Website Improvement Rating (GNPWIR): 9.1
I think Joe did a great job in transforming this narrow, outdated site into an innovative, clean design. One thing that I was surprised was missing is a vacation booking form. That’s not really a design element, but was an interesting item to leave out. Great use of large images while keeping navigation and functionality high.


Liberty Mountainhttp://www.libertymountainresort.com/
Design: RTP
Gregg’s Near-Perfect Website Improvement Rating (GNPWIR): 8.6
The new site looks great but it did take me a couple visits to realize that “Find Your Liberty” was actually an expandable element and not a headline. I like the use of colors, simple text, and layout. Really sharp design.


Copper Mountainhttp://coppercolorado.com/
Design: ?
Gregg’s Near-Perfect Website Improvement Rating (GNPWIR): 5.0
Nothing too terribly new, just adjusting the layout to match the above mentioned industry template of an image that is the full width of the content and a few tweaks to the rest of the layout. They did well to keep their retro theme while refreshing the look.


Brightonhttp://www.brightonresort.com
Design: Joe Myers’ Evil Twin
Gregg’s Near-Perfect Website Improvement Rating (GNPWIR): 0.0
The site, in my opinion, isn’t much of an improvement over their old site, if it is at all. The thing that rubs we the wrong way it that the design is almost perfect copy of Squaw Valley’s website. Jared and the Brighton marketing team may want to have a little chat with their designer. Take a look:

Brighton’s

Squaw’s

Overlaid

At least the designer was nice enough to switch which side the sidebar was placed on.

UPDATE: Joe was able to speak with both Brighton and Infobytes (the designers, if you can call them that) and posted details and specifics on his blog:
http://www.joe-art.com/blog/2011/10/hackjob-my-work-gets-plagiarized/



  • Greg,

    Thanks for the review. I am really happy with the new website and have been getting tons of compliments from guests on the new look. I will pass along the props to Bottlerocket.

    Curious – do you have a system for generating the score, or is the GNPWIR generated from Greg's Near-Perfect Internal Mind Web Analysis Calculator (GNPIMAC)? : )

    • GreggBlanchard

      Jon, close, but replace "Near-Perfect" with "Mostly-Clueless" ;)

  • Gregg, (i always forget that extra "G")

    seriously though – do you create a score card? would love to get some insight on what could be done to improve in the future.

    • GreggBlanchard

      I should create a scorecard, but for design improvements like this, I usually just spend a couple minutes looking over things and go with an instinct. Not very accurate, but the time I can spend getting each post ready is limited. That scorecard idea, though, the wheels are turning now…hmmm…

  • Wow Brighton, really?

    • GreggBlanchard

      Yeah, crazy, huh? I was telling Joe, who tries something like that in an industry this small?

  • Also, Joe should be given extra points for dealing with Sugarloaf's ancient CMS. Thankfully, it sounds like this will be the last year he has to deal with it since Boyne is looking to replace it.

    • Give Derek W. all the credit on the Sugarloaf CMS. He handled it like a champ. As did Maria at SR a couple years ago.

  • Thanks for the review! Glad you like it and it's also good hear some of the small issues (not realizing the "Find Your Liberty" is expandable). We love to hear all the feedback and if that is something we continue to hear we can look to improve on it!

    Keep up the awesome post!

  • I spoke to Brighton. They were unaware of the similarities and I believe them. They're completely embarrassed and disappointed. They hadn't seen the Squaw site since they mentioned it in a list of other sites they liked to their digital agency, Infobytes (http://www.infobytes.com). It seems that Infobytes decided to download my graphics, css, and even the custom php script used to randomize hero images. I'm writing a blog post about the specific similarities.

    From their website: "Through-out the years, we've won't numerous awards for our design and cost saving development." I think they meant to say "we've WON…" Wonder where they copied that from.

    Anyway, Brighton has instructed Infobytes to scrap it and/or put the old site back up for now. But the extent to which it gets re-engineered completely will be between Brighton and Squaw.

    • GreggBlanchard

      Joe, thanks for the update. That sounds like a pretty plausible scenario from their end. Tough bind to be put in, hope they can work something out so they didn't just flush a couple months and lots of budget down the toilet. That's ridiculous from Infobyes, though. Completely unacceptable even if they did somehow get away with it.

  • Pingback: 5 More, ‘Original’ Ski Resort Website Designs Launched : Ski Resort Marketing - SlopeFillers.com()

  • Just a comment on our Whitefish site. We did it in-house with our one designer and one web guy. We kept the wood grain for now, like you said, because all of our marketing materials currently use it. Although we got a comment from a guest about our use of 'yellow groomed snow'… huh.
    The biggest improvement was for usability -and the main improvement is one you don't see right away, and that's the upgrade of our online booking software. You can actually book from the home page now (your screen shot didn't capture it, but its in the blue bar below the hero shot).

    Thanks for the review!

    • GreggBlanchard

      Thanks for the heads up, Jess. Very good to know about usability and booking. Definitely something I can't see from my perspective so I appreciate the "insider" info ;)

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