Case Study: Snowbird iPhone App


There is an app for that.

Today, let’s take the conversation mobile and look at the Snowbird iPhone App.  Again, a special request from one of our readers who happens to work with the development shop (Welikesmall) behind the application.

Yes, we know everyone is currently building or thinking about building an iPhone app.  However we were drawn to this example because of what was not included in the app, rather than what was.

How about some background from the PR pitch:

We did some serious thinking about how real skiers would use an iPhone app to tap into what is going on at the mountain, says Thomas Cooke, Executive Producer at Welikesmall. Since we are all real skiers and riders at Welikesmall and familiar with the Snowbird brand, this was a dream project for us, to make an app we’d all want to use every day during the ski season.

At this point, we already had a good feeling about what we would see in the app.  Notice what was said…how real skiers would use an iPhone app…we’d all want to use every day…and that phrases such as ‘we built this for ad revenue,’ ‘we built this for branding’ or ‘we built this to be cool’ were left out.

If you want to build a successful app, or for that matter any product, you need to start your thinking with the consumer, not the bottom line.  Welikesmall did that and it shows in the app.

On top of that, the app is free.  Again, thinking about the consumer.

Overall, the app is quite aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigation and simple in it’s labeling structure.  The basic navigation gives you easy access to the sections and content you are looking for…Snow, Go, Show and Extras.

So, what is in the app?  Useful information that is needed while on the mountain or in the village.  Snow fall totals, weather forecast, trail status, twitter feeds from the mountain staff, webcams and a very nice photo uploader.  And that is just a start, there are a few more highlights here and there, but you get the idea, we don’t need to review the design of every component.

Although, we do love the ‘days skied’ function, but I don’t think we will make it to 71.

More importantly, let’s discuss what is not in the app.  Gimmicks and games are left out…no need for some snowboarding ‘avoid the rocks’ game in the app, you are already on a mountain.  Unnecessary content such as endless marketing copy about how great the snow is.  Upfront and obvious advertising that is intrusive to the user experience.  In short, everything that makes so many apps so unsuccessful.

In the end, the Snowbird app is a great branding and marketing extension for the resort, because it delivers a great user experience without trying to deliver a hard marketing message.  They have focused on the core needs of the consumer and built an app around those needs, instead of forcing content where it does not fit.

Truly a great iPhone app template for the rest of our ski resort counterparts.

5 out of 5 birds from the Travel 2.0 team.

(moto, did we miss anything?  Feel free to give us the behind-the-scenes on the development in the comments.)

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.