You at Copper
A Service Design Project for POWDR Corp
During a week-long sprint with POWDR, my team and I worked with a brief to entice 4 Pack and IKON Pass holders to commit to season passes at Copper Mountain, as well as get “never-evers” to have a positive first time experience. The solution we arrived at was a digital ecosystem that enhanced the experience at Copper Mountain by focusing on pre-arrival planning though a companion app, and wayfinding/on-mountain help with a series of kiosks.
My responsibilities included UX design, UX research, and visual design. I collaborated with my teammates on the research phase, and was individually responsible for the UX and UI design for the app portion of the project.
Pen + Paper, Sketch, Illustrator, After Effects, InVision
Less hassle. More skiing.
Despite its reputation for not being a “beginner’s mountain,” Copper Mountain has a variety of routes and activities that allow a full spectrum of visitors to engage in athletics, breath-taking views, and the much beloved après ski throughout the mountain. However, the overall experience at Copper could use an upgrade. The reengagement of visitors is at an all-time low due to hassles on, and off the mountain. Cost, confusion, and crowds make visitors hesitant to return for another adventure.
Working with POWDR to form a solution that was both beneficial to the client and to the users required thinking through our overall goal, which was intent to return. We decided to focus on reducing friction points and increasing delight during the overall user journey at Copper as a way to entice visitors back.
How might we empower skiers to better navigate Copper Mountain, and have a personalized experience that works best for them?
A digital ecosystem that manifests across viewports and thoughtfully placed touchpoints
Embracing the ethos of Copper
Part of the challenge was coming up with a solution that could seamlessly fit into Copper without disrupting the “ethos” that regulars love so much. Based on our research with regular visitors, Copper is not known as a mountain that is geared towards beginners. We wanted to make sure our solution embraced this ethos, and that we could update Copper without trying to “Disneyfy” an experience that so many people love. Our goal was to make new visitors feel like they could become part of this elusive club, rather than make regulars feel like their ski culture was being co-opted.
Insights & pain points
During our research sessions, we conducted user interviews with skiers of different levels and commitment. We spoke with individuals who have made skiing into a lifelong sport for them and their families, and individuals who only ski a couple of times a year. Along with this, we dove deep into secondary research on successful brands that have managed to cut down wait times, and are notorious for having user-centric businesses, such as Disney and Mall of America. Using this information, we were able to pull out pain points and key insights that directly informed our next steps.
"I had trouble finding the right type of slopes for me— the kind I like to ride. Nobody I was with knew the mountain. After a few times of visiting I did research online to find the right runs. They were still pretty hard to find because I'm directionally challenged."|
— Regular Skier
"I rented gear from a place off the resort and that was a lifesaver. The lines for gear rental were outrageous, even super early in the morning." — Occasional Skier
— Occasional Skier
Understanding the spectrum of skiers
Our team focused on 3 separate groups of users: out-of-town visitors and local visitors, both with and without kids. Since 40% of Copper frequenters are local, we decided to focus on visitors from Colorado. We designed around 2 personas: Tyler, a family man who wants skiing to be a part of his kids’ lives, and Drew, a single guy who skis recreationally with his friends every weekend.
A day at Copper
We decided to make Tyler our main persona and pull opportunities out of a user journey of his first family trip to Copper. Tyler’s goal is to get his young kids involved in skiing, so they can enjoy the sport as a family for years to come.
Sketching against opportunities
From here we did rapid sketching sessions for the opportunities we pulled from our user journey. The opportunities we felt were the most valuable to sketch against were: parking, pre- and post- visit reminders, pre-trip travel, and wayfinding. The questions these areas addressed were then divided into the app portion, the kiosk portion, or a combination of the two.
Addressing the pain points to create delight
Answering the questions along the way
Through the creation of a mental model and user journey for our main persona, we identified the four areas of the Copper experience we wanted to address in our ecosystem: planning, travel, on-mountain experience, and post-visit, and developed touchpoints for each. Within the ecosystem exists a companion app, a series of kiosks, printable maps, and marketing emails. We then did a sketching session on each touchpoint in the ecosystem and called out which questions they answered for our personas.
When should we leave the house?
The companion app is meant to make the overall Copper experience go smoother. A pivotal part of the companion app’s design is a glanceable dashboard. Visitors can find all of their need-to-know information here, such as the Copper snow report, estimated time of arrival, mountain webcams, and scheduled events for the day. The use of the dashboard is meant to put visitors minds at ease before, and during, their trip to Copper.
Where should we park?
One of the major pain points we found during our research was the parking situation at Copper. Lack of signage for pricing and availability causes visitors to become agitated before they even start their day. A parking assistant within the You at Copper app will help users determine which parking lot works best for them based on price and spots available. A future implementation we discussed was recommending lots based on the pre-planning information we have received from each user, such as scheduled ski lessons and determining which lot is most conveniently located.
What village do we go to?
Because Copper is broken into three “villages”, a series of kiosks were developed to improve various points of friction around different parts of the mountain. With wayfinding being the main goal, we used gathered pain points to determine other solutions we could implement through these kiosks, such as:
Cutting down wait time for gear rental by scanning size information saved on app.
Evaluating ability level to help provide ideal ride recommendations.
Faster wayfinding amongst visitors with digital maps and filters.
Syncing saved information from the app with kiosks
What slopes should we ski?
After interviewing multiple people who skied regularly in Colorado, my team came to the conclusion that we couldn’t rely solely on a digital solution. Temperatures on the mountain regularly plummet to around 0 degrees, and cell phones can shut off due to the extreme temperatures. Cell phone usage is also hindered due to spotty service. Copper Resort resides on government-owned land, making them unable to install a cell phone tower. Kiosks will print personalized maps with recommended slopes for each user that can be set up ahead of time no the app, or on-site. The printable takeaway will allow skiers to keep their phones in their pockets and navigate the slopes easier than before.
When should we head home?
You at Copper provides valuable notifications to those who enable them. Using traffic pattern predictions, it can deploy alerts to users while at Copper Mountain letting them know when to head out to beat the rush home. This feature allows visitors to end their day on a high note, and make it home stress-free.
When should we go back?
After speaking with the clients and employees at Copper Mountain, we realized that under- and over-staffing can become major issues during certain times of the year. A portion of the app design is dedicated to helping visitors decide when to plan their next trip to Copper. A color coded calendar alerts users to less crowded days based on predictions and historic visitor rates. After choosing their day passes via the app, users can then book ski lessons and buy activity passes on their chosen days. With the encouragement for visitors to book passes ahead of time, Copper can more accurately staff their days.
Learning on the job
Getting thrown into the world of skiing for a week-long project with POWDR was intimidating to say the least. During this project, I realized how little prior knowledge of a subject area matters if you know how to do thorough research and ask the right questions. This project was incredibly valuable for me in learning which questions to ask to obtain the most valuable information that will move a design forward.
In terms of working on a real life problem, I was able to use this experience to practice working on a design solution that works for both users and businesses. The solution we came up with for Copper Mountain was beneficial for both ends, giving us overwhelmingly positive feedback from the client.
go home 👋🏼