You at Copper
A service design project for POWDR corp
You at Copper
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.
1-week project completed with Sarah Cohen, Diamond Alexander and Makenna Considine.
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.
Online Research, Interviews & Testing, UX Collage, Persona, User Journey, Rapid Sketching & Ideation, Wireframing, Prototyping
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 appeals to them?
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.
User Interview Quotes
"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
Before creating personas, we looked into the different types of skiers and created a spectrum: those who were new to the sport versus those who have had years of training, and those who skied casually versus those who were more competitive. Starting with 3 personas, we placed them on this spectrum and decided to focus on the more casual skiers. We found that casual skiers could be swayed more easily to buy a Copper season pass than a competitive skier, who probably already held a season pass or IKON pass.
A day at Copper
We decided to make Tyler our main persona and pull opportunities out of a mental model 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.
Rapid iteration through user testing and insights
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.
Testing features with potential users
Part of our iteration phase consisted of user testing and gaining insight into whether or not our potential features would be useful. We tested app and kiosk features with 6 users in our constrained time frame, and gathered useful insight on how to move forward with our designs. We also tested concept designs and asked potential users about the overall ecosystem.
User Testing Insights
"I don't usually use my phone on the mountain. It gets so cold that it shuts off, and I don't want to drop it, so I actually like the paper maps they give you."|
— Matt, regular skier.
"At the airport, the last thing I want to do is deal with a kiosk. I just want to get in and out without any hassles." — Becca, regular skier.
— Becca, regular skier.
"During peak season, it's hard to estimate how many employees to staff. We find we're always under, or over-staffed. Under-staffing is hard because it's an all hands on deck situation. Having a way for visitors to book ahead would be really helpful for that issue." — Jamie, Copper employee.
— Jamie, Copper employee.
Using storyboards to iterate the ecosystem design
After user testing, we rewrote Tyler’s Copper Mountain journey and included each potential ecosystem touchpoint. Through this process, we were able to identify which question the ecosystem would answer along the way.
Addressing pain points of the journey 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. Each touchpoint answers a specific question that a user might ask to enhance their journey at Copper.
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.
Using client feedback to move forward
After our final client pitch, we received feedback on our concept and made a series on “next step” decisions we would like to move forward with as we continued to make progress:
1. Encourage visitors to use You at Denver app through carefully constructed content strategy.
One of the initial insights we gathered was that the current Copper Mountain app is not widely used because of how much it mimics the website. A next step we plan to take is to use content strategy to determine what users want most and what would make their pre-planning easier, by creating a system of labels and categories and then testing to better determine how users would navigate the app.
2. Iterate on the customizable paper maps concept.
Part of the positive feedback we received from the client was the utilization of the paper maps. They stated that their current paper map solution is a big waste of paper, and that by encouraging visitors to print their own customized version, it could lead to maps that people actually use.
3. Use of white label software to create traffic notifications and directions.
To build on the directions and notification area of the app, we would utilize a white label software and integrate it into the You at Copper app.
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 👋🏼