Push to The Latest: No

Gregg Blanchard -- December 5, 2014

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.

Remember

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.

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