Armed with a new identity and digital direction, OpenSnow's meteorologists bring ski and powder forecasting to the best resorts and mountains in America.
NO 1 Overview
OpenSnow is a weather forecasting service with a beautiful niche—Joel Gratz and his team predict where the biggest and best powder days will be anywhere in the country. After seven years of growing from a fun side project to a team of eight around the country, OpenSnow needed an update to its identity, website, emails, and printed ephemera along with adding an iPhone and Android app to the lineup. I had known Joel for a couple of years before we worked together, and I was lucky enough to work his team in the Winter of 2013/2014 to create a wholly new look and feel for a company enjoyed around the world.
NO 2 The Process
One of the first conversations with the OpenSnow team revolved around the need to update the identity and all of the branding elements that go along with that. Joel and his team wanted a brand that was both honest and adventurous. The brand needed to have a serious and honest foundation because OpenSnow tells the skiers and snowboarders on the site where they should drive or fly to find the best skiing possible, but it should also have a sense of grand adventure and look great on a backpack or pair of skis. I looked at inspiration from some of the greats in the outdoor industry—Patagonia, The North Face, Burton, and Black Diamond. It was clear that we should go for extremely legible type that could be printed on any surface in the world while letting the logomark speak for the adventurous aspirations of the brand.
Basing some of the colors off the original OpenSnow identity, we grew the logotype and logomark out separately and then worked on the best pairing. When representing a company that deals with snow and mountains, the concept of the logomark came together fairly quickly, but the time was really spent making it feel unique and independent from other companies in the space. Once the logomark was was established, a few revisions on the type ended with an all-caps version of Whitney. The type harkened back to the simple and beautiful treatments from traditional outdoors companies while giving us a great typeface to use on the web and mobile apps.
For the rest of the identity package, I mocked up versions of the logo and branding on all sorts of gear from helmets to jackets and from skis to stickers. As we continued to refine the branding elements around the logo, it was clear that the logo would work for an honest and adventurous brand no matter where we put it.
“The identity guidelines that The Studio of Andy Stone created for OpenSnow will pay dividends for years to come.”
Responsive Site Design
In the Winter of 2012/2013, almost fifty percent of OpenSnow’s traffic came from mobile devices and most of it in the early morning. It was clear that customers checked the site from their phones to see if they should call in sick for a powder day, and that we needed to make the site not only mobile-friendly but mobile-first.
We found out what were the most-visited pages on the current site and restructured the whole experience to focus on the core areas that users were likely to visit at any time. We stripped out a few of the confusing or dead-end portions of the site and came away with a lean and beautiful architecture to build the site from.
One of the most important aspects of the OpenSnow site is extendability. While we wanted to launch a fully-featured site, we also wanted the ability to expand on features and content in the future. Every single part of the OpenSnow site was designed and engineered to be modular and allow for more content and features to be put in with minimal effort.
Along with professional weather forecasts for your favorite mountains, a new feature on the site was the ability to view user-submitted photos to get a real view in to the current weather. This was incredibly fun to see on powder days in Colorado as the pages for Vail and Beaver Creek exploded in content.
Native Mobile Apps
Along with creating a responsive site to cater to any device, OpenSnow wanted to live on customers’ phones to keep them up to date on the latest forecasts all the time. More than just a native experience, the OpenSnow iPhone app allows users to trigger “powder” notifications based on favorite mountains and minimum snow amounts, take photos of their ski day to post it to the community, and get updates for The Daily Snow every morning from Joel and the team of forecasters around the country.
The app was started right around the release of iOS 7 and was the first mobile project I worked on after Apple went “flat” with all of its features. After learning the changes of the new operating system, we focused the design elements on high-quality photos, dead-simple interfaces, and content-first typography. The result was a beautiful and premium app that looked great on both Android and Apple devices from day one. I worked with the extremely talented Sam Vanderhyden for app development and he transformed my designs into a truly dynamic app.
Right now, the iPhone app sits in iTunes with an average review of five stars and in the Google Play store with an average of four-and-a-half stars. The customers truly love the OpenSnow content and really enjoy the new app to deliver the content whenever they want it. If you are interested in the app, download it for your iPhone or Android phone today.
NO 3 The Deliverables
After the first meeting with OpenSnow, it was decided that the design project really should extend to all reaches of the company. I was lucky enough to work with a very excited team that wanted to push the brand forward as the company grew in users, partnerships and revenue. After completing the initial identity package for OpenSnow, I worked on the marketing and application side of the website, created email templates for The Daily Snow, and designed mobile apps for Android and iPhone users.
NO 4 The Impact
OpenSnow continues to grow in current and new markets every year and now has a new brand identity to match the new scale of the company. The company was already respected for their personality and great forecasts now reaches a wider audience than ever before with a website that caters to any device and mobile apps that go with users wherever they are. Towards the end of the 2013/2014 ski season, I ran into multiple groups on ski lifts and gondolas using the iPhone app that I designed to find the best side of the mountain for morning powder.
As OpenSnow continues to grow, their brand will evolve with them. The site and apps designed by my small studio will continue to serve them well as they form new partnerships and reach an expanding audience around the world.
If you enjoyed this project and would like to work together, get in touch.