Creating a new website for Great Canadian Heli-Skiing (GCH) was a dream assignment. We envisioned infinite landscapes filled with skiers gorging on deep snow, dramatic helicopter take-offs framed by piercing blue skies, and lodge scenes combining the best from Animal House and our favourite 5-star restaurants. Of course it wasn’t that simple in reality. We needed to dig deeper and bring some real insight to the work. Fortunately that kind of challenge is what really motivates us. Well, that, and the promise of shredding some deep pillow lines in the trees this winter. I doubt we will ever conjure up a client with a better opportunity for a ‘site inspection’.
GCH owner Greg Porter has seen the light when it comes to measuring success based on conversions. Our primary mandate was to create a site that drove potential clients to make contact with GCH so they could learn more about how a trip could be customized to suit their needs, and ultimately to book their business. Our main target: what Greg likes to refer to as ‘the busy CEO’. Our mission: establish Great Canadian’s USPs, present the need-to-know information succinctly, but make sure the details are easy to find for those doing deeper research. Naturally we also needed to inspire them; this is heli-skiing after all.

People Tend to Listen to Your Vacation Stories When they Involve a Helicopter.
Big imagery and insightful headlines that elicited smiles were the foundation for the landing page, which rotates through 4 executions. Navigation is presented along the top and is just a roll-over away, so it is always there when you need it, but doesn’t get in the way of your day-dreaming, so go ahead and leave the GCH page open behind the spreadsheets if you need a little mid-day refresher.
We knew we could get a busy CEO’s attention for 9.5 seconds with the first landing page they would see, but if they engaged further, it needed to be really easy to get around. The thing about organizing a heli-ski trip is, it’s really complicated. If you’re booking a beach vacation, you pick your dates, book a flight, pack your flip-flops and board shorts, get to the ocean, and fill a bucket with ice and beer. Heli-skiing requires more planning: access to the lodge can be complex, you need to pack meticulously for mountain weather, pick the right time of year, consider terrain, weather, and snow conditions…that info had to be easy to access but not cumbersome to find. The nav bar we chose makes it easy to find what you need, from anywhere, without presenting an overwhelming array of options. Five simple categories with intuitive drop-downs, viewable on the right once you’re inside. We cut the page count from the previous iteration of the site down by at least 30%, without sacrificing any information. Simple is often usually hard to execute, but we think we pulled it off.

GCH is known for being flexible (they are unique in offering trips of any length, starting at only 2 days) and innovative, having pioneered heli-skiing in groups of four, so we wanted to create a look and feel for the site that represented those attributes. For this we had a little surprise up our sleeves. It wasn’t in the brief, but there wasn’t a better way to blend innovation and flexibility than by applying responsive design to the site. The clean look of the full size site worked brilliantly when we scaled it down to tablet and mobile versions – all without exceeding the budget.  Then we took flexibility a step further. We already had a Request a Brochure widget on the right side nav area, but we also added widgets that can be changed as GCH’s messaging needs change. Whether it’s a note about safety in the backcountry or a refer-a-friend promotion, there are a few tools on the site that can be easily modified within the WordPress plugins that we put to use for the client.
The new is a success. It came in on a modest budget and accomplished the goals that were set out in the brief, with a little extra thrown in. It will create a solid foundation for GCH’s desire to achieve new goals for booking repeat business and attracting new clients. And it’s mighty good-looking, too.