Crystal Ski Holidays is the UK’s biggest ski tour operator.  They offer customers the choice of 130 resorts across Europe, North America and Japan. At the 2015 Travel Awards they won the Best Ski Operator for the second consecutive year running.


The brief was to create an app which Crystal customers could use out in resort. It would be available the following season. We were not clear, at this stage, what type of functionality we wanted to offer our customers. So, we set up a two week ‘discovery’ phase to allow us to explore and research what customers would find useful.

Once the discovery phase had been completed we only had a couple of months to flesh out the ideas, and to build the app with the development team so we adopted a fairly lean process.

I interviewed skiing enthusiast's at ski shows
I interviewed skiing enthusiast’s at ski shows

This is a brief overview of how the project was structured and the types of design processes we adopted to produce the app:

I have also put together a one page document outlining the UX design processes.

Idea generation and brainstorming

We tested initial ideas and concepts with customers in a focus group environment. Customers were selected from our different customer segments. After the focus groups we analysed which concepts went down well and decided which to take forward.

In-house workshops

We set up numerous workshops with different staff from within the company to flesh out the chosen concepts. The output of the workshops were storyboards which showed the types of functionality which would help to solve pain points of the groups chosen personas. Off the back of the workshops all the storyboards were reviewed and we identified the common themes and ideas to take forward.

Competitor analysis

At this point it was important to carry out some competitor analysis to see what they were providing their customers out in resort. We also looked at other applications on the market which provided similar functionality.

Sketching, Prototyping and Testing

Interactive prototypes were built in Axure so that we could test the concepts. The prototypes included all interactions to allow us to see how a user would interact with the screens.


We started off testing the prototypes on internal staff to get some quick feedback on usability issues and any initial concerns. All the internal staff chosen were keen skiers so this provided us with some good insight early on. We also had a couple of rounds of testing on actual customers which helped to validate the concepts.

Creating screen flows with development team

Once we had documented all the functionality within the app the next step was to work alongside the development team and produce visual screen flows. This allowed us to see all the different routes a user could take around the app and helped the development team to start visualising how the app was going to be built.


The build cycle

We worked in 2 week sprint cycles with the development team to deliver the app. Invision was used to allow the developers to see all the different types of interactions within the app and it also allowed us to cut down on the documentation.


The finished product

The app proved to be an instant hit with customers. There are been upwards of 100,000 downloads since it was released.


Tamsin Todd, managing director Crystal Ski Holidays: “Skiing is fundamentally a social activity that people love to do together. With this app, skiers can spend less time searching for each other and more time exploring and sharing the best ski routes, and enjoying all that ski resorts have to offer.”

These are a few of the key innovations within the app:

Find my Friends – This feature allows you to find your friends or family wherever they are on the mountain using GPS. You can easily create a group, connect to your friends and family, and see them marked on a piste map so you can work out where best to meet. You can also message or call them directly from the app.

Recommended ski routes – Find ski routes recommended by our Crystals expert resort teams and rated by skiers. Routes are simply explained with point to point details and graphical maps. You can then rate and share each run.

Ski Tracking – The tracking feature enables you to monitor and track distance covered as well as speed, altitude and duration, all shareable via Facebook.


The Ski Explorer App is available on both IOS and Android devices:

Over 100k downloads across both: