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Interactive Annual 16:
information design

The North Face Snow Report iPhone App

Launch Movie

“A perfect example of a sticky, branded iPhone app—useful content wrapped in an intuitive, beautifully designed UI.” —Rachel Pasqua

“The simplicity and immediacy of the app is great and the Twitter feed is a nice addition to the functionality.” —Ingrid Bernstein

Overview: Part of a ski and snowboard campaign for The North Face in which all print ads contained a callout to the iTunes store so people would download the app. It’s everything skiers and snowboarders need before and during a trip to the mountains: avalanche advisories; snow conditions (including 24-, 48- and 72-hour snowfall totals); a 5-day forecast; and trail maps. A quick pane navigation allows users to horizontally shift between resorts and vertically slide for more resort details. While push notification alerts users when a “favorite” resort gets snow, key to the audience is Twitter integration that connects to a focused, real-time stream of updates for every resort—from the general public and official resort feeds.

  • • A back-end system collects and stores weather, snow and resort specific data and caches it so any request from a mobile device is handled without waiting for data retrieval from three different services.
  • • The resort-specific Twitter feature allows users to post tweets directly from the app.
  • • Since launch, the app’s been downloaded 270,000 times.

Comments by Hoshi Ludwig

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “This was the first iPhone project I had worked on, so the most challenging aspect was designing and developing a simple and intuitive user interface. There are a lot of apps out there that do great things, but because of design they are hindered. Lots of time and research went into how a user would experience this one.”

How did this project compare with others you’ve worked on in the past? “Being a mobile app, there was a huge challenge with the space constraints. We are cramming so much info into one little screen that things could have very easily become cumbersome and tough to digest. The horizontal and vertical scrolling of the My Resorts section of the app really contains the most data in a small area. We’re very proud of how that section turned out.”

Did you learn anything new during the process? “Ideas and insight come from everyone and anyone at any given time. It was a huge collaborative effort between engineers, account, creative and client. In the app world it’s best to do one thing, and do it well.”

What would you do differently if you could start the project over? “It would be to work with engineers early on to push what’s possible. They help to define what is and isn’t possible from a creative standpoint—and they have great ideas. We’re really lucky to have an extremely talented group of engineers in-house, not too many agencies have that.”


Hoshi Ludwig, art director
Tom Goodrich, associate creative director
Tim Richardson, creative director
Kris Collins/Grant Davis/Jeremy Jackson/Matthew Kitt/Gabe Varela, interactive developers
Cooper Smith, digital video producer
Factory Design Labs (Denver, CO), project design and development
The North Face, client

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