Nature Tourism Services is an Australian company that specialises in delivering innovative interpretive and visitor orientation design solutions.

We have developed a range of bespoke, innovative digital products using web-apps and interactive PDF smartphone guides directly engineered for the needs of both the user and the operating environment of our clients.

 falls userguide dual season webapp

The Falls Userguide is an innovative digital product that allows visitors to the Falls Creek Alpine Resort in Victoria to access key facility information of immediate relevance to their current location across both summer and winter seasons.

The userguide project was undertaken as a joint venture between Nature Tourism Services and the resort management in 2016.

It recognises that in a modern digital age, people increasingly expect to access relevant content easily, understand it in their own native language and to select / customise the content they access to meet their needs.

As most high use areas of the resort have good internet coverage a digital web-app solution was developed to deliver location specific, multi-lingual content to users irrespective of their choice of mobile operating system (i.e. including Windows / Nokia /Blackberry).

A feature of the userguide is the way in which it comprises two mirrored sections - one for the summer and one for the winter season. This takes advantage of the fact that the signage we designed as part of this integrated product roll out is flipped from summer to winter modes of operation.

As a result it is possible to include appropriate QR code links in the signs that take people directly to the seasonally appropriate pages.

Another feature of this system is the way it allows for content to be presented differently from summer to winter modes of operation. In summer for example only a portion of the food and beverage and accommodation providers are open in the alpine village. Rather than require users to scroll through all these closed off season venues in order to locate those that are open, they are simply not included in the summer version.

The essence here was at all times to focus on the user interface to deliver the best possible user experience, in spite of the significant additional behind the scenes coding and formatting this required.

The use of a strong hierarchical drill structure as is evident on the home pages shown opposite means that the user experience is not compromised by this depth of content.

In order to present up to date information at all times with a minimal of site maintenance, the userguide takes the approach of being a site aggregation portal that puts the user in simple two click access with the providers’ own websites.

In this way whatever initiatives or promotional specials the individual businesses operating at Falls Creek may offer, the userguide will present a simple means of connecting people with these promotions.

Having accessed the relevant business website, visitors can then simply use the back buttons on their web browser to return to the original page in the userguide. Using site aggregation principles as a way of expanding the relevance and currency of the web app is a central principle behind its development.

THE USER INTERFACE (UI)

“Always knowing where you are” ... is one of the biggest challenges in designing an effective UI for mobile phone users.

The advantage of prioritising these users as the key audience for the site design allows this issue to be addressed as a top order priority.

The site does this by extending the site aggregation approach described above to its own internal network of one page websites.

A collection of "one page websites" provide the body content of the web app.

These have the benefit of providing a very “stable” viewing platform where content is brought to the viewer rather than them being repeatedly taken off to a new page when browsing on mobile devices.

In effect little “windows” in the page are created to deliver this deeper content without the user having to be taken off to a new viewing ecosystem.

Where links are provided to new pages, these are delivered on a very heirachical “out and back” structure. This is designed to continually return the user to their point of departure and so constantly orient them in their browsing experience.

Speed ... is delivered by the use of static webpages rather dynamic pages (as typically delivered by Content Management System sites).

It also uses “load on demand” structuring where the user is only served additional content when they ask for it thus hastening page load times.

The web-app is designed around a “phone first” UI as it is designed specifically for use whilst engaged in activities in and around the resort.

This “phone first” design is then presented automatically in a constrained format to allow for easy viewing on tablets. No provision is made for the desktop environment, though the web-app can still be viewed via this medium.

EMBED CONTENT VIA PDF

Given the variability of mobile coverage beyond the Falls Creek Alpine Resort, visitors referencing the user guide are continually encouraged to embed map content onto their mobile devices before setting off onto the high plains or down the mountain.

To do this an interactive PDF file presenting the maps has been produced.

Once downloaded, this is then hosted in a PDF reader app previously installed on the users’ own device. Apple /IOS devices now include iBooks as standard on their operating system. Other users will need to download a PDF reader app should they not already have one.

Visit the Falls Userguide webapp by snapping the QR code here from your phone or else simply google "Falls Userguide".