On March 30, 2016, YVR launched its new, mobile-optimized website—our most ambitious online project to date—which sought to align our organization’s business goals with our customers’ needs and expectations.

The launch of the website marked the end of a two-year project that involved collaboration among a diverse group of stakeholders, extensive research and an innovative approach to YVR’s online strategy. It also marked an important evolution in YVR’s innovative use of technology, aligning all of our digital tools—including the YVR app and website—with YVR’s Digital Gateway, a cloud-based solution that acts as the central information hub for YVR’s various services, facilities and data.

The main goal of the website project was to create a new online tool that provides users with easy access to desired information. To achieve this goal, we worked closely with all departments across YVR and an external firm, Habanero Consulting, to identify and implement an extensive list of features. This included: mobile-optimization; responsive design; an updated brand experience reflecting our award-wining terminal art and architecture; a refined information architecture; interactive terminal mapping; innovative marketing and communications features; enhanced flight search capabilities; accessibility features and more.

We worked closely with external consultants and vendors to ensure that the website was available to as many of our stakeholders as possible, aligning with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and providing the website fully in English, French and Simplified Chinese. We also anticipated future trends, planning for personalization capabilities and other features for future website releases later in 2016 and beyond.

We linked to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) on the backend, in a way similar to how many social channels are housed, which ensured that traffic spikes would not crash the site. This meant we were able to do away with a dark site and all its complications.

Entry Statement

1. Project Goals: 

• Deliver a YVR brand experience that embraces YVR’s award-winning sense of place (art and architecture) and provides easy access to desired information and interactions universally

• Better connect YVR with its stakeholders through an accessibility compliant website available fully translated in English, French and Simplified Chinese

• Connect YVR’s online tools through a single source of truth—the new YVR Digital Gateway—to provide a seamless experience for our customers

• Create a backend system that could handle significant spikes in traffic without crashing should a crisis occur

2. Production: 

Production of the new YVR website started in 2014 when YVR formed a cross-departmental working group that worked with an external vendor, Habanero Consulting, to identify gaps and opportunities. The findings from this working group identified the need for a unified online experience through YVR’s digital tools—one that quickly and efficiently connected customers in the terminal with their needs online. It also pointed to the need for an effective online platform that could evolve with customer demands. It was also noted that the experience online did not match the level of service and care provided within the terminal.

This resulted in YVR working with a separate external gaming company, Koolhaus, to create YVR’s new cloud-based information database, the Digital Gateway. Originally designed for YVR’s first release of its app, the website working group sought to make the Digital Gateway the core of the new website.

Together with Habanero, YVR’s working group worked with a larger cross-departmental team to gather a more extensive list of requirements and ensure their needs would be met in the new website. Concurrently, Habanero worked with our Communications and IT departments to establish a Content Delivery Network (CDN). The CDN is a caching mechanism that ensures the new YVR website and Digital Gateway will continue to operate under any operational circumstance—from regular operations to a severe crisis. This enables YVR to deliver on its commitment of being a reliable and secure transportation hub.

Through workshops and meetings, we prioritized an extensive list of requirements for the website’s Phase 1 release, which focused on improved access and usability. We then created new content in three languages for every page on the website, coordinated visuals and design and launched the website on March 30. The website divided information into three clear categories focused on passenger information, doing business with YVR and corporate information about YVR. As we neared the project launch, we also began planning for future enhancements to the website, drawing on the list of features that did not make the first release.

The new website came with a myriad of analytics and the ability to dissect information to granular levels. We’ve used this information to greatly shape who we market to and share information with our customers.

To support the launch of the new website, YVR promoted the tool on its editorial channels and social media as well as through proactive media relations. We also employed a backup strategy in the unlikely case of complications during launch, involving our IT team and website partners. After launch, we continued to monitor the website, detailing ideas for future enhancements based on customer feedback.

3. Evaluation: 

Since launch, the website has received a significant increase in visitors over the same period in 2015 and visitors have spent an average of 30 seconds more on the site, totaling three minutes. Over half of all website traffic is now through mobile devices, which supports the mobile optimized focus set out in our requirements. In addition, the majority of page views have focused on segments of the website that we anticipated would be top priority for passengers based on their intuitive needs. This includes Flights, Parking, Transportation, Navigate YVR and Shop Dine and Services (See Appendix for examples).

The website has received positive reviews from the public, who have provided feedback primarily through the website’s Contact Us form. Specific mentions include the following (See Appendix for examples):

Arriving and Departing Flights: YVR has received a large number of positive comments on the Arriving and Departing Flights pages, which make up the largest volume of site visits. Passengers find the real-time flight search filter easy to use and find the scaling from desktop to mobile platforms is effective and clear.

Flight Notifications: Passengers have provided very positive feedback on YVR’s new flight notification tool, which provides real-time updates on the status of arriving and departing flights via mobile text messages and email. Since launch, YVR has sent an average of over 90,000 flight notifications per month, well over our anticipated 10,000 monthly notifications.

Shop, Dine and Services: Our Shop, Dine and Services section has received an average of over 600 visitors per day since launch, with users spending almost two minutes learning about YVR’s services. Users have found the facility information helpful, with particular mention given to the ability of each tenant to list special deals on their respective pages.

Navigate YVR: An average of over 200 users per day have visited our Navigate YVR section since launch. We have received positive feedback regarding our new terminal maps and passenger guides, which provide passengers with a step-by-step journey through the airport based on their flight and location selections and provide more information on services and amenities.

For the website’s future releases, YVR will incorporate suggestions for improvement made by our passengers, employees and communities. This includes more detail on our terminal maps, increased promotional options on our website and more.

4. Budget: 

YVR was responsible for overall management of the website project, which included planning, liaising with stakeholders and internal departments, content creation and migration. Costs for the website development, design, creative and acceptance testing remain confidential between Habanero and YVR.

Sitecore software license (approximately): $100,000
Interfacing with the Digital Gateway: $40,000.
Translation: $30,000
Photography: $2,000