Visit Vancouver iPad Application

Creating a Useful Tool

As a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Tourism Vancouver works to enhance awareness and visitation. With the iPad continuing to see strong adoption rates, they wanted to build an app to reach potential visitors in this growing market. It would need to serve multiple functions, ranging from training, to a sales tool, to a visitor guide. Consequently, the needs of multiple audiences, including tourists, travel agents, and Tourism Vancouver's internal staff, would need to be considered in the design of its functionality and appearance. more

An Opportunity to Set the Bar

From the start of this project, our top priority was the end user. We actively employed best practices for iPad UX design and crafted a flexible UI/IA that would adapt to varying content, to create a responsive and enjoyable user experience. 

From there, we considered how people might use the app in different settings to inform how it would work. For example, the majority of its content is available offline. This allows users to avoid expensive roaming charges, regardless of whether they’re on the move or sitting comfortably in a coffee shop.

Showcasing a Highly Visual City

The finished app is highly intuitive and supports the distinct needs of each of its potential audiences. Whether it’s searching for restaurants by type of cuisine, perusing the online magazine, taking a virtual tour of the city, or bookmarking and sharing their favorite pages, users are engaged with distinctive, striking imagery and content that is easy to scan. Meanwhile, there’s added value for Tourism Vancouver’s members and other local businesses through integrated booking links to their hotels and restaurants. You can find the app in the iTunes App store.


The home screen of the Visit Vancouver iPad application uses a set of highly visual icons as a starting point for those visiting the city, or planning a visit. From here, they can take a tour, find a place to eat, look at photos and videos, and more. Users with active internet connections can also access up-to-date weather information.

Curious to see the app in action? The video above provides a brief, 60-second look at what it does, how easy it is to use, and how smoothly the whole thing works. (Incidentally, the video was created in-house, at smashLAB.)

The Tour features large, powerful images from many of Vancouver’s photographers. It starts with introductory pages, like the one above, that explain what’s to come, and provide simple visual instructions on how to navigate (which, in this section is all about the swipe).

Visit Vancouver iPad app tour
Visit Vancouver iPad app tour
Visit Vancouver iPad app tour
Visit Vancouver iPad app tour

Pictured (from top left, clockwise): large tiles allow users to quickly drill down into key areas of the application; users can see videos, favourite content, or email to a friend; application contents can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode; at the end of sections, users are directed to additional information.

Visit Vancouver iPad app videos
Visit Vancouver iPad app video
Visit Vancouver iPad app photos
Visit Vancouver iPad app photo

Video and photo galleries allow users to get a real feeling for the nature of the city, and what they’ll find there. These are fed by Tourism Vancouver’s YouTube and flickr accounts, allowing them to use internal content, while also tapping into that contributed by other Vancouver lovers.

Maps are integrated heavily into the Visit Vancouver application. This allows users to see where hotels, restaurants, and activities can be found, or, switch into StreetView and get a feel for the area they’re interested in.

Visit Vancouver iPad app activities
Visit Vancouver iPad app dining
Visit Vancouver iPad app favourites
Visit Vancouver iPad app events
Visit Vancouver iPad app magazine
Visit Vancouver iPad app about

Pictured (from top left, clockwise): The Activities section index page; restaurants are organized into varying cuisine types; Favourites allow users to organize the things they want to take in; Events are organized by month; blog content is reformatted into tablet-friendly formats; basic content pages provide additional information.


  • iPad application research and planning
  • Information Architecture and wireframing
  • User Experience design
  • Content, copy editing, photo selection/refinement
  • Application development and deployment

Key Benefits

  • Reaches a growing audience of iPad users
  • Serves multiple audiences and purposes
  • Enables online and offline functionality
  • Immerses users in vivid, striking imagery
  • A clear leader amongst DMO iPad apps


  • Pulls fresh content from Tourism Vancouver website CMS & CRM
  • Stores data for offline access
  • Utilizes various APIs and data feeds
  • Highly responsive user interface
  • Integrates with hotel reservation and ticket purchasing systems


"I am very impressed with the finished Visit Vancouver iPad app. It is head and shoulders above any other destination apps I've seen, and a real asset to travellers."