Snowperson Builder

Process learnings from launching a Snowperson Builder

UX Design




With holidays fast approaching, the UX Studio at IHG sought to broadcast some holiday cheer and thank our fellow teammates for a wonderful year. But how, and what form should it take?


We designed, built, and marketed a snowperson builder, which allowed users the ability to create a snowperson with more than 3 billion different permutations.


I functioned as the developer and creative leadfor this project, with much needed support from AD Sanithna Phansavanh, UX Designer Bobby Papson, Architect Kaela Burns, and Copywriter Stephen Harper.

At IHG, our culture puts a big emphasis on fun. And while we as a company don't really go all-in on company retreats to different cities anymore (like the one I met my wife on), that dedication to keeping morale high has always been a key part of what makes working at IHG a true joy.

Case in point; in a team exercise we created an list of our organizations’ core values, to which our department head specifically asked that fun be moved from the #8 slot to #1. We channel this fun-centric mindset into all of our activities and experiences of all sizes. In addition to being functional and fluid, our work should have personality.

Today, I’ll walk through how we channeled this fun-tastic approach to creativity into our 2018 IHG UX Internal Holiday Experience.

Say that five times fast. 🥴

An animated snowman with a red hat, gloves, a scarf, and some pixelated snow slowly falling in front of him.

We were on a holiday mission.

On the 26th of November 2018, the UX Studio Manager challenged us to conceptualize a holiday card to distribute to our direct partners as well as the company as a whole.

However, as we began to consider our target audience and the what was expected of us as the UX Studio for our company, we came to agree that sending a traditional card wasn't good enough; we wanted to do something bigger. After much deliberation, it was decided that we would create a digital experience to distribute to our colleague, but the question remained; what form should this experience take?

Going into our first meeting, we sought to refine what the goals of this cheer-filled experience were, and more importantly, what values it should convey. Here's what we came up with:

  • The product should convey a sense of teamwork, gratitude, unity, and fun first, and promote the UX Studio second.
  • Users should walk away from the experience with a sort of takeaway that could be shared and potentially revisited.
  • From beginning to end, a lean as possible final product would lend to a quicker, more successful deliverable

With these core goals established, we could begin pursuing concepts. An animated video, an interactive story, and even a customizable holiday MadLib all came out of early discussions. Our third party resource quoted us a build time that would’ve extended past the actual holidays, and so our final product was limited to what our team could create using whatever tools we were experienced with at the time. It should be something simple, easy to use, and quick to stand up.

With that in mind, we set out to create a custom snow-person generator. Easy-peasy.

An animation of the top of the homepage, featuring pixelated trees, mountains, and snow slowly falling.

Not so easy-peasy.

Now that we had a direction, we had a meager three weeks to refine, ideate, design, build (in house) and extensively test this experience. Working through development speed bumps, tight deadlines, and with a necessitated cohesion of copywriting, design and development, we were able to pull off an experience that exceeded our goals of being a fun, user-driven holiday extravaganza.

And when I say we, I mean mostly me:

  • I coordinated the creation of the designs
  • I collected team bios and photos from all our team members
  • I sliced the assets for all the things
  • I built the website
  • I did all the user testing
  • I gave up weekends to making sure that the final product was something we could be proud of

I didn't do it because I had to; I did it because it was fun.

We launched our IHG Snowperson Builder on December 10th 2018, and we had over 350 submissions from IHG personnel and their families around the globe. Each snowman was one of 3 billion permutations of color, apparel, animations and more; no two were even remotely the same.

You can find and play with the (currently non-operational) Snowperson Builder here.

When all was said and done, we took a few days to relax and reflect..... but only a few days. No rest for the wicked, we immediately started ideating for how we could one-up ourselves in 2019 🤔

A screenshot of the snowperson page that the user lands on when they are finished in the builder. Above the snowman is a flashing pixelated marquee which reads "Season's Greetings!"

Gallery 🎨

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