When Hobie was unable to secure traditional distribution for its distinctly nontraditional board designs, it turned to direct Internet sales as one of the few remaining available options.

“We got a call from Hobie’s Scott Fleigalman who had worked with us on the Fila account,” says Holden Hume of Verb Design, a specialist snowboarding and wintersports agency. “He explained Hobie’s change of direction and asked if we could put together its Web site. We said of course, and then started wondering if we actually could.”

Verb had been branching into new media design after hiring e-commerce wizard Chris Sprouls, and has since designed Web sites for Island Lake Lodge and Bear Valley.

However, Hobie wasn’t simply demanding an image-orientated Web site, but one that would actually be its primary sales tool. On top of all that, the twelve-week project had to be ready in only six. “It’s a tough way to sell a board,” says Hume. “Everyone wants to pick it up and flex it. You really have to explain a lot online to get someone to buy a board they’ve never seen. There really is nothing we can do on that side. But the great thing about e-commerce is you can see results. In the first two weeks of operation, the Hobie site received 40,000 hits. But more importantly, we could tell we kept a significant amount of attention because over 3,000 of these viewers read all the way up to the third screen.” –Matthew Kreitman