Books and websites are excellent sources of information about specific resorts. Here are the main factors to consider in choosing one:
Travel time. The ratio of travel time to ski time should be as low as possible. If you plan a weekend trip, try to spend four or fewer hours traveling each way (from your door to the resort). If you're planning a vacation of longer than four or five days and don't mind flying, you could go just about anywhere.
Lift ticket costs. The price of a single-day lift ticket can vary from about $15 to $60 (U.S.), depending on the resort. Multi-day lift tickets often offer a discount over the daily price, so they're good values if you know you'll be on the slopes for several days.
Runs and lifts. If you and your companions ski or snowboard at different levels, look for a resort with terrain that's varied enough to keep you all happy. Many people also judge a resort by its lifts--high speed, high capacity lifts may not eliminate long lines, but they do keep them moving. Find out how many runs and lifts a resort has, and what percentage of the terrain is for beginner, intermediate, and expert skiers and boarders.
Lessons. Many resorts offer beginner packages that include equipment, lessons, and lift tickets, providing substantial savings over the prices of individual services. Look into these if you're likely to benefit from them. Be aware, though, that a beginner lift ticket will only get you access to beginner slopes.
Note: Nearly all ski resorts allow snowboarders on their slopes, but some are more board-friendly than others. If you plan to snowboard, call and make sure that boarding is allowed on all trails, and that snowboard rental equipment and lessons are available (if necessary).