REI Reservations

Our final application design


A reservation app to help REI customers to get personal expert help on their own time.

My Role

I was a researcher and conceptual designer in a team of 3 UW undergraduate students. We also worked with 2 REI UX Designers. I took the lead on literature review, contextual inquiry, storyboards, and user interviews, while others took the lead on project management and visual design.

REI's Problem Statement

REI's Membership Team wanted to know: "How can REI improve member experiences?"

Our Process

This was a two-quarter project with a bulk of the time spent on background research, storyboarding, and user interviews to establish and validate a design direction. Here is an overview of the methods we used at each step:


During our discovery phase, we spent 3 weeks on competitive analysis, literature review, market research, and discussion with REI employees. We found that REI is not sufficiently different from it's competition in terms of merchandise, pricing, or membership benefits. In order to compete, REI would need to improve the member experience by to engaging with consumers on an emotional level. This would influence behavior and value perception.


In our concept phase, we started out by sketching 9 big ideas on paper. We eventually narrowed down to a single design direction through the use of storyboards, card sorting, and a lot of user interviews.

Ideation sketches


Card sorting


Prototyping & Testing

In our prototyping and testing phase, we went through 5 week-long sprints of paper prototyping and digital prototyping with testing in between.

Paper Prototypes

We used black and white paper prototypes early in our design process to get feedback on our concept and flow without bogging the user down in visual design details.


We conducted two rounds of user tests and interviews at REI's flagship Seattle store. Other testing was done off site with those we recruited on our own.

Interactive Prototypes

We used Marvel and Sketch to put together interactive prototypes which users cold explore on a phone.

The Final Product

In our early research, we found that REI needed to connect emotionally with their members if they wanted to retain loyalty. We learned from REI customers that what they most valued about REI was the expert help from enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. However, when we went into the stores, we repeatedly met shoppers who could not find the help they needed, when they needed it. Our design of a reservation system ultimately helps consumers access the trained members most valued by REI in a way that is convenient and memorable.

The Concept Video