Imagine REI wants to help remove barriers that prevent people from camping more often. They would like to get more people out enjoying the great outdoors, purchase more products through REI, and become more involved in environmental stewardship. In a recent market research study regarding camping in the U.S., participants cited lack of time due to work and family commitments as the main reasons for reducing the number of camping trips they took.
Usability studies needed to be conducted to discover deeper details about why people felt there was not enough time in their lives for more camping. In conducting interviews with campers, I found a few vital issues related to time and effort in camping trip planning. People were using up to 7 different tools to plan aspects of camping trips with others. Not enough information was provided about campsites before booking. Also, there is no efficient way to plan meals and gear, which is a crucial part of trip planning.
If REI wanted to increase sales and help get people outdoors more often, something needed to be done to minimize time spent planning trips. The Let’s Camp REI web app is a single place that allows users to collaborate all aspects of trip planning in one place. This includes group sharing capability, dynamic and interactive gear/supplies checklist and meal planning list, and the ability for users to add photos and reviews of campsites to provide more information about individual campgrounds and sites.
I kicked off this project by writing a screener and posting to gather potential interviewees. Next, I rigorously researched REI and existing resources for finding and booking campsites. I then compared those sources to find what worked well and what did not. Next, I defined my project mission, goals, and objectives by writing a project summary. Finally, I wrote a script and conducted user interviews, gathering data that eventually informed my persona.
Most of the people I interviewed camped in groups with friends or family. Every user I interviewed reported using at least 3 and up to 7 different tools for communicating with other campers and finding a place to camp. Meal planning was of high importance so that cooking duties could be shared and unnecessary duplication could be avoided. This information led me to the persona of Kerrie Wilson, a busy stay-at-home mom.
With Kerrie in mind, I began the early stages of planning and interaction design. I used concept maps and had users participate in card sorting to identify relationships and hierarchy. Through scenarios and sketching storyboards I was able to get clarity on user flows and site architecture.
Testing and Design
Keeping with REI’s brand, I began wireframing and hashed out the layout based on my content. It was important to keep the look and feel of REI’s website so people would be comfortable purchasing REI products from this external site.
The finished prototype reveals a web app where users can easily find and book campsites, discover activities in the surrounding area, and an interactive checklist for supplies and meal planning. It allows for group sharing so that all planners have the same visibility at all times. It provides one place where people can plan so that they feel less time-consumed in the process.
This project was fun to take on but the scope was very large and keeps growing. Although I conducted usability tests and addressed these issues in my final version, I was constrained by time and was only able to test one linear path. If this project were to continue I would recommend testing different portions of the process separately for more focused results.