REI Conceptual Redesign

Emily DeWan
Nov 30, 2017 · 5 min read

Project Overview

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) is an outdoor goods store that started in Seattle in 1938. There are currently 154 stores across the United States and it has a very robust e-commerce website.

Research was conducted to learn about REI’s customers, competitors, business structure. The research team was comprised of Jonathan Garcia, Allie Toussaint, and myself (Emily DeWan). We talked with shoppers to discover how customers were experiencing the store, and conducted user tests to see how customers experienced shopping online. The site was analyzed against standard heuristics as well as compared to competitive sites.

This redesign of REI’s website focuses on the categorizing of items and the navigation to find everything.

My Role

Research: Jonathan, Allie, and myself
Design: myself


The research and redesign took place over two weeks in November, 2017.

Limitations, Parameters, Resources, and Materials

Since we did not have access to original REI branding materials, I used screenshots and recreated icons that are currently on the site.

Initial sketches were all created with paper and pen, wireframes were created in Sketch, and the prototype was created with InVision.

Research: Contextual Inquiries

Questions we asked:
How often are you in the store?
Do you prefer in store vs online for your shopping?
Why did you come to the store?
What type of outdoor activities do you participate in?
How often do you do these activities?
Where do you travel for these activities?

General Observations:
Customers were confused about where to join the checkout line. Had to be redirected by a posted employee.
Customers used the map of the store to help find what they were looking for.
Most of the customers had specific items in mind before entering the store and wanted to see/touch them in person before buying.
They used the website to do research and get an overview of what was available before checking it out in the store.
Time-limited coupons were an incentive to get customers into the store
Customers valued knowledgeable staff.

Research: User Testing of Current REI Website

Eight people were tested and interviewed on the current website, both desktop and mobile. Overall the site was very easy to use. Some testers found the number of categories to be overwhelming.

Research: Analysis of Competing Companies

Research: Heuristic Analysis

The REI website was analyzed using the industry-standard Abby Method Heuristics. This looks at specific aspects of the website that are considered to be essential in the structure and design of a product.

Overall, REI’s website is well organized and offers an impressive number of features and areas for exploration. Items are categorized primarily by activity, but are also discoverable through multiple channels, which makes for a high level of usability. Most of our testers did not experience any major issues completing tasks, even as they took different paths to complete them. The mobile experience largely mirrors the desktop experience, and the site is very responsive to scaling down to accommodate smaller screens.

The highly-detailed level of categorization available on the site may be a bit of a weakness. On the desktop version, a few testers seemed to get overwhelmed by the amount of options available in the subcategory menus, quickly abandoning them and moving to the search bar even if the item/category they were looking for was listed in the drop down menu. Greater consolidation of menu categories may be worth exploring to make the experience more streamlined for users.

Looking at accessibility compliance for users with disability, the site is lacking for dyslexia, with using stark white as the background instead of an off-white.

Problem Statement

Outdoor enthusiasts love to explore and purchase new gear for their future adventures. Consumers of REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) are often overwhelmed with the number of options presented to them, even when they know exactly what they want.

How can we simplify the REI shopper’s experience to minimize frustration and leave a positive impression?


Primary Persona
Secondary Persona

Site Map: Original and Redesign

The current site has 13 categories in the primary navigation.

Changes in the redesign:
• Consolidated all outdoor activities into one category
• Separated out Clothing and Footwear
• Removed Men/Women/Kids categories

User Journey: Primary Persona

Initial Sketches

Desktop Site:
• Top-level navigation made more clear
• Main navigation consolidated

Mobile Site:
• Top-level navigation made more clear
• Main navigation consolidated
• Cart icon added to menu

Wireframes: Original and Redesign




Usability Testing: Round 1

Design Iterations: Round 1

Usability Tests: Round 2

Design Iterations: Round 2


With this redesign of the REI website, the primary navigation was simplified to supply the user with an easier presentation. This gives it a cleaner and more sleek look, which many users desire.

The next iterations will be concentrating on simplifying the filtering categories even further — having fewer of them and labeling them with more specific terminology.

Emily DeWan Design

NYC UX Designer and Photographer

Emily DeWan

Written by

Emily DeWan Design

NYC UX Designer and Photographer

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