Cargo: The first of its kind car and gear rental service all in one.


Research, Ideation, Prototyping, User Testing, UI, Branding


Carly Stilson
Maya Suzumura


5 Weeks


Figma, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro

The Problem

Individuals looking to explore the outdoors that don’t have reliable transportation can’t safely get to their destination. Rental car services are often pricey, loaded with hidden fees and inconvenient. Along with this comes the need for appropriate equipment for the outdoors that isn’t always affordable or necessary to buy outright.

The Solution

A bundled car and gear rental service and application that offers an automated experience with transparent pricing and a guaranteed liability waiver.

Key Value Proposition

Whether you are new to the outdoors or a seasoned adventurer we help you get to any outdoor activity. With peace of mind through our transparent pricing and flat rate damage liability waiver.

You choose your car, individual gear rentals, or activity pack, with clear pricing every step of the way. Then we pack your car and notify you when it’s ready.

Your ride, your trip plan and your gear all in one.


User Survey

In order to gain some insight on initial assumptions we surveyed a group of individuals interested in outdoor activities. All of our survey participants don't have reliable forms of transportation.

Survey Highlights


of people surveyed would like to have a forest permit and camping guide for the applicable area.


of people wanted to have an automated experience.


of people surveyed wanted to rent a car that was from 2005-2018, with minor damage to it already.


of survey participants said they trusted Subaru most to take outdoors.

“My last rental car experience was stressful, the company wasn’t clear about their pricing and it was hard for me to relax while I was driving.”

Our Users

Our typical users are 25-40 years old, and most likely don't have reliable transportation. They like to enjoy the outdoors on their time off but don't necessarily have a lot of extra funds for gear.

Our users are leery of traditional rental cars because of hidden fees and a lack of transparency. They tend to only have the budget for what the upfront cost is and any extra fees would break the bank.

Joshua persona for Cargo

Competitive Analysis

An important part of the research process for us involved looking at some existing mental models for rentals. We set out to do some competitive analysis to gain an understanding of familiar flows, price points, and cost transparency approaches.

REI logo


REI has a recognizable and trustworthy brand image that we wanted to emulate in our UI. We took a look at their rental options, imagery approach, and copywriting and used all of those points as a reference when making design decisions.

Uber logo


Uber uses a cost transparency model that offers users peace of mind as they plan their rides. This gives users more agency over their decisions and builds trust with the brand.

Brand Strategy


We chose to partner with Subaru and REI after collecting data from users that they were the most trusted outdoor brands on the market currently.

With those brands in mind we decided to create a clean and minimal aesthetic by using san serif typefaces and minimal color pops which helps to streamline the experience of using our app and builds trust with the user.

We also chose to follow existing patterns within the Subaru and REI brands and incorporated their imagery to draw a connection and create a sense of familiarity.


We discovered during research that our audience is hesitant to take a luxury vehicle outdoors. They are willing to spend some money on a rental but generally have a fixed budget with limited room to pay for added fees.

In response to these findings our pricing is geared toward a more frugal crowd that doesn't care about renting the newest cars and wants to avoid traditional rental settings where price is unknown until the last minute.


Initial Wireframes

Based off of our persona Joshua we created a user scenario that demonstrates the core features of the Cargo application and used that to quickly build out some low fidelity wireframes in Figma.

User Scenario | Joshua

Joshua is looking to rent a regular-sized car on specific dates to go camping with his friends. Joshua has already onboarded by creating an account and adding his preferred payment method.

A lofi wireframe of the Cargo app.

User Testing

Using the low fidelity wireframes we were able to quickly get our ideas in the hands of users for testing.

Key Takeaways

#1 | The forest pass feature was confusing and more complicated than users wanted for a rental experience.

#2 | Participants were excited about the pre-built activity packs but thought that if they clicked the card it would add to cart.

#3 | Users were unsure how many steps it would take to get through the process, and felt concern about the time commitment.

Possible Solutions

#1 | Work on incorporating a feature for a second version that has an educational component and isn't a part of the main flow.

#2 | Add more information to the activity pack cards so that there is a clear option to add to the cart.

#3 | Incorporate a goal gradient feature at the top or bottom of the interface to let users know where they are in the process.


Hifi Flow

With our solutions mapped out after user testing we moved into high fidelity where we implemented our design system and honed in the look and feel of the app.

A gif of the Cargo app flow.

Landing Page

In order to explore the business and marketing side of the project we built a landing page that lays out the brand partnership, pricing, how it works, and a few calls to action.

A scrolling image of the Cargo landing page.


Next Steps

In a version two we would like to explore the option to include forestry passes. It would also be great to revisit user research and conduct some interviews that could lead to additional features.

BackgroundResearchBrand StrategyPrototypingDesignReflection