June 2023


Figma, Notion, SurveyMonkey


Mid-Fi + Usability Testing Sprint Lead, UX Design Associate,


Best Prototype

With the increasing popularity of online marketplaces, more and more people are buying and selling items they no longer need. However, individuals who only require temporary use of products may find buying them outright to be both costly and unnecessary. Unfortunately, finding a reliable and convenient platform for renting items can be quite challenging. Those willing to rent out their belongings may also feel uneasy about potential theft or damage.

Rentcycle was the result of a six-week design sprint at UC Davis in 2023 with the Design Interactive Cohort, from April 17th to June 1st. Through a meticulous synthesis of research, ideations, testing, and prototyping in Figma, we created a high-fidelity prototype of an application that seeks to provide a reliable and secure platform for rental purchases, which reduces stressors while saving users money.


How might we design a platform that allows individuals to rent and temporarily use items while providing a seamless and secure transaction experience?



Though this was a highly collaborative project and everyone participated heavily throughout every stage of the process in order to complete the project within the time constraint, each team member was assigned a topic to lead during the 6 week sprint. I lead the team during the times we were designing the mid-fi prototype and conducting usability tests. This included leading group meetings during those stages as well as leading the team in completing certain tasks such as creating a usability script, consolidating the wireframes, and creating a user flow through reminders, action items, and feedback.





We kicked off user research with a general literature review. A few apps we researched were Airbnb, Turo, Idle, Zip Car, Rentle, and Mercari. We then conducted a competitive analysis chart by comparing apps that already exist for renting/selling. By using this method of comparison, we were able to identify which strengths we should pay attention to and which weaknesses/ opportunities other apps have.


We received 82 survey responses. We organized our survey into 3 main sections. One for general questions that inquired about the respondents about their occupation and their renting habits. From this survey, our aim was to identify people’s interest in an app like this as well as some of the concerns and points of value when renting.

Our critical data shows that there is a need and desire for our rental app concept. About 74.67% of respondents are open to renting items from other people, however, are more willing to rent for short-term use. People are also most popularly open to renting machinery/tools for fixing and crafting items. As the renter, 59% of survey respondents value the listing price and affordability.


Our team conducted 8 interviews to get more specific insight into individual thoughts and processes when renting or selling items. The most popular worries as a renter are receiving return reminders, item condition upon receiving, affordability, insurance for more expensive items, accessibility, functionality, and cleanliness. As a seller people are worried about customer reliability, deposit requirements, secure transactions, potential damage, non-returns, and maintained condition upon return.

We also asked questions in regard to what would drive them to rent items. According to the majority, short-term hobbies and activities would be more cost-efficient if items were rented. For example, baking, camping, and art supplies. Interviewees noted they would also enjoy renting for traveling purposes or short-term living situations such as staying in a city for a few months and only requiring an item temporarily. We also asked interviewees what would drive them to rent out their items as a seller. We received responses that said they would be willing to rent out items they rarely use, care less about, or know that their items will be taken care of. A majority had noted that a returnable deposit would be satisfactory to ensure that their item will be financially covered if there were any damages.


Budget-Conscious: college students often have limited financial resources and are constantly seeking cost-effective alternatives. They prioritize affordability making them more willing to rent and sell items.

Time-limited Residency: The average college student lives in a college town for a relatively short period.This makes them more open to short-term or flexible services for renting items for temporary needs.

Close Proximity: Our team worked within the scope of a college town. Based on our survey we found that a majority of renters would prefer to have the item either shipped to them or picked up from the seller. Therefore, quick shipments and meetings would require closer proximity.


Limited Scope of Research Goals: Affordability, rewards system, messaging, and convenience, could have been explored to understand the user persona more comprehensively.

Sellers Were Less Emphasized: The research had a disproportionate focus on the renters’ perspective, resulting in limited data to inform the development of a more tailored listing process for renters.

Small Number of Interviews: Our team only conducted a handful of interviews. This resulted in a smaller sample size and limited insights into perspectives and experiences of the participants.

Ideation + Early Prototypes


During the first part of the ideation process, we started out with a few stages of affinity mapping where we organized our key takeaways from our research. From there, we narrowed down the many takeaways by grouping them by general categories and topics that seemed to be worries or features the survey results showed might be good to add to Rentcycle.

Renters were concerned with the prices of renting

Renters and rentees alike are concerned about the conditions of the rented product and what were to happen if the object was to get damaged

Fair renting policies (3rd party regulator wanted) was desired so no one gets scammed

Multiple people stated they would want to see reviews of renters which would help them feel more secure and trust the transactions


Through the organization of the research takeaways that we identified during the affinity mapping process, we noticed that these fell under two main categories that we grouped together in our user goals. These two user goals were a need for them to rent items for cheap prices in a timely manner, and for them to be secure in the logistics and safety of the process. And from these two user goals, we created some how might we statements that became our problem statements that would drive the rest of our project.

How might we ensure that both renters and sellers feel confident and secure in the rental process?

How might we assure sellers that they will receive items on time while maintaining a flexible renting experience for the renters?

How might we help renters easily rent items at an affordable price from other people?


Using the problem statements as guidelines, we then moved forward into our initial brainstorming session where we sketched out potential solutions to the worries and concerns brought up by the research that would also look to satisfy the user goals. This allowed for a quick burst of ideas to be produced, and we were able to play around with what features might work well together in a combination to make the overall app the most efficient, cohesive, and intuitive for the user.

A saved page that would allow users to save the items that they were interested in for easy access at a later point in time.

An inbox that would include messages and notifications so that renters could easily keep track of their rental dates, could communicate with the sellers for all matters related to a specific renting process with a specific seller, and to increase the trust between the two parties within that transaction to mitigate the worries and concerns that were the focus of our second user goal - to ensure a safe and trustworthy renting process.

An item listing page that included location, reviews, and a pay first system that would also look to decrease the sense of doubt in the process for both parties involved, making sure that the seller and renter both had good records in previous transactions and ensure that the product would be in good condition.

A search system that included individual filters and prompts to help users easily find their item out of the many other items available for rent on the app.


With our brainstormed ideas in mind, we looked to then organize them a user flow to mimic how a user might go about using the app with all the potential features when looking to rent or sell an item out. Through this process, we were able to group all the features we wanted into four main pages and further specify which features might work well together with the existing pages and the flow that we had created. These four main navigation pages ended up being the profile, explore, saved, and inbox pages, which all held a spot on our main navigation bar in the final design.

Mid-Fi Prototyping

Each of us 4 designers used the user flows and sketches we had created in order to build our own versions of wireframes for each of the feature and page flows. From there, we took a look at each of our wireframes and chose our favorite solutions and depictions of features and created a more flushed out mid-fidelity prototype.


The main features we had for our prototype worked to address multiple problems and pain points we identified in our user research.

The explore and search page allowed users to find items they want to rent based on their personal criteria for the object.

The listing page includes a lot of the important information and pictures that users noted in our user interview that they wanted to know about and see.

The profile page with reviews works to address some of the concerns regarding security of renting, holding renters and sellers accountable for how they interact with each other and treat the objects.

The access to notifications and messages allows for clear communication between sellers and renters while also providing a space to notify users of discounts and important dates and reminders, which users noted would be important to them.

The saved section also allows for more personalization and customization within the app. Once we completed, the mid-fi screens, we added prototype functions that allowed us to test the features with users.

Usability Testing + Main Insights

We created an overall scenario for the usability test based on our user research persona and the features of our prototype.


You are a college student living in an off-campus apartment. You are interested in picking up jewelry making as a hobby to fill up your free time, but you are not willing to invest a lot of money into equipment without knowing if you would enjoy it enough to commit to it. As a happy medium, you are now trying the app Rentcycle to pursue a new interest.


Renting Process Tasks:

Rent metal clippers

Save an item for later

Obtain specific information about a product and see lender reviews

Post-Rental Process:

Check return date of current rental


After you had a fairly positive experience renting, you think about the paint materials in your garage you haven’t touched in a while and could make some extra cash renting them out.

List an easel to rent out

See where to view rental requests for your easel


We conducted 8 usability tests in total across both rounds of usability testing, all of which were college students as to stick with our primary target audience and demographic.


Through our usability tests, we identified some problems with the pull up navigation bar we had on our listings page. Some users didn’t know how to interact with the bar at first and tried opening it by clicking on it, but we had only prototyped it to drag up. Another issue uncovered was the current organization of pricing they wanted to see both the daily rate and the total in the menu. We worked to solve these problems by adding the edit button and more interactions with the nav bar so when the bar is tapped, it slides up as well. We retested this pull up nav bar in the second round of usability testing and the users found the flow to be straightforward.


In the first round of testing, the structure of the inbox page made it difficult for users to find where the notifications page was, and many overlooked the notification bell that opened up that page as well as the filtering toggle. To remedy these two insights, when moving on to hi-fi, we restructured the overall navigation of inbox page and turned the toggle into a filtration dropdown system.

We also re-tested this page and the task related in the second round of usability testing in which users found the flow and features intuitive.


Another consistent insight found in a majority of our usability tests in the first round was part of our task about finding information about current rentals, past rentals, and items they were renting out as the seller. Most users would instinctively go to the profile for this information when given the task, which is something we didn't even consider, we had originally put it in the notification inbox. Since I was in charge of designing the profile, I added features to the design to include that information on the profile page, such as viewing current rental dates and listing, adding a review to past rentals, and viewing information and reservation dates in the sellers listings. I also retested these pages in the second round of usability testing, where there was some minor of confusion with the information hierarchy of the popups, which I then restructured after the tests.

Hi-Fi Prototype

Moving into the hi-fi prototype, we applied changes based on our aforementioned user testing results, as well as our design system.


One of our teammates who is skilled in illustration created a mascot for our app, meet Renty the raccoon! He is the friendly face that follows you around the app and guides you through the exciting world of renting. Our inspiration for Rentcycle’s color palette, name, and Renty’s design is the recycle icon. His body is composed of triangular shapes, and arrows are present in his fur pattern.


The main page is the starting point for all rentals! Here, people can sort items by categories, check recently viewed items, and scroll down to view other recommended items. We also included a section that highlights sales on products based on the user’s interests and previously saved items. Users can tap on an item card to view the listing or tap on the top right heart icon to add it to their saved items.

To begin a search, users tap on the search bar to bring yourself to the search page. Here, you can sort items by four main filters: item categories, the distance between your location and the item, dates in which the item is available for rent, and the item’s price range. We based most of these filters and search criteria on our user research findings from competitive analysis, surveys, and interviews. For example, throughout our research, we found that price was a high concern for users when renting items, so we included a price range filter. After the user con firms keywords and search filters, the map on the search results screen gives a quick visualization of items closest to their location, and below that are a collection of item cards that meet the search criterion.


I worked on designing the saved pages and features starting from mid-fi designs to the final product. If users find something you like, they can always find it again by saving it in your collection of saved items. On the saved page, you can organize them into folders you can freely name and arrange at your own leisure. This is particularly useful if users need to rent a collection of items for a particular activity or want to come back to certain items they see at a later time.


I worked on designing the profile page and features related starting from mid-fi designs all the way to the final product. The profile page is a personal hub for each individual user where they can find their own listings, as well as the items they are currently renting or have rented in the past. On the past rental page, users can tap on the item card to view a quick summary of your rental and its due dates. They also have the option to review the original item listing in full. For previous rental items, they can view their summaries and are prompted to leave reviews for the items as well.

Though the profile page is individual to each person, the profile’s listing and review pages are also accessible to other users so they can browse other items the renter may be renting. The review pages are also public which allows users to look at renter reviews which may help them in making a decision to rent something from a renter based on how trustworthy they are.


The item listing page includes comprehensive details about the item. The navigation bar at the top helps people find specific information they are looking for more quickly. Since a major concern from our research revolved around reliability and transparency, we included a review system that shows the previous experiences with any given buyer or seller. We also included a FAQ, safety tips, and rules for item use to help people feel secure while they rent: agreeing to rent the item is agreeing to the terms to use the item correctly.

The renting and item process is rather simple and streamlined. A lot of the process was based on competitive analysis and After reviewing an item listing’s details, users tap reserve at the bottom of the screen to get started. Then, they select the dates they would like to rent the item for and tap confirm to proceed to the rest of the purchase. On the confirmation page, they can review all the necessary details before agreeing to rent the item.


Communication is important! The inbox page helps users stay connected and updated. The messages page gives users the ability to interact with an item both within and outside of a rental transaction. Users can use the search bar or the filters to access a particular conversation quickly.

On the other hand, the notifications page within the inbox reminds users of due dates, informs them of rental requests, and updates them on currently saved items. Similarly to the messages page, users can filter notifications as well.

Interactive Prototype

Our Challenges

Throughout the process, we faced many challenges that served as great learning opportunities for us. But three, in particular, served to be the biggest obstacles throughout our journey of creating Rentcycle.


While creating Rentcycle, we struggled with creating our own unique brand identity as we realized that they layout for a lot of the features that we were thinking of already had pre-existing, incredibly well-working, and effective designs residing in other apps. Some of these included the Saved Page and its similar functionality and look to Pinterest’s Wishlist as well as Rentcycle’s Listing Page and its resemblance to Airbnb’s own listing pages.

In the final design, we incorporated unique colors and a logo (Renty Raccoon) that was very specific to Rentcycle that gave the app its own feeling and experience. Because of this, we were able to mix the already in-use and well-received designs of some other apps mixed with our own design features to give Rentcycle its own look.


One of the most challenging parts of the process was having to limit our ideas due to the short nature of the project. Because a prominent, singular rental app does not exist yet, there was no way for us to draw inspiration when it came to renting out such a variety of items all in one app the way that Rentcycle allowed users to do. This lack of a pre-existing base structure led to a large amount of ideas from our team. But because so many ideas existed, it was difficult in the beginning to narrow down and focus on a set of ideas that worked together that we could complete within the time constraints when it was so easy to be distracted and caught up with a new feature that we would think of that seemed to work well on its own.

We eventually got over this initial hump during the earlier stages of the process as we worked through affinity mapping and user flows, where we were able to place the many ideas that we had in conjuncture with each other to see how the many ideas would work together when they were placed in a flow or category with each other.

Next Steps

After presenting Rentcycle to the judges and completing our final prototype, we identified some next steps that we would have liked to take if we had a little more time to improve Rentcycle even more for users.


Sharing items with friends and family was a feature that we would have liked to pursue if we were given more time, as it would allow the app to expand in an organic manner as people would send items that they were interested in or that they thought others might be interested in. This would lead to more people joining the app and renting from other people, increasing the trustworthiness of the entire platform and encouraging people to be more open about the renting process while also opening up the opportunity for more items to be listed for rent by the increased amount of users.


If we were to implement this project fully and publish it on a wider scale developed into an app, we would aim to create a verification system or partnership with companies on the app so that larger companies such as Home Depot or U-Haul that already have rental programs or services as a part of their business model could post those on Rentcycle. By providing this opportunity for large and trustworthy companies, it would help the users of the app feel more confident in the processes of the app and the process while also helping the app grow as already established companies would draw customers to Rentcycle.


Finally, creating an onboarding and sign-in process would be a built-in feature that we’d like to implement that would help users navigate through the app for first-time visits and to help them familiarize themselves with the app. This would also serve to help cater towards the two user goals we identified during the ideation process as we would use the onboarding process as a means to help users learn how to easily find the items they want at the condition, price range and location that they would want it to be at.

Outcomes + Lessons

The current prototype was the result of a 6-week UX Design process using design thinking. Though we were able to make a fairly complete prototype integrating much of our user research, there are still features and aspects of the app that could be improved upon or have yet to be created as listed in the next steps above. I am proud of our final prototype and what me and my team were able to complete within the time constraints. We all were dedicated and put in a lot of effort and time into it despite also being full time students, allowing us to create what we did in the 6 weeks.

This was one of the first times I worked on an in-depth UX project from beginning to end in a team setting, which helped me learn and understand more about the design thinking process while working with a team. Each of our team members had different strengths and different levels of familiarity with the UX Design process, but we all worked well together and learned from another, while allowing each person to demonstrate their strengths in the project. Working with my team allowed me to understand what aspects of the process we could do as a group and what we could do individually. I found ideating to be much easier and faster in the team setting as we could bounce ideas off of each-other quickly and build off of others previous ideas. I also really liked the ease of getting feedback from my teammates and giving feedback to my teammates, whether in work sessions together in person or sending the team a slack message. I think that ultimately that played a large role in our final clean and well-designed prototype.

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Made with <3 by Evelyn Huey