Access by American Express

A conceptual experience design project where we solve a real world business problem.
Business Problem

American Express no longer had a clear competitive advantage due to an industry standard of rewards and other spend-based benefits.

Our concept was to build a mobile app paired with an online site designed to allow American Express members to access a premium tier of their favourite experiences, building on American Express' desire to help their members live a more rewarding life.
Conceptual project, please see process below for video and prototype recordings.

My Role

As a conceptual school project, we worked collectively on all parts with the goal of doing whatever it takes to succeed.

My focus was on research, strategy, interaction designs, and writing the video script.

Things I did

  • Research and problem definition
  • Slides and Presentation
  • Interaction Design and Wireframes
  • Video script and editing

Audience and Opportunity

American Express targets a more affluent clientele who spend on average two to three times more than other card issuers. These individuals often have fewer financial worries and are able to spend more freely. Thus, they are more willing to pay or invest in premium experiences such as VIP tickets and willingly pay higher prices for these experiences.

Within the United States, American Express has a total of 19 cards that we sorted into 3 predominant levels: Green, Gold and Platinum. Each card offers benefits that are unique to each level and our proposed solution maintains this distinction.

The "Closed-Loop" Network

American Express uses a closed-loop network which allows them to analyze trends and information on cardholder spending. It also allows them to provide customized offers to attract and retain customers.With a closed-loop network, only American Express has the ability to utilize cardholder information to this extent. If their competitors attempt to mimic what American Express is doing based on our proposed solution, they won't be able to get the same value in data that American Express has.
We have a tremendous set of assets to draw upon -- our trusted brand, financial strength, the advantages of our closed loop and the data it provides, world-class customer service, and our proven ability to innovate in digital commerce.

- Ken Chenault (Chairman & CEO, American Express)

Existing Frictions

The existing mobile app did not feature any already available membership experiences. The AMEX website where some of these experiences were listed did not appear premium or exclusive where most offers simply link to a partner site that is actually selling the ticket/offer.

Business Value

Higher tier experiences drives higher spending falling in line with the "spend-centric" business of American Express. In addition, the more experiences purchased with an AMEX membership also leads to more incentives for merchants to become AMEX partners and non-AMEX members and merchants to sign up in order to get access to these higher-tier experiences and clientele.

Design and Process

This section focuses on showing a brief summary of the development and design process. For a full breakdown of each design decision and how the project came to be, please feel free to look at our process book.
Process Book (Click to View)

Customer Journey & Touch points

To begin the design process we began by looking at the customer journey of before, during and after the discovery and purchasing of a membership experience. Ultimately we decided the best way for us to intervene were touch points in the "during" process of a membership experience which included searching for an experiencing, choosing the right experience, purchasing the experience and attending the experience.

Main Features

The main features we decided to include with our proposed solution largely came from the journey framework and touchpoints, as well as the pre-existing membership experiences website. Ultimately we decided on including the following main features:

Featured Events

Shows an exclusive variety of experiences that have very limited offers (quantity or time) and are available to all members regardless of their membership level.


Freely browse and discover for new experiences by curated categories.

For You

Recommended experiences for each member based on data from the American Express closed-loop network.


Events occurring within a specific range based on the member's current location (or a location of their choosing).


A list of experiences that the member has shown an interest in or if they decide to not purchase an experience immediately.

Wireframes and User Flow

Based upon the features we've identified along with determining why and how our users might be interacting with our proposal we started to wireframe potential layouts that could incorporate the features we wanted. We also began to sketch out preliminary user flow diagrams to see how users would navigate through various screens and perform tasks.
Sketches based on required features

Preliminary user flow

We started to then put together a few wireframes depicting possible layouts and where key information could be displayed. Once we had a better idea of our user flow it allowed for us to refine our wireframes with proper navigation and menus. It also allowed us to link our wireframes together to see how a user would navigate through the different screens.
Preliminary Wireframes

Refined Wireframes with user flow

Having refined wireframes helped us determine whether our preliminary user flow made sense, especially when it came to how users would go from one screen to another without having to "backtrack" to return to a main screen. We wanted to ensure the main features of the app could be accessed without having to click "back" or have to dig through any complicated menus. This ultimately led to our final user flow as shown below.


Although our design process was not always linear after wireframes we moved onto working on visual design and interactions simultaneously. As group members were working to their strengths I provided a support position in the design of interactions that would not only improve user experience but also included aspects which encouraged and assisted with getting members to purchase experiences and upgrade their membership to the next level. Here are a few of the interactions below.

Browsing for an experience

We enhance the browsing experience in two ways. First is showing experiences that the user is looking for by organizing available experiences in simple yet distinct ways and second is minimizing distractions by automatically shrinking the header/title bar when the user scrolls through a page.

Discovery allows users to find what interests them. There are three panels for conducting a search which can be accessed through swiping to the left and right of the screen. The "For You" page utilizes data from American Express' closed-loop network to provide recommended experiences based on the members' spending habits and past purchases.

Viewing an Experience

Before committing to a purchase, users may want to read more about the experience so the buy button becomes stickied to the top when the user scrolls past it to find more information. This allows them to make a purchase at anytime without having to scroll back to the top. As a way to entice membership upgrades, the experience details passes available based on card levels should a member choose to upgrade their membership with American Express in order to obtain an even higher tiered experience.

We also decided to emphasize on large sized photos that are easily switchable allowing the user to get a good sense of what the experience is like and provides.

Purchasing an Experience

Since buying an experience is an important aspect we wanted to make this process as simple as possible by utilizing the very basic tap interaction throughout the process. The experience name and location comes along as the user taps the buying button to reassure the user they are purchasing the correct experience.

After purchasing the experience we hope to delight the user by reassuring their purchase is now safe in "My Events". The animation which shows the actual confirmation going into My Events allows the user to know where to look for the ticket they had just purchased.

Using an Experience & Enticing Upgrades

When the user is ready to use their purchased experience, they are able to view and open the ticket right from the app. We wanted to make the experience seemingly tangible by animating the ticket folding down to show you its details.

As another way to entice membership upgrades, when a user browses through a category and the listings of available experiences runs out, the user is allowed a sneak peek into what a higher tiered membership offers.

Retrospect and Future Considerations

Given additional time, I would have liked to spent more time on the prototype improving micro-interactions and use of motion to better help provide a realistic and fluid experience. I would've also liked to spend more time looking into integrating the full customer journey into the app. Some ideas included a ratings/reviews system, the ability to purchase add-ons or upgrades, or including shareable guest passes that could be purchased by a AMEX card-holder and shared with friends.

Thanks for reading! 👍

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