Product Designer, UI/UX, Occasional Illustrator
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Find your best friend


The Problem

There are millions of animals currently being kept in shelters and foster homes awaiting adoption. Many people who attempt to adopt through shelters have a hard time finding a pet that meets their high priority requirements which cause them to resort to breeders.


The Goal (Prompt)

Design a mobile app experience that will help connect people looking for a new pet with the right companion for them. Help an adopter find a pet which matches their lifestyle, considering factors including breed, gender, age, temperament, and health status. Provide a high-level flow and supporting wireframes.


Competitive Analysis

I began with studying popular pet adoption apps in order to see what was currently available in the market. As I went through each app, I listed out their major pros and cons.


Identifying Key Pros and Cons


Key Pros

Apps that were more engaging prioritized vital information of the pets instead of hiding it in a second screen. They also provided key search filters such as type, breed, age, and size, and had recommendations that adjusted according to the user's choice behavior on the app. For users that considered multiple pets at a time, the app had a way to save each one within a favorite list. 

Major Cons

When arriving at a lot of the individual pet pages, I found it hard to see what to do from there. The contact information was not prioritized and was often lost within the page. There was also no way of knowing which shelters would be easier to connect with and many times the health history of the pet was nonexistent. 

Now that the key benefits and downfalls of existing pet adoption apps were identified, I was able to move forward in setting up the user research and think through the questions I wanted to ask.


User Research


I started off talking to people who have either gone through the adoption process or are interested in adopting an animal. I came up with a list of questions and interviewed 10+ people, either in person or through the survey.

List of Questions

  • Do you work full time?
  • What devices do you normally use?
  • Why did you adopt a pet?
  • What do you look for in a pet?
  • Walk me through your research process.
  • What tools did you use to find the pets you liked?
  • What did you type in the search boxes?
  • What websites or mobile apps did you find useful?
  • What is your opinion on adopting from a shelter or foster home?
  • What is your opinion on adopting from a breeder?
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User Personas

After collecting and reviewing the interview results, I was able to create a primary and secondary persona.

Primary Persona: Mother in her early 30s


Who is Peggy?

Peggy is a working mom with two kids. Her and her family are very settled in their lives and have been wanting to adopt a dog for some time. She is the primary persona and represents about 60% of the target users, so this app will really focus on meeting her needs.

What are her top pet requirements?

Peggy and her family have already decided to adopt a dog. As a mom, Peggy's top concerns are the health and behavior of the dog. She doesn't want her kids to have a bad experience with their first pet so it is very important for her to see how the dog behaves with them.

Why would she adopt from a shelter and which ones does she prefer?

Knowing there are lots of animals there in need of adoption, she prefers to start her search at shelters. She chooses shelters based on available pets, ease of contact, distance, and recommendation from other adopters.


Secondary Persona: Working male mid to late 20s

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Who is Max?

Max is the secondary persona, he represents about 30% of the users for this app. He and his girlfriend have been dating for a year and have settled in an apartment within Fremont. 

What are his top pet requirements?

Since Max loves cats they both agreed on getting one. He doesn't particularly care for any specific breed as long as they're cute, healthy, and playful.

Why would he adopt from a shelter and which ones does she prefer?

Max prefers searching in shelters first because the cost of adoption is significantly lower than buying from a breeder. He likes looking into shelters that are nonprofit and within a 20 mile radius.


Goals, Needs, Constraints, and Assumptions 

After understanding the key users for this app, I drew out their goals and needs as well as the constraints and assumptions for this app.


User Journey

From my interviews, I mapped out an ideal user journey versus the actual one. This helped identify major pain points in the user's current process of adopting a pet.  


The Golden Path


The Reality


These pain points take Peggy all the way back to the second step of her journey which over time frustrates her and causes her to resort to breeders.


User Flow Variations

Keeping in mind the user's goals, needs, constraints, assumptions, and pain points I started exploring user flows.


User flow 1: Exploration Emphasis

The first variation lets the user dive into the discover page early on. There they can immediately see available pets to adopt and begin searching for the type of pet they want.

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Discover, Inbox, Favorites, and Profile

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Discover, inbox, favorites, and profile are all essential to meeting the user's needs. Users can search pets in the discover page that meet their requirements. Being connected with the shelters is key so having a separate inbox in the app is essential. Users will consider multiple pets, it's important to save them in favorites. Having an account adds value to the app, and a place where users can keep track of their questionnaire progress and shelter reviews. 

Directly Contacting Shelters from the App

Having a direct way to contact the shelters on the pet page and filling out the required questionnaire solves the pain points of having to contact and wait more times than necessary. The user can see the shelter's requirements before they decide to send their message, avoiding  unnecessary rejections. Once sent they can check the progress in their inbox.

This flow works well for users like Max who does not have a lot of requirements on the kind of pet he wants. He will be more interested in exploring and searching for different kinds of cats.


User Flow 2: Initial Setup for Curated Content

This second flow requires the user to fill out a simple step by step questionnaire that asks about the type of pet they want. Once that's completed they will arrive at a discover screen curated to their pet requirements. The bottom navigation bar has the same features from the first flow.

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This flow assumes the user knows more about the kind of pet they want to adopt. It lets the user to see a list of pets curated to their specific requirements which reduces the exploration work.

This flow actually benefits our primary user Peggy more than the first. Peggy has already done the research on the type of pet she wants to adopt, so she doesn't need to explore that on the app.

Android Wireflow

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Since the discover screen shows pets that meet her requirements, she should not need to spend time setting up filters or going through the search flow, thus saving her a lot of time. 

As users like Peggy interact with this flow more by adding favorites or booking appointments, the discovery content can change or refine based on those interactions.


iOS Wireflow

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Basic Prototype


Hi-fi Sample


Next Steps

  • User test variations with hi-fi prototypes especially the onboarding and shelter connection flow  
  • Test and refine shelter questionnaire steps
  • Test and refine booking appointment to inbox flow
  • Create a user flow for shelters and foster homes to add pets



Thanks for reading!