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How can we improve the pet adoption experience?


Overview .


Aug 2018 - Dec 2018 (4 months)

Team Members

Courtney Allen

Rex McKay

Alana Pendleton

Tools Used

Pen + Paper, Sketch, Invision Studio

My Contributions

UX Design: Created a list of design implications from our findings, sketched potential design ideas for our solution, created a user flow for both the pet adopter and shelter portals, created the product architecture and information architecture for our solution, created an initial prototype for our solution

UX Research: Conducted semi-structured interviews, created and distributed surveys, generated user personas of our user groups, conducted feedback sessions on wireframes, conducted usability testing on our final prototype


Our team focused on designing a product that would help people who wish to adopt a pet. We found that there were some common concerns for potential pet adopters while trying to adopt a pet as well as concerns for animal shelter/rescue group volunteers during the pet adoption process. We wanted to help our furry friends find a new home that they deserve!



How can we improve the overall pet-adoption experience in the greater Atlanta area?

Solution Overview

Thus, we designed a web platform solution with two portals: a pet adopter side and a shelter volunteer side. Both sides would use the same server and communicate in real-time with each other, thus provide a cohesive experience for both sides of the pet adoption process.



Pet Matching

Through the adopter portal, potential pet adopters would be asked several questions about their pet preferences and lifestyle habits in order to be matched with the purrfect pet! 


Detailed Descriptions

Users can see an individual pet’s background, physical and health attributes, and contact information for the shelter.



Adoption Application

Depending on the shelter and their requirements, users can fill out an initial application for a particular pet through this portal that will be then sent to the shelter-facing side of Floofy.


Application Management

Through the shelter portal, shelter volunteers can view messages and applications submitted by potential adopters through the adopter-facing side of Floofy.


The Process





Stakeholder Analysis




Design Alternatives

Feedback Sessions



Information Architecture

Project Architecture

Hi-fidelity Prototyping



Peer Session

Usability Testing

Research .


Semi-Structured Interviews

We conducted several semi-structured interviews to get better insights on the pet adoption experiences of those who have previously adopted pets. One of my teammates and I also went to the Atlanta Humane Society and interviewed the Director of Operations to get a potential stakeholders’ perspective on the pet adoption process.

From our interviews, we found the following concerns for this group:

  • The pet’s personality, behavior and temperament

  • The pet’s history

  • The pet’s needs (responsibility required)

  • The pet’s breed (health implications)

  • The pet’s age

  • Forging a deep connection with pet

  • Companionship and Compatibility for/with existing pet

  • Companionship and Compatibility for/with adopter and/or partner/kids

  • Time, space and cost associated with adopting pet

  • Meeting shelter or rescue group adoption requirements

  • Finding information and education on pet ownership


Narrowing down our data to distill our user groups’ concerns

User Personas

After we analyzed our findings, we were able to generate a list of categories of people who typically adopt: families with children, lonely people, people with lonely pets, hopeless romantic, volunteer, and first-time owners. We also identified their paint points and desires within the context of adopting a pet. 


Based on these categorizations, we generated some user personas to get a better understanding of the types of people that fall into our user group. I made the graphics for our user personas.

Family Mom Persona
Family Mom Persona

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College Graduate Persona
College Graduate Persona

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Caring Partner Persona
Caring Partner Persona

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Family Mom Persona
Family Mom Persona

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Stakeholder Analysis

We also made a list of every potential stakeholder that is affected by the pet adoption process, and created a stakeholder analysis graph to see how each stakeholder would affect our potential designs:


Stakeholder Analysis Process & Graph

Ideation .


Initial Brainstorming Process

We first separated, came up with at least 5 ideas individually, and sketched those ideas on index cards. Then, we all came together and presented our ideas to each other; we grouped our idea index cards based on similarity. A lot of our ideas revolved around the same basic technological concepts:

  • Web Applications

    • Design idea: a quiz that would match certain pets to a human based on factors like living condition, breed preference, etc.

    • I came up with a variation of this idea

  • Mobile Augmented Reality

    • Design idea: a mobile AR app that would allow users to interact with a virtual pet with a customizable personality, breed, and size. This would let users see what a certain pet would look like in their own home.

    • I came up with a variation of this idea.

  • Virtual Reality

    • Design idea: Would be used as a promotional material for animal shelters that would grasp the user’s attention when passing by the shelter’s stand outside of a pet store. The user would become fully immersed in an environment where they would see a pre-recorded video of a certain pet at the event’s interactions with an animal volunteer.

    • I came up with a variation of this idea.

  • Digital Screens (TV/LCD)

    • Design idea: A panel of TV’s that would show various videos of cats and dogs provided by an animal shelter. If intrigued, the user can interact with a certain animal to find more information about it. This would be used as promotional material for the animal shelter.


Our team sorting out design ideas

Design Alternatives

After grouping our ideas together, we came up three design alternatives that could potentially improve the pet adoption process: 


Pet Matcher

A pet matching quiz on the web that allows users to be matched to certain pets based on that users’ lifestyle, preference on breed, size, and other factors.

Scannable Document 25 on Sep 30, 2018 at
PetQuiz Strip-01.png
Pet Quiz 1.png

Sketch (by me), Storyboard, and Wireframe of Pet Matcher

PetPrep Strip-01.png
AR Stance Selection.tiff

Sketch (by me), Storyboard, and Wireframe of Pet Preparedness

Scannable Document 8 on Sep 30, 2018 at


Pet Preparedness

An augmented reality and location-based mobile application that prepares users to own a pet by providing customized information about their potential pet, their required pet care, and the pet adoption process.


AR Pet Shop

An augmented reality mobile application that guides users to explore possible pet accessories or items (ex litter box, bed, etc) through virtual placements within their own home.

Scannable Document 3 on Oct 1, 2018 at 1
PetShop Strip-01.png
AR Placement Page.tiff

Sketch (by me), Storyboard, and Wireframe of AR Pet Shop

Feedback Sessions

In order to narrow down on one design solution, we went around a section of Georgia Tech’s campus, Tech Square, and asked anyone that we found who has adopted a dog or cat (or planning to adopt a dog or cat) to evaluate the wireframes of all three design ideas. We spent roughly fifteen minutes in each interview session and received feedback from a total of seven participants.




We arranged the to-be-gathered feedback into four categories: successes, concerns, recommendations, and overall score. Overall score was an average of all the participants’ likelihood to use each design solution. We asked each participant: on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being least likely, 5 being most likely, how likely would you use this application? We calculated the overall score based on each participant’s response to this question.

We found that majority of our participants enjoyed all three design ideas; however, their likelihood to each design solution varied, thus making the overall scores of each design solution the following:


Design .


Proposed Solution

Based on our findings, it seemed that the Pet Matcher received the most and the highest praise. Thus, we decided to expand on this design idea for our final solution that aims to improve the pet adoption process. After looking back and conducting more research, we realized that the pet adoption process is two-fold, and we decided that our design would have to serve two sides of the process: adopters and shelters. In our current iteration, once an adopter has discovered a potential pet, they can take more seamless action to connect with the shelter caring for them. The shelter should be supported with information on an adopter’s lifestyle and capability to care for a pet, enabling the shelter to better consult an adopter when initially approached.

Thus, we created Floofy, a web-based system with two portals: an adopter-facing side and a shelter-facing side that communicate with each other to provide a cohesive pet adoption process

Since I had the most experience and understanding on how this system could be designed, I took the lead in creating the user flow and information architecture for Floofy.

Project Architecture.png

Information Architecture and Project Architecture of Floofy

First Iteration

Since we needed to design an adopter-facing portal and a shelter-facing portal for this solution, the team split up into groups of two to flesh out each side. My teammate Rex and I took the responsibility of designing the adopter portal. We each took turns coming up with potential design ideas for this portal.


Here are some screenshots of the first iteration that I came up with. I tried to figure out a design that would also be mobile-friendly so that pet adopters could also match to pets from the convenience of their smart phone:

Landing Page
Landing Page

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Describe your image

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Resources Page
Resources Page

Describe your image

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Landing Page
Landing Page

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Sample Screens of First Iteration

Final Iteration

After coming together to discuss our design ideas, we decided to come up with a design scheme for both portals so that we provide an experience that is cohesive and consistent:

Adopter Portal

Final Feature List


Prototype Video

Shelter Portal

Final Feature List


Prototype Video


Evaluation .

Usability Testing Sessions

In order to adequately measure our progress without overwhelming our participants, we divided the testing into two parts: the adopter side and the shelter side. For the adopter side, we searched for classmates who had ever adopted in their life, and for the shelter side, we reached out to the Atlanta Humane Society and met with a few employees on their Midtown campus.


For our evaluation sessions for the adopter portal, we asked our participants to use our medium-fidelity prototype to complete the following tasks:


  1. Find the perfect pet

    1. Note: In order to evaluate the validity of our quiz questions, we created a Qualtrics survey, and participants had to answer the quiz so that they would match with a certain randomized pet.

  2. Connect with a particular shelter

  3. Learn more about a particular breed


For our evaluation sessions for the shelter portal, we asked our participants to use our medium-fidelity prototype to complete the following tasks:

  1. Make sure adopters are ready for a pet

  2. Find out about the adopter’s lifestyle

  3. Quickly find a match for a pet


We asked each participant to ‘think aloud’ as they were going through the prototypes, and at the end of each evaluation session, we asked a series of follow-up questions and asked them to complete a general SUS (System Usability Scale).

Here are our overall SUS scores for both prototypes:



Adopter Portal:

  • Majority of our participants liked our prototype and thought it was easy to use.

  • Every participant commented on the information presented in our portal and really liked all of the specific information we provided.

  • Users were presented with confusion particularly regarding the navigation elements and tab labeling.

  • Unclear what the resources tab was for specifically.

  • Some were confused by the color scheme and weren’t a fan of the gradients used.


Shelter Portal:

  • Our participants responded in an overall positive manner.

  • Mentioned that this system could be beneficial to their organization and would help to eliminate some of their frustrations.

  • Participants expressed confusion when presented with the task functionality.

  • The initial navigation was difficult to understand.

  • Participants found a lot of the features to be useful, but they were not entirely sold on it - most likely due to some of the features not being fully developed.

Reflection .


This project was a very valuable experience for me since I love animals and believe that every furry friend deserves a wonderful home. Thus, it was enjoyable to make a platform that would help improve the pet adoption process. This project also helped me realize that it’s important to understand your users so that you can design a solution that would improve their experience rather than just guessing their wants and needs. This project allowed me to expose myself to various design fundamentals.


If I had to do this project all over again, I would:


  • Try to get more feedback from shelter volunteers as it seems like the shelter portal’s language and navigation was inconsistent to their needs/habits. The overall SUS score for this portal was also not desirable; thus, this side of the system needs the most work.

  • Edit and further define design guidelines so that Floofy has a clear color scheme that is enjoyable to users.

  • Redesign the adopter portal so that its navigation is clearer to understand and can be used on mobile devices.

  • Construct higher-fidelity prototypes so that users could see all of the features and better understand the flow of each portal.



Thank you for reading about my journey with this project!

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