Pet Adoption

Helping people find the right pet to adopt from shelters and foster homes

Mar 2020

Role: Research, User Interview, User Journey Map, Persona, Wireframing, UX/UI Design, Prototyping

01 Challenge

Millions of dogs and cats are currently in shelters and foster homes waiting for adoption. Design a mobile app experience that will help people find the pet that they’ll love and fits their lifestyle. Define any and all factors that might be appropriate when considering adoption for both the person and the pet. How are these pet preferences collected from pet adopters using the app?

02 Research

I started out my research with online search first to gain a basic understanding of the pet adoption process and current platform (websites/apps) exists. Then I started planning the interview questions, and my research goal for the interview is to understand

-Pet owners and potential owners' preferences in adopting pets 

-The adoption process and experience that current pet owners had been through

-Painpoints and concerns during their experience

The questions I listed out provided a framework for both my online research and user interviews.


To better understand the problem, I interviewed 7 people to gather qualitative information on their opinions and experiences in pet adoption. Below are the demographics of people I interviewed.

Major Findings

1. Most people know exactly what type of pet (cat or dog) they want before they start looking at available options, but they need help narrowing down the options.

2. 83% of the people mentioned the location of the pet matters to them because they want to pay a visit to meet the pet before officially adopting. 

3. Almost all the people interviewed search online first and look at available adoption options before paying a visit to the shelter/foster home. 

4. First time pet owners are concerned about the reliability of the shelter to choose and value the health condition, age, and disposition of the pet.

03 Synthesis

Based on the interview responses from both potential pet owners and current pet owners, I created an empathy map to categorize their thoughts, motivations and feelings. Then I mapped out the user journey and potential design opportunities for the part where their emotions are low.

Empathy Map

User Journey

04 Define

Based on the interview responses and the synthesis above, I create user personas to help define the decision goals and decisions. For the user persona, I focused on 2 main groups:

- Potential owners looking for their first pet 

- Current pet owners who wants to adopt a second pet

User Persona

Competitive Analysis

In order to identify the market opportunity and construct a solid foundation for the product I'm designing, I looked at the current mobile app exists in the market and evaluated their features and information deemed crucial from the user interviews I conducted. 

Design Goals

After analyzing the current platforms' strengths and weakness, I combined the competitor analysis and user pain points to established the design goals for this product I'm designing:

1. Crate a simple flow to help users onboard and match with potential pets based on their preference

2. Provide transparent and detailed information of both the pet and shelter/rescue/foster home options

3. Create a seamless and intuitive experience to let users understand the process and contact the shelter to book appointments

4. Provide necessary information and tips for post-adoption 

05 Ideation


I started with sketching ideas to help me narrow down the possibilities. Then I kept the ones that I believe are more intuitive and clear to the users, and created the user flow and low fidelity prototypes.


06 Final Design


User Problem: Have trouble figuring out what breed fits them the best. But they have certain criteria in mind of the expectations towards the future pet: specific species, size, age,

Solution: A quiz during on-boarding will help both current and potential pet owners figuring out what fits them the best. By including the criterias that users mentioned, the on-boarding process will provide suggestions on the homepage immediately based on users' preference.

All screens for on-boarding

Location Prioritization

User Problem: Most of the users value location a lot when looking for adoption options because they want to pay a visit and see the pet first before starting the adoption process.

Solution: Suggest gaining access for user's location during the last part of on-boarding. 

Allow both Map and List View for the match results page. Provide the distance of the pet on the results page. 

Location Access Request


Results Page -List View


Results Page - Map View


Home & Search Filters

User Problem: Some users have very specific requirement for their future pet, some others are the opposite, who just want to explore the available pets nearby.


Homepage: Allowing users to browse pet and shelter based on location.

Search Filter: Detailed filters would allow people to narrow down the options based on their preference.



Detailed Search Filter


Pet & Shelter Profile Page

User Problem: Most users value the source a lot, and they hope to find reliable places to adopt the pet. They also want to make sure the pet is under healthy conditions and hope to learn about the pet's behavioral characteristic/dispositions.


Pet Profile Page: Prioritize Health Condition and Behavioral Characteristics in the pet's profile. Use the check mark to specify if the pet is under healthy condition or not.

Allow users to see the detailed page of the shelter of each pet, and provide the ratings and reviews to help users decide if they want to trust the shelter or not. Users can also save the shelter they trust and get updates on adoptable pets under that particular shelter.

Shelter Page: Clear sections indicating contact information, hours, as well as brief introduction of adoption process.

Pet Profile Page

- Pet Basic Info


Pet Profile Page

- Shelter Basic Info


Shelter Profile Page

- Detailed Contact Info


Shelter Profile Page

- Reviews and other available pets


Breeds Page

User Problem: Most first time pet owners know what they want (dog or cat), but they don't know for sure which breed might fit them.

Solution: Breed Page: Provide detailed information of different breeds and introduction to give users a better understanding of which pet might match them the most. 

Breeds Page


Specific Breed Profile Page


Resources Page

User Problem: Most first time pet owners are concerned about the general process of adopting pet. In addition, after they finish the adoption process, they might encounter problems of training and taking care of the pet.

Solution: Resource Page: Provide articles and discussions to help user search/read to address the questions and concerns they might have. Articles would provide tips and suggestions. Discussion section can be used for searching or posting questions related to the adoption process and even post adoption phase.

Resource - Discussion


Resource - Article



If I had more time


Start usability testing to validate the design assumptions. Iterate based on the feedback. 

Finish the dashboard high fidelity design, and the adoption request flow design. 

Consider the other user group: staff from the shelters and foster homes. And think about how to add/change the current features to create better experience for them. 


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