In this three week academic project, my partner Cyrus Lau and I proposed and designed Adopto, a digital pet adoption platform that aims to match first time adopters with recommended shelter animals based on their preferences and lifestyle.
We proposed that Adopto would work as partnership between The Dodo, one of the largest social media brands today, and local animal shelters, like those provided by SPCA. The Dodo would use Adopto to help improve their brand image by educating and connecting potential pet owners to sheltered animals.
I helped with researching The Dodo and animal shelters, and the adoption process. I also helped with designing the overall user flow through the app, especially the CMS, but also with creating wireframes and mockups, writing content, creating prototypes, and I produced the final showcase video.
The Dodo is a digital media brand that produces animal content focused on entertaining and creating compelling stories for people who love animals and care for their well-being. They are currently one of the most popular media publishers on Facebook with 8.2 million fans.
Despite its popularity with the public, many animal rights groups and advocates believe that The Dodo hasn’t taken any real initiatives to improve animal welfare. As a result, they have strayed away from their mission, focusing more on viral content than actually helping animals. So we asked ourselves: How can The Dodo realign with their mission statement and improve their brand image?
In order to address this brand problem, we started investigating potential animal issues that they could address and make a change in. We found that there is a huge pet adoption crisis: more than 7.6 million animals are brought into shelters with approximately 3 million of them ending up euthanized.
This issue stems from a variety of problems, mainly the perception of these shelter animals, and lack of education – people have a misconception that they are unhealthy, damaged, violent, or abused. Secondly, many people think that animals in shelters are safe from harm, but unfortunately, they end up being put down to allow the next batch of animals in.
So we decided to investigate further: How could The Dodo change people’s perceptions of shelter animals in order to increase the number of successful adoptions?
The Dodo is positioned uniquely among pet owners and animal lovers with their strong digital presence and social media content. If SPCAs and other shelters were to partner with The Dodo, they could start to tackle the adoption problem through larger exposure for the pets, better education about the pets, and create more adoption opportunities. Through this partnership, The Dodo would be able to re-focus on their brand mission and gain recognition as a legitimate animal activist organization.
We aimed to target The Dodo's current target audience, to leverage their social media presence the best we could - their main viewers are between the age of 18 and 34, with 65% of them being female. While researching pet adoption rates, we also found that "young adults are still almost 50% more likely than others to purchase a pet from a pet store or breeder, rather than adopt from a rescue organization or shelter," (Batista, 2015) because they think that animals are safe at shelters, which aligns well with The Dodo's target audience.
We created a user journey framework based on the standard application process a person would go through if they wanted to adopt a pet. We identified key touchpoints and painpoints in the existing process. We aimed to encompass the whole adoption experience, from searching for the right pet all the way to supporting a new owner who has learning to care for a pet for the first time.
We also analyzed and dissected pet adoption forms (dogs/cats) from various shelters to determine what details we needed for user onboarding, and what could be shown later in the process. I made a break-down this specific adoption form, in order to help translate its different parts into the user experience. Based on talking with previous adopters, we understood the adoption application process can seem daunting and require a lot of information. We wanted to distribute this content so that it would make the experience easier and lower cognitive overhead.
Most people aren’t actively seeking to adopt shelter animals due to lack of exposure and education. Furthermore, animals are listed on various shelter websites and pet finding websites, making it hard to find the right pet. None of them help personalize your search!
Within Facebook's News Feed Snapchat Discover, and their own website The Dodo fans will find advertisements that highlight adoption opportunities as well as introduce the digital adoption app as well as educating users about adoption.
The adoption process requires people to fill out a long form with a variety of questions that allow the shelter understand the applicant's lifestyle and status, and people often don't know what kind of pet would fit them and their lifestyle.
By only presenting the minimum number of adoption form questions up front and splitting them into individual screens, the onboarding process becomes easy to complete, while still getting enough information to recommend pets for the user.
Looking for the right pet is hard, especially when browsing through shelter animals. Information about these pets and shelters are distributed all over the web making it difficult to search.
We give users freedom to alter their search parameters by providing them with powerful filters: gender, age, size, physical traits and personality types. We chose not to implement this in the onboarding because we didn't want potential adopters to set pre-biases before they saw the animals.
When looking at shelter animals, people generally choose based on aesthetics and/or first impressions which means many other animals get skipped over. Another issue is neglicence of cost and financial burden of owning a pet.
We're utilizing videos which provide more context of each animal's behavior and personality. By creating emotional and meaningful content, users are inspired to adopt these unique pets that would be perfect for their home. Each pet's page features videos, images, animal info, health concerns, and any special needs. SPCA staff can also write personalized notes that showcase each pet's indvidual quirks, favorite activities, and personality. We also provide users with an estimated cost breakdown to help users make better informed decisions.
Scheduling and booking appintments is never enjoyable. Neither is filling out physical forms. The app will send the user’s application form, contact information, and any additional questions to the shelter staff.
We're creating an all-in-one communcation tool that makes it easy for potential adopters to communicate with the shelter. We'd also be providing a standardized CMS and messaging system for shelters that would make managing the shelter easier.
Waiting for the approval of the shelter can be stressful, similar to an actual interview process. We want to help the users get a better understanding of the adoption process.
We want to help alleviate some of that friction by giving users more clarity and transparency into the process. In doing so, they can build a relationship with the shelter and a sense of trust. Users can check on their application progress and receive notification updates on any changes or further things to do. Once approved, the user will be notified through the app to pick up their pet and receive a pre-checklist to help their transition.
Raising and taking care of a shelter pet can be difficult especially for a first time adopter. Finding resources may be difficult; people generally purchase pet-related books, search online, or ask people for help raising the pet.
In order to retain users, we wanted to ensure that the user would find value in the communication and support features within the app. We wanted to make sure that it was easy for the user to find content and material that would help them.
We also wanted to put some thought into the animal shelter's side of the process, by designing an animal content management system. We wanted to make the process of entering information about animals, contacting owners, and scheduling appointments was as easy as possible.
I started by sketching out wireframes of the screens we needed, and also tried to break up the content of the lenghthy animal entry forms.
Next, I created quick mockups in Sketch of the content needed and how the content might flow together.
After Cyrus improved the visual design, I put it all into a quick prototype. We broke the long process up into different screens to reduce the cognitive overload of filling in one giant form.
I also designed a quick flow of how the mobile version of the CMS could support the shelter staff and volunteers in taking and uploading photos of the pets.
I would have liked to do more testing and user research with this project. I would have also liked to explore the consumer-facing web platform more, and further flesh out the CMS design to include a full mobile version, as well as the adoption form review process, and volunteer management.