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Helping Pets Keep their forever Home

TIME FRAME:

12 weeks

TEAM MEMBERS:

TOOLS:

ROLE:

UX research, Interactive Product Design, Graphic Design

MY ROLE:

Exploratory mixed method research

Throughout our research we conducted various modes of contextual research. Personally, I conducted interviews, Surveys, In-text Diary study and literature reviews.

UX/UI Design

We designed, developed and iterated through possible design solutions; I was incharge of creating all digital prototypes and synthesizing user feedback to iterate the solution accordingly.

Rapid Prototyping

Over the 12 weeks we created reached 350 users, which lead to 10 user driven iterations and 60 + screens tested. 

Project Overview

Over half of Australian pet owners openly consider their pets family members. So why are so many prized pets ending up in shelters? According to The Australian Pet Ownership Report, judging by the numbers of pets being abandoned at animal shelters each year, there are clear gaps in many people’s understanding of what that responsibility actually entails. (Animal Medicines Australia, 2016).

 

The numbers are high, the resources are low, and many loving pets are being euthanised in shelters for no fault of their own. So why exactly do they end up there, and how do we ensure that they never lose their loving home?

After reaching out to the community, many distraught pet owners shared their stories of loss, financial difficulty and hitting rock bottom. We discovered that the reason that pets were displaced was to no fault of their own, but due to their owners being unprepared for the worst. So what's the missing link between stable pet ownership and the victims of the above situations?

By giving a voice to the victims of this misadventure we discovered that the situation is created by a butterfly effect of factors in the timeline of pet ownership.

Research

Over half of Australian pet owners openly consider their pets family members. But, judging by the numbers of pets being abandoned at animal shelters each year, there are clear gaps in many people’s understanding of what that responsibility actually entails. 

The numbers are high, the resources are low, and many loving pets are being euthanised in shelters for no fault of their own. So why exactly do they end up there, and how do we ensure that they never lose their loving home?

From our secondary Research we discovered that currently Over 100,000 pets are abandoned  at shelters every year. And every year that number grows. How do we put a stop to this?

To gain a holistic understanding over the problem space, we designed a triangulated research approach. I interviewed current pet owners and listened to their stories and struggles of owning pets. I also interviewed Animal shelters workers and vets, to understand reason why pets are being abandoned and identify knowledge gaps. Whilst my Research partner focused on what role finances play in the Pet owning experience by conducting financial diaries and online ethnographies.

Methods:

Pet Owners

- Semi Structured    interviews
- Surveys
- Financial Diaries
- Literature             
Review

- Online Ethnographies

Vets / Shelter workers

- Semi Structured    interviews
- Literature             
Review

Future Pet Owners

- In-Text Diary          study

I spoke extensively with five Shelter workers, two Vets, five Pet owners and conducted the In-text Diary study.

We unearthed many desperate calls for help - financial help. Many owners were begging for donations to cover vet bills, training and even a bag of food to last the week. While our original assumption was that they may want to temporarily foster their pets, analysis revealed that we were wrong.

People will go to desperate measures for their furry companions. They would rather starve for days than rehome their dog. They will put their own medical needs aside to ensure their pet gets the vet care they need. All because the lack the knowledge of responsibility associated with pet ownership.

Our findings  lead us to a clear problem question 

“How exactly do we educate pet owners and ensure that pets never lose their loving home due to temporary hardship?”

Research Analysis

After conducting my research, I analysed all of my data firstly using a KJ affinity diagram which allowed me to identify a number of key areas that need to be addressed in order to ensure this never happens again. From these areas, we singled out a set of needs we want to fulfil, to help us empathise with the people we are trying to help. (Norman, 2019)

In order to summarise the personas' experiences in the current problem scenario, my team member Ana sketched them into simple storyboards. 

These storyboards were translated into a user journey map, this helped us understand the user feelings, thoughts, emotions throughout the pet owning experience. This provided us holistic understanding of the experience, and allowed us to identify pain points for intervention.

Ideation

We came up with 2 different approaches to the problem. Visualising the problem scenario as a disease, we discovered that we could either treat the symptoms, or prevent the tragedy from occurring in the first place.

Although the “preventative” approach can be implemented through changes in legislation, mandatory screenings and licencing, our team discarded these grandiose plans. What we need is a system that, if built standalone, will have an immediate impact on the problem scenario. 

In order to generate a number of ideas we did forced association by placing a random stakeholder, random action and a  piece of technology into how might we statements.

This lead to over 60 concepts, which we analysed by comparing them against our criteria for success. This left us with 6 strong concepts which we took to the next stage of refinement.

In order to check the viability of our ideas we sought critique from our studio tutor, and processed each concept though a pugh matrix. This matrix contained a set of criteria based on previously identified user needs.

While each concept had great strength in different areas, 3 showed clear potential to be effective solutions. These concepts were stronger in the areas that would have greater impact on in addressing our problem scenario.

Get Ahead

Educational Kiosk

Pet safety net

Iteration

We pitched the early versions of the above concepts to an audience of peers and critics, and received feedback through a matrix format "I like...", "I wish...", "What if..." (Interaction Design Foundation, 2019). We considered this feedback, and re-worked each concept according to the suggestions. 

To objectively confirm that our changes and iterations have made a positive impact, we put our improved concepts through the same decision matrix as their unrefined precursors (Elmansy, 2019) leading us to select “Get Ahead”.

Journey maps were than created to help the team flesh out the concept holistically. The resulting journey map helped us understand the user feelings, thoughts and emotions throughout the experience.  I was in charge of creating the Journey Map.

Rapid Prototyping

Before we jumped straight into app development, we conducted a think aloud sprint with our team (Tomitsch et al., 2018). By creating a set of user goals derived from our needs, we were able to create a preliminary conceptual model of our application.  

We began developing an interface roadmap, to ensure that users can efficiently navigate around the platform, we used persona base walkthrough and abstract tasks to test our Navigational flow.

We then created paper prototypes and assessed the functionality of our interface based off the previously agreed on abstract tasks. During the creation of our paper prototypes, conflict occurred on the most logical way to show upcoming payments for the users pets. We conducted a short A/B testing  to determine our users’ preference in information architecture. Resulting in the users preferring to view all the vet bills for all pets as a full summary, versus split by each pet.

After implementing the above changes, we tested the prototype with another 5 using the same set of in-app tasks. After the think aloud session we asked users for feedback and gave them sticky notes to reflect on their experience with the app, through likes, criticism, ideas and questions matrix. (Interaction Design Foundation, 2019)

Moving up in fidelity, we created wire-frame prototypes in Adobe XD, which we continued to test using the same task-based activities to refine the UI. We used XD Prototype function to add interaction into our prototype.

wire2.png

We iterated the prototype according to user feedback. To test the usability of our Mid-Fidelity Prototypes we assessed the participants ability to complete the concrete tasks and recorded their responses against Nielsen’s 10 heuristics (Nielsen and Molich, 1990). In particular I made the all the Mid-fi Screens and was in charge of iterating the screens according to feedback.

To objectively confirm that our changes had made a positive difference in the usability as well as to scan for new usability problems we conducted a second round of testing on our mid-fidelity prototype. To accelerate our usability testing we choose to test on expert users (Nielsen, 2019), we found this useful as the feedback given by the participant helped us address concerns that may have taken many more rounds of testing with average users to uncover. After this testing stage I was in charge of iterating the prototype to create the final application.

Final Product

Welcome onboard

Get ahead is your new pet ownership companion.

With Get Ahead you can keep track of all your pets upcoming appointments in one place.

Stay informed about Appointments

You can view all upcoming appointments and payments as a convenient calendar

Keep up to date

Make Payments

You can make manual contributions or set up a convenient payment plan.

Not everyone knows exactly how much to save up that’s why to get ahead is here to give you an estimate and tell you how much exactly you should contribute every week.

Support during emergencies

When the worse happens get ahead has your back with one slick of a button you can see all the nearest vets in the area appropriate to your pet type

 

When you arrive at the emergency you pets medical history will be ready to share, you can share there detail with a relative or a vet with one click 

Personal Passport

Get Ahead keeps a record of all your pets important details in one place.

Manages Finances

It takes the work out of staying on top of your finances by managing your emergency fund

 

You can make manual contributions or set up a convenient payment plan.

 

Each one of your recurring payments is fully documented so you can always check what your paying for.