COLAB7 - WEB APP

Pet Connect

Find a pet for your lifestyle.

Problem Space Background

From service animals to everyday companions that help curb loneliness, pets can be of huge emotional, social, and physical assistance to us humans. However, owning a pet can be much like taking care of a child. The copious amounts of time, energy, and money required to take care of a pet can be deterring, and there is no way to know which pet will fit your lifestyle without doing extensive research.

The pet finding process is currently riddled with complexity. Deciding which pet will fit best in your lifestyle, then researching what the upkeep of the pet will require, where you can get that pet near you, adoption and vet fees, how you will feed the pet, whether they are likely to have health complications, whether there are any issues about the breeding the seller is keeping hidden, whether there are an behavioural issues being kept hidden; the list of things to check for is massive. 

What if there was a central, standardized hub where you could determine which furry creature would best fit your lifestyle, learn all you need to know about that species and then find a pet near you to adopt? We created Pet Connect to do just this.

User Research & Validation

While the aim of this product is to eventually cover all kinds of pets, we decided to start off with a focus on the most popular and beloved pet animal - dogs.

We talked to 10 individuals who were considering getting a dog or had recently got a dog. We asked them about their dog finding process and what their biggest challenges were. These were our key takeaways from those conversations:

  • An overwhelming majority of people wanted a dog for companionship.
  • 80% of people highly valued transparency in the process of searching for a dog to adopt.
  • 70% of people thought the research involved in the process was overwhelming and wanted it in one centralized place.
  • 60% said finding a specific dog breed/type was important to them.
  • 50% were looking for dogs without any severe health conditions.
  • 50% struggled with finding legitimate sellers or shelters to adopt from.

User research told us that people want and need to have an extensive understanding of the what and how of adopting a dog before making such a big decision. This complex process is lengthened and made more stressful by things like a lack of transparency and trust in the people and resources involved in the process. Some individuals we interviewed went through weeks of sorting through bogus kijiji ads to finally find a trustworthy breeder. Others took a risk and then spent months discovering hidden issues with their dog that they could have dealt with properly had they just been told about the issues ahead of time. 

The current market provides quizzes for people to determine what dog breed would best fit their lifestyle, and it provides sites where one can find a specific dog. But nowhere do these two things happen together, with all the information in one place.

Solution & Core Features

Based on our user research, we decided to target individuals aged 23-40 who were looking to adopt a dog in the city of Toronto. We narrowed our MVP to three main features:

  1. A matching questionnaire that helps a user determine which breed of dog is best suited to their current lifestyle.
  2. An easily readable and informative results page, that can also be downloaded.
  3. A link to adoptable dogs in the city based on the results of the questionnaire.

The scope of this product could have been huge if we factor in the ~200 dog breeds that exist all around the world. We decided to narrow down the complexity by focusing on 5 popular dog breeds within the city of Toronto, and making matches based on the common factors that emerged across our user interviews.

Future features

  • Adding in more dog breeds based on availability in the city.
  • Having an adoption page based on the matching result that shows adoptable dogs available from all different sites and sources (including shelters and private breeders/sellers).
  • Partnering with the Toronto Humane Society, independent pet shops, and other adoption agencies to match results from their available dogs.
  • Scraping Kijiji ads to link to dogs available nearby.
  • Verified badges for adoptable dogs to certify transparency and legitimacy.
  • Centralized vaccination records, behavioural issues, and health records.
  • Matching users with foster dogs as practice for new owners while helping rehabilitate the dogs and potentially find them forever homes.

Design 

Lo-Fi Mockups 

Branding 

Hi-Fi Mockups

Prototype link button

Link - https://www.figma.com/proto/u4uDoGW0X2jctIjx1ei6QB/Pet-Connect?node-id=133%3A1357&scaling=min-zoom&page-id=0%3A1&starting-point-node-id=133%3A1357&hide-ui=1

Team Learnings

Product Manager Learnings:

Ipsita Bhargava

  • Coming from a computer science background, I knew what the engineering side of things looks like while working on a product, but I learned a lot more about what the design process for a product looks like in practice.
  • I learned that it is okay to not stress the little things for an MVP. The most important thing will always be to follow your north star and focus on the core features that bring the most value to the customer.
  • Every team has its own best methods for communication and organization. What works for someone else will probably not work for you as is. You have to know your team well to adjust the processes early on to get the best out of everyone.

Designer Learnings:

Alex C.

  • As a designer I learned how to hand off design work to developers and what is feasible to program within agile constraints. I also found that communication is crucial within every step of the design process. 
  • Small details have a big impact, meaning although your product may only have one feature it can create a big impact on users and the problems they are facing. 
  • Lastly, although this wasn’t a problem space I was the most fond of, I found ways to integrate my design aesthetic through branding, color theory, and layout.

Developer Learnings:

Samuel O.

  • I learnt that building a product is so much more than just coding, It involves identifying problem a problem space, researching the problem space and also user user research
  • I also learnt about what it means to work on a cross functional team. Collaborating with other developers, Product manager and the designer.

Developer's Learnings:

Daniel M.

  • Coming from a development background, I knew a bit about the design side,and during the process of building out our web app. I learned so much more about the process of working with a product manager and visual designer. Such as the way the work flow occurs between the design and development side and how much of a collaborative it is.
  • I had the opportunity to work with a fellow developer and collaborate in an iterative flow. During the time that we had, we looked towards using tools, and libraries that we were familiar with yet at the same time pushed ourselves to build out a memorable and consistent user experience based on the design concepts that were fleshed out by our designer.
  • This collaborative process that I experienced with the team that I was a part of showed me how powerful working within a cross-functional team can be, and how much you can get done in a short amount of time with little to no waste.

Full Team Learning

  • Our COLAB experience showed us just how powerful working in a cross-functional team can be. 
  • We learned how to develop trust within a team so that work & responsibility are shared and everyone is an equal part of the team. Working in an agile way taught us how to get work done in a short amount of time with little to no waste of time or effort.