Pet Adoption App
The object of this design challenge was to create an experience for people looking to adopt pets from animal shelters. It was important to consider factors like age, temperament, breed, and lifestyle throughout the design process.
In my initial research, I found that animals that get placed in shelters are in a race against time. There are so many unwanted animals that the shelters simply do not have the resources to house all of them until they can find suitable adopters. Sadly, most of the animals that end up in shelters are euthanized. Clearly, the overall goal is to increase the number of adoptions.
After delving a bit deeper into researching this problem, I found that even when pets are lucky enough to get adopted, many of them are returned to the shelter after a short period of time. Some of the reasons for these returns include unexpected difficulties in caring for the pet and miscommunication of expectations. Shelters are generally overwhelmed and sometimes lack the time and resources to accurately describe each pet in detail. In addition, many adopters are undereducated as to what their new pets need.
This was the case for two friends of mine who had to return a dog a few days after adopting it. I interviewed them about their experience, and they stated that they felt the shelter had not provided accurate information about the dog's temperament and needs. They felt misinformed and were unable to give the dog what it needed. A quick search online confirmed that this was one of the most common reasons for adopted pets being returned to shelters. If we can improve communication and clarity of information between shelters and adopters, we can make sure that pets stay adopted.
Finally, I drew on my own experience in adopting a pet and recalled what the pain points were. In particular, it was difficult to keep track of the characteristics, health history, and contact information for the various pets I was looking at across different shelters.
  • 7.6 million pets every year await adoption in animal shelters.
  • 2.7 million of these get euthanized because of limited time, space, and personnel at shelters.
  • Inadequate information and unrealistic expectations result in fewer adoptions and tens of thousands of adopted pets returned to shelters.
  • Increase the quantity and quality of adoptions through clear and thorough information and streamlined communication between shelters and adopters.
Pet Adoption App is a mobile app that lets potential adopters browse cats and dogs that are listed in shelters nationwide. Users can filter by characteristics like breed, size, health, and temperament in order to find the best fit. In addition, users complete an Adopter Profile indicating their home type, schedule, experience with pets, and other factors to match them with the best possible type of pet. When a good match is found, users are notified through the app so that they can benefit from the app through passive use as well.
The app organizes all pet characteristics, health history, contact information, and correspondence for users so that they can be well-informed and properly educated about adopting a pet. In this way, users and pets are both set up for success.
How It Works
  • Pet Adoption App connects with animal shelters across the United States.
  • When shelters receive adoptable cats and dogs, they create animal profiles for them, including information like pictures, breed, age, and temperament.
  • Potential adopters can browse cats and dogs near them, and create their own profile describing their lifestyle and pet preferences to look for good matches.
  • When there is an appropriate match, the shelter and adopter are each notified and begin contact.
  • With the shelter and adopter each able to view the other's profile, communication will hopefully be smooth and efficient, resulting in faster and better adoptions.
After some quick sketches on paper, I went into Axure and created wireframes for the main sections and task flows that I will explain later in this case study.
The idea here was to quickly develop some ideas and put them down on screen and link them together. It is essential to explore how pages and interactions fit together throughout a task flow, and Axure's interactive wireframes help accomplish this.
Information Architecture

The app features four main sections: Home, Adopter Profile, Favorites, and Inbox.


The Home section allows users to browse all pets. There are filters for location, pet type, age, size, breed, color, temperament, and health. Users can browse without first creating an account. Reducing the barrier to entry makes improves user retention.

Adopter Profile

This section shows the user's preferences for adopting a pet. In order to receive pet recommendations, users complete a survey about their lifestyle, home type, household members, and pet experience. Users can still browse without completing the Adopter Profile.


When browsing, users can add pets to a Favorites list. This section provides an easy way for users to keep track of the pets most relevant to them.


This section contains all of the user's correspondence with shelters through the app. In addition, it will show new recommendations based on the user's Adopter Profile.
Personas & Use Cases

1) Cory

  • Manhattan, NY
  • 24-year-old graduate student
  • Lives in a studio apartment
Cory has never owned a pet before. He has always considered adopting one, and finally has the chance to now that he has his own apartment. He isn't sure what type of pet to get and is looking for some help.
Use Case: Cory wants some guidance to find the right pet for him.

2) Donna and Stan

  • Queens, NY
  • A couple in their 40s with no children
  • Live in 2-bedroom house with a backyard
Donna and Stan know what they want. They're looking for a medium- to large-sized dog with a warm and outgoing temperament. Some of the breeds they're considering are Siberian Husky and German Shepherd. They are both experienced dog owners, but have none at the moment.
Use Case: Donna and Stan want to browse for large dogs.
Interactive Wireframes

Task Flow 1: Cory wants some guidance to find the right pet for him.

Please click and scroll through the embedded Axure prototype to follow the task flow. Content in blue is interactive.
Result: Based on Cory's inexperience with pets, limited apartment space, and full work schedule, the app recommends an adult cat with an easy temperament. Cory now knows what he's looking for and feels more confident about his search.

Task Flow 2: Donna and Stan want to browse for large dogs.

Please click and scroll through the embedded Axure prototype to follow the task flow. Content in blue is interactive.
Result: Donna and Stan are able to use a filter to browse through large dogs. After finding one that looks promising, they follow the prompt to create an account in order to add it to their Favorites.

Creating an account and adopter profile.

The logged-in Home screen and a drilldown into a pet profile.

The Adopter Profile, Favorites, and Inbox screens.
Next Steps
A clear next step for this project would be to design the interface that the shelter worker uses to manage pet profiles and adopter communication. In my research for this project, I heard time and again that shelter workers are overwhelmed by the volume of pets to manage. They have a hard time providing all of the information that could help an adopter find the right pet. Oftentimes, there will only be a brief description about a pet based on limited interactions.
If the process for documenting pets' information could be streamlined and improved, potential adopters could become better educated and receive more accurate data and recommendations. This would ultimately result in more adoptions and fewer returns.
In addition, it would be helpful for the shelter worker to receive an Adopter Profile from each prospective adopter ahead of time in order to quickly assess their suitability. If shelter workers can accurately assess adopters in less time, they can spend more time caring for the animals instead.