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The Challenge:

The condition of domestic pet shelters is that they are over crowded 
and along with that they are constantly experiencing returns within in 6 month of the animal being adopted. Pet adoption centers receives so many applications to adopt a pet and from that to shortlist to give them 
a perfect match with a pet is very critical part of the job. 

With so many people following the ‘Adopt, don't shop!’ ideal, the staff at pet shelters are finding it difficult to manage the huge amount of adoption applications coming their way.
They care about the animals at these shelters and are concerned about what kind of people adopt them. The manual process of evaluating and accepting applicants can be time consuming. Design an experience which will help streamline this process. 


1. Empathize

Millions of animals are currently in shelters and foster homes awaiting adoption. Unfortunately, half of the animals that end 
up in shelters are euthanized due to lack of space (PETA). Although many people are interested in adopting an animal, the 
adoption process can be very difficult and even lead to rejection for applicants (The Washington Post). This causes barriers 
between connecting homes with animals and is a factor that contributes to the overpopulation within shelters.
Also I talked to various pet adoption centers to discuss how do they shortlist people for pet adoption and what are their major 
pain points. Also as the app will be a platform for rescue centers and adoption shelters to enroll their data base onto, 
so I realized our Primary user is clearly the shelter owners & volunteers and conversing with their customers via this app.
So I talked to a lot of potential owners of this app and did a secondary research as well.
Shelter owners and volunteers
Current pet owners from rescue centers,
Pet owners in my society
Single working professionals in my society  
Family with kids and pet and gained a lot of insight from the people in the know.

User Research 
I took one day to do my research on web, through articles etc. And one day to locate people and call connections to have a direct contact with the pet shelters owners and volunteers, current pet owners from rescue centres, pet owners in my society single working professionals in my society, family with kids and pet and gained a lot of insight from the people in the know.
I wanted to understand how people go through the process of adopting a pet and just how they overall view this process 
and the pain points associated with it. 
After doing both primary and secondary research:
These are my findings:


2. Define

The goal is to create an app that an ease out the shortlisting process of adoption for the adoption shelter people.
Main pain points for them
1. Impulse Adoptions
2. Breed Specifications
3. Not enough people to manage applications / pets
4. Breed Gender Male/Female
5. Difficult to categorize the pets category
6. Too many applications
7. People generally don't ask the employees what pet is the right fit for them
8. Pets returned within 6 months
9. Not enough knowledge provided after the adoption for the first time pet parents
10. Have to go to different places for different facilities example, grooming, lodging, boarding training etc.

How do they shortlist people for pet adoption?
With the form they ask the user to fill and a contract.
Adoption fees and medical expenses to be born  by the adopters
Sometimes they ask them to volunteer for a day or two before they make a decision

Via Referrals
Local Vet reference if the adopters have adopted a pet before or had a pet before
No case of animal abuse/Police verification
Go for a walk with the dog (multiple times) and check if they are compatible together and if they are able to handle the dog
Foster a pet before hand for a few days/month

Creating a Journey Map
To further understand where this app would fit into the industry I created a journey map. 
I did this from gathering the survey and user interview data as well as looking through the research to find how the system 
works. From these lumps of information I drew out how the typical ‘pet seeker’ would feel going through this process and how it 
will help the shelter owners/volunteers to sort the right person to fit with the pet.

Primary User Stories
As a pet center/ rescue center owner, I am passionate about connecting the right pet to the right owner.
As a rescue center volunteer, I understand the necessity of appropriate placement for our animals and a standardised 
platform for all the research purposes.
Secondary User Stories
As I’m looking to rescue a dog, I want to do one application for all the different shelters to save time.
As my new place is dog friendly, I am looking to adopt a dog for companionship.

User Personas
Personas are generalized portraits of a specific user category based on research and observation. They serve to check whether 
the software product corresponds to its stated goals.

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Creating a Journey Map
With these insights in mind, I determined the high level goals of the new app. All subsequent steps will be based on the 
following ideas:
The main goal is to help the shelter owner to shortlist the right person to find the right match between potential adopter and pet. 
-The app is supposed to imitate the role of the shelter worker by figuring out their current situation, hopes and wishes and then 
presenting them with a choice of matching pets.
-In order to convince potential adopters to choose animal shelters over breeders or to strength this existing preference, 
it’s key to educate about the shelters and their advantages.
-The third goal is to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for the potential adopters to actually go to a shelter and 
visit the dogs.

3. Ideate

User Flow

After researching the user’s needs and business goals, I created an information architecture to help organize and create some structure for the design. In particular, I focused on ideas for the shelter owner to shortlist the potential adopter via referrals, Home visit, local vet references , foster a pet, volunteering.
Through AI and NLP the app would help the shelter owner to shortlist the potential adopters sorting with few parameters like,
1. Referrals
2. Sorting the animal type | Cat | Dog | Rabbits | Rodents
3. Allergies
4. Pet experiences
5. Foster Experiences
6. Adoption Experiences
7. Previous Pet history
8. Family members
9. Kids
10. Secure Place
11. Home visit
For the people who will be trying adoption for the first time with the answers to question like why do you want to adopt a pet?
The sentimental analysis of the answer would be done by the NLP which can predict the emotion of the writing of the user.

User flow for the pet shelters

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After researching the user’s needs and business goals, I created an information architecture to help organize and create some structure for the design. In particular, I focused on ideas for the shelter owner to shortlist the potential adopter that would be viafilling the form and the application ML and AI will shortlist on the basis of the data in the form they provide.


Using this flow, I sketched out my first ideas of the main screens and how they would be connected. After a couple of iterations, I ended up with the following version. Once I established a general idea of how the content would flow, I began to brainstorm and sketch numerous ideas. 



After simplifying and refining, I turned them into low-fidelity wireframes.

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4. Prototype




With NLP the app can detect the first time users through their answers and through AI the app can help the shelters connect with the right match for the pet seeker and the pet! This can have a great scope for future including adding first time pet users guide, links to vet, grooming services nearby, boarding and lodging, homestays for pet etc.

I learned a lot from this exercise a more in depth research and how both secondary and primary researches help you go forward with a solution.


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