Reuniting owners with missing pets
Kristen, UX/IxD Designer, UX Researcher
Martha, UX/IxD Designer, UX Researcher
As pet owners with a missing pet, users want to find their pet quickly to make sure that it isn’t in danger because they care about its wellbeing.
A tool that enables users to share information about their missing pets with their community will help them feel more in control and supported in a scary time.
Paw Prints is an iOS mobile app concept that makes it easier and faster for owners to find their missing pets, share information with their community, and access helpful resources.
Enable users to share
Narrow search results for pets
Help users find
The Problem Space
I’m lucky to have never had a missing pet. To fully understand what pet owners feel and experience when this happens, my teammate and I set out to learn more about the context of this space, current market trends and existing resources, and the unmet needs of individuals whose pets have gone missing.
I wanted to understand...
The technologies and services pet owners use to find missing pets
Actions pet owners take to reunite with their missing pets
To understand and identify any gaps within the existing competitive market, we conducted a market analysis. I learned that there were opportunities to help users share information about missing pets and find trusted information about prevention methods and where to go for help.
Most important feature
Pet owners want to reach a wide audience
Pet owners want tips
First, we surveyed 32 individuals who had either lost their own pet or found a pet and attempted to reunite it with its owner.
used multiple methods to find their pets
found pet’s owner by scanning microchip
We then interviewed 7 pet owners who had previously lost pets and 3 animal service experts.
I wanted to know:
What pet owners experience when pets go missing
Which steps pet owners take to find their missing pets
What precautions pet owners take to keep their pets safe
If and how individuals try to help lost or stray pets
The services available to help pet owners find their pets
"Pets are like human kids. They’re as attached to us as we are to them."
- Pet owner
We learned that pet owners typically take the following steps (in this order) to find their
01 Search: The area where pets were last seen
02 Ask: Neighbors and community for help
03 Call: Animal shelters for guidance
04 Post: About missing pets on social media
The good news? Pets are often recovered the same day they go missing. But did this insight mean that there actually wasn’t a problem to solve?
We dug back into our user research and took another pass at our affinity diagram, which gave us clearer insight into the users we would be designing for and the problem we needed to solve. The goals and motivations of our primary and secondary personas overlapped, but there were also enough differences that we could confidently begin to focus on our main user.
Our primary persona, Emily, is an animal lover who has a responsibility for her pets’ well-being and knows what it’s like when a pet goes missing, since her dog ran away last year. She's active in missing pet groups on social media, in case she’s able to help her friends and neighbors find their missing pets.
05 Design Principles
As we began to think about potential solutions, the following design principles guided our decision-making process. I often turned to them to make sure our designs were consistent, efficient, and empathized with user needs.
Keeping in mind our user's main goals - having a way to report missing and found pets and knowing what to do if her pets go missing - my teammate and I came up with the main features that we thought would help users reach those goals.
Pet image scanner to auto-fill animal information
Robust filter options
to narrow animal searches
List of resources to guide pet owners and good samaritans
Although market research suggested that desktop websites would be the optimal platform for our product, we realized that an app would have greater capability for the key features we wanted to design for our users. Unsure which device to design for, we asked users in a preference test.
It turned out that if they had a missing pet, owners would want the flexibility of a mobile device so they could post about their pets while physically looking for them. We decided to design for an iOS mobile app.
We used Figma to collaborate on our wireframes, creating low-fidelity versions of our app so we could test our ideas and iterate quickly.
Formative testing with 3 users revealed that users want to:
See found pets on the home screen
Filter animal results in a certain order
Review and confirm their contact info
Have clearer labels for easier navigation
We implemented these changes and added detailed microcopy when we brought our low-fidelity wireframes into mid-fidelity.
Made “Found” pets tab the Home screen to match users’ expectations and simplified the “Create Report” CTA button
Rearranged the filter order based on user preferences and varied filter options to lessen visual overload
Review Report screens
Included an “Additional Information” field on the Review Report screen for important or identifiable information about pets
Placed an “Add Contact Info” CTA button to the Review Report screen
Added a Review Contact Info screen to give users more control
Used segmented controls on the Resources screen to split display info about animal services and prevention tips
08 Usability Testing
We conducted remote, moderated usability testing with 5 current or previous pet owners. Below are the tasks we prompted to test our key user flows:
If your pet was missing, how would you create a lost pet report?
You want to see if your pet has been found. What would you do?
How would you find other resources to help you find your pet?
Help users slow down.
Test participants responded well to the progressive disclosure used on the Report Lost Pet form because it helped them break down important information into smaller steps. This is especially important since most individuals with missing pets would feel stressed when filling out this report. Preventing users from rushing through the form will help ensure the correct information is entered.
Give users more control.
Users want to make sure they can be contacted in a variety of ways if their pet is found. They may also have reservations about providing their contact information on a public-facing app. I learned that giving users the options to edit their contact information, add additional ways to be contacted, and connect their social media accounts could help them feel like they have more control in a stressful situation.
09 Visual System
The design speaks to users’ potential emotional state when their pet goes missing. I wanted to evoke feelings of friendliness, calm, trust, and hope during a scary time. The blue palette calms users while the yellow palette brings warmth and optimism. Many of our competitors use illustrations, so we also incorporated this concept.
10 Design - Key Flows
Below are the key user flows we designed for our iOS app, which solve for our high-level goals to connect, streamline, and guide.
Create a Lost Pet Report
Report a lost pet and share this information on the app and with your community. Speed up the process of filling out the form by letting the app scan an uploaded picture of your pet and auto-fill identification information.
Filter Pet Listings
Browse found and lost pets or filter listings for tailored results based on identifying information, date range, and location.
Find services to help with a specific problem, like microchipping or reporting stray animals. Browse or search for specific tips to help prevent your pet from going missing.
Designed and prototyped screens illustrating the concept of an iOS app with an image scanner to auto-populate form fields.
Pet owners with a missing pet experience fear, stress, and anxiety. They often don’t know who to ask for help or which local agencies can help them locate their pet. As time is the most important factor in finding their pet, using an image scanner to speed up the process of creating a lost pet report can help them spread the word faster. Letting their local community and friends know that their pet is lost helps them take control of the situation and reach a wide audience that could help reunite them with their pet.
Time: Our pet image scanner not only makes it easier and faster to create a lost or found animal report but ensures that users are entering the correct pet info.
Community: Making it easy for pet owners and good samaritans to create reports about lost and found animals creates a community of users who care about reuniting pets with their owners.
Resources: By providing contact info for local agencies and a list of prevention topics, we’re empowering users to take control of a scary situation or prevent it from happening.
12 Future Roadmap
With more time and resources, I would conduct additional usability testing on Paw Print’s existing features to ensure that the app meets the core needs of users. For future versions of the app, I’d love to design additional features, including the ones shown below.
A proprietary algorithm that would match lost pet information with found pet information. This would reduce the time and effort it takes to search for animals on the app and increase the likelihood that pets would be reunited with their owners. Once the app matches pet profiles, both pet owners and good samaritans would receive a notification and contact information.
Simple gamification methods to encourage good samaritans to be active app users. Users could receive points for sharing Lost Pet Reports on their social media accounts and when they succesfully reunite animals with their owners.refer a venue than B2B customers would.