A digital pet adoption experience that matches first time adopters with recommended shelter animals based on their preferences and lifestyle. It will also provide useful tips, information, and resources to aid new pet owners. By targeting young adults through social media, The Dodo and SPCA can form a partnership to educate, inform and provide adoption opportunities in a holistic end-to-end experience.
For this project, I was in charge of brand strategy, research, interface design, and prototyping. I assissted with post production work and content writing. I developed the initial idea which led to the proposal partnership between the two companies.
The Dodo is a digital media brand that produces animal content focused on entertaining and creating compelling stories for people who love animals and care for their well-being. They are currently one of the most popular media publishers on Facebook with 8.2 million fans.
Despite its popularity with the public, many animal rights groups and advocates believe that The Dodo hasn’t taken any real initiatives to improve animal welfare. As a result, they have strayed away from their original mission, focusing more on viral content than meaningful/impactful content. I used this insight as an opening for a design intervention. I framed this problem: How can The Dodo realign with their mission statement and improve their brand image?
With this framing in mind, we started investigating potential animal issues that they could address and provide help with. We found that there is a huge adoption crisis: more than 7.6 million animals are brought into shelters with approximately 3 million of them ending up euthanized.This issue stems from a variety of problems, mainly the perception of shelter animals and lack of education. People have a misconception that they are unhealthy, damaged, violent, or abused (Hollis, 2016). Secondly, many people think that animals in shelters are safe from harm but unfortunately they end up being put down to allow the next batch of animals in.
This provided an opportunity for The Dodo to create an impact and take initiative. As a result, we were able to reframe our initial opening to: How can The Dodo change people’s perceptions of shelter animals in order to increase the number of successful adoptions?
The Dodo is positioned uniquely among pet owners and animal lovers with their strong digital presence and social media content. SPCA has an opportunity to team up with the media platform to tackle the adoption problem through larger exposure, better education and adoption opportunities. Through this partnership, The Dodo can re-focus on their brand mission and gain recognition as a legitimate animal activist organization.
Our intended target audience for this intervention are young adults and millenials. Currently, The Dodo's majority of viewers are between the age of 18 and 34 with 65% of them being female. While researching pet adoption rates, I found that "young adults are still almost 50% more likely than others to purchase a pet from a pet store or breeder, rather than adopt from a rescue organization or shelter" (Batista, 2015) because they think that animals are safe at shelters. There is an opportunity to start educating and informing young people about the benefits of adopting and how it saves animal lives. In doing so, we believe that young adults can have the greatest effect on the adoption crisis by becoming animal shelter ambassadors on social media.
“One of the most direct beneficiaries of the cult of celebrity pet worship are rescue advocates. Famous pets who started life in shelters are great fundraisers for animal causes.” - Corinne Purtill, Quartz (2016)
Ideation & Exploration
Once we finalized our research and built a strong business case, I started mapping out the overall flow and began sketching quick wireframes. I created a high level information architecture diagram to highlight app navigation, individual screens, and interaction flow. I also looked at competitor case studies to see if there were other digital products and/or experiences in the same realm. We wanted to determine how we could be different, how they were succeeding, and how they were failing. We also looked at dating apps due to the intrinsic nature of searching for the "right" person (in our case, a pet).
We also analyzed and dissected pet adoption forms (dogs/cats) from various shelters to determine what details we needed for user onboarding. Based on quick interviews with previous adopters, we understood the adoption application process can seem daunting and require a lot of information. We wanted to scope down and distribute this content so that it would make the experience easier to use and lower cognitive overhead.
User Journey Framework (Adopter)
We created a user journey framework based on the standard application process a person would go through if they wanted to adopt a pet at the adoption centre. We identified key stages of interaction (touchpoints) and defined the major painpoints in the existing process. We wanted to ensure that our design would encompass the whole adoption experience from searching for the right pet all the way to supporting a new owner who has no idea what they're doing. By approaching this adoption problem from a holistic point of view, we believe that we can increase the likelyhood of succesful adoptions while decreasing the chances of adopted pet abandonment.
Pre-Adoption Stage (Discovery)
Potential adopters can be identified through their social media activity with The Dodo brand. Within Facebook's News Feed, The Dodo fans will find advertisements that highlight adoption opportunities as well as introduce the digital adoption app. Users can also learn more through the The Dodo's websites. Users can then download the app or go through the adoption process on a microsite.
Frictions: Most people aren’t actively seeking to adopt shelter animals due to lack of exposure and education. Furthermore, animals are listed on various shelter websites and pet finding websites, making it hard to find the right pet. None of them help personalize your search!
Positive Touchpoint: We're using multiple channels (Facebook, Snapchat, The Dodo website) for discovery of the app as well as educating users about adoption.
Matching Stage (Refinement)
Once the user has creates an account, they will be prompted to fill out a variety of matching questions: basic information, pet experience, adoption intent, personal lifestyle, home & family size, and spending budget. This will help the app show relevant matches that fit the user’s preferences.
Frictions: The adoption process requires people to fill out a long form with a variety of questions that allow the shelter understand the applicant's lifestyle and status.
Positive Touchpoint: By splitting up the adoption questions into individual screens, the onboarding process becomes easier to complete and reduces cognitive overhead.
Browsing Stage (Engagement)
Completing the onboarding section will lead the user to the home screen which will show featured pets and potential matches. Users can browse for adoptable animals by shelters or location. They can also search or use filters to adjust their matches.
Frictions: Looking for the right pet is hard, especially when browsing through shelter animals. Information about these pets and shelters are distributed all over the web making it difficult to search.
Positive Touchpoint: We give users freedom to alter their search parameters by providing them with powerful filters: gender, age, size, physical traits and personality types. We chose not to implement this in the onboarding because we didn't want potential adopters to set pre-biases before they saw the animals.
Selection Stage (Engagement)
Each pet's page features videos, images, animal info, health concerns, and any special needs. SPCA staff can also write personalized notes that showcase each pet's indvidual quirks, favorite activities, and personality. We also provide users with an estimated cost breakdown to help users make better informed decisions.
Frictions: When looking at shelter animals, people generally choose based on aesthetics and/or first impressions which means many other animals get skipped over. Another issue is neglicence of cost and financial burden of owning a pet.
Positive Touchpoint: We're utilizing videos which provide more context of each animal's behavior and personality. By creating emotional and meaningful content, users are inspired to adopt these unique pets that would be perfect for their home.
Application Stage (Engagement)
If the user is interested in the selected animal, they can message the shelter directly with comments/inquiries for further clarification. This will start a conversation thread for the user and shelter. The user can also start the adoption process by answering additional questions and setting up an appointment to visit the shelter.
Frictions: Scheduling and booking appintments is never enjoyable. Neither is filling out physical forms. The app will send the user’s application form, contact information, and any additional questions to the shelter staff.
Positive Touchpoint: We're creating an all-in-one communcation tool that makes it easy for potential adopters to communicate with the shelter. We'd also be providing a standardized CMS and messaging system for shelters that would make managing the shelter easier.
Pending & Approval Stage (Adoption)
Once the user has completed their physical visit, they have to wait for their approval or denial. Users can check on their application progress and receive notification updates on any changes or further things to do. Once approved, the user will be notified through the app to pick up their pet and receive a pre-checklist to help their transition.
Frictions: Waiting for the approval of the shelter can be stressful, similar to an actual interview process. We want to help the users get a better understanding of the adoption process.
Positive Touchpoint: We want to help alleviate some of that friction by giving users more clarity and transparency into the process. In doing so, they can build a relationship with the shelter and a sense of trust.
Post-Adoption Stage (Reflection)
After succesfully adopting the pet, the user can continue to remain in contact with the shelter through the app for support from the shelter staff and animal handlers. Users can ask for tips, advice, and suggestions on how to deal with their new pet. They can also find articles, personal stories, and other useful resources through the app.
Frictions: Raising and taking care of a shelter pet can be difficult especially for a first time adopter. Finding resources may be difficult; people generally purchase pet-related books, search online, or ask people for help raising the pet.
Positive Touchpoint: In order to retain users, we wanted to ensure that the user would find value in the communication and support features within the app. We wanted to make sure that it was easy for the user to find content and material that would help them.
SHELTER MANAGEMENT INTERFACE
Animal Shelter CMS
It was also important to create the experience from the client point of view (animal shelters). We needed to design a management system where shelters could easily manage their shelter animals, communicate with people, and organize appointments/schedules. This system would work in par with the consumer facing app by providing the personalized content from the shelters. We designed a desktop/web interface but this experience would also work on the mobile Adopto app (sign in with the shelter ID).
We looked at various examples of traditional CMS software as well as pet adoption information entry systems. We started out sketching wireframes of the basic screens and website layout: home (list of animals), message inbox, calendar, and people management. Next, we broke up the animal information into different categories to make it easier for shelter workers to input content. My partner converted the sketches and wireframes into mid-fidelity mockups.
Next, I took his mockups and iterated on them to clean up the content and overall visual design. I wanted to make sure that the aesthetics and style matched the app and brand. I decided to break up the animal entry information (long list) into seperate screens to reduce the cognitive overload of filling in one long form. Once we finalized the overall design, Danny took my updated interface and made a quick prototype to run through the CMS system.
“Within the next year, 29 million people just like you intend to bring a pet into their families.If fewer than 10 percent of them—just 2.4 million—choose to adopt, we will save all the dogs and cats who currently enter shelters but don’t find homes!” - The Shelter Pet Project (2016)
Adopting a pet can be daunting and many first time adopters don’t fully understand the emotional, physical, and financial commitment involved. By providing a more engaging and informed adoption experience, we can ensure owners have long lasting relationships with their new pet and reduce the likelihood of pet abandonment. Adopting a pet should not only be fun and exciting; it should ingrain a sense of responsibility and importance to being a new pet owner.
Our partnership proposal addresses this adoption crisis by providing a new platform for SPCAs and animal shelters to start a conversation with young adults. The Dodo believes in working with “progressive partners” to create compelling stories and calls-to-action that connect with their audience. By teaming up with SPCA organizations and other shelters, The Dodo can re-focus on their brand mission, and bring greater impact to sheltered animals.