The What and the Why:
As the proud owner of two Shiba Inus it pains me to think of dogs who are stuck in shelters that are understaffed. There is a shortage of volunteers due to a shortage of volunteer management. However, people often express a deep desire to spend time with dogs. The solution to both problems can be the same - get people who miss spending time with dogs to volunteer at dog shelters.
I designed this app to connect dog shelters with volunteers by standardizing volunteer requirements and incorporating simple ways for volunteers to upload their information.
Some of the existing challenges are:
Making it easy to volunteer
Targeting dog lovers who don’t currently have a dog
Include adoption functionality
According to the National Humane Society, shelters advertise for volunteers as follows:
54% their personal newsletters
45% community newspaper
I addressed these issues by creating:
An app that allows volunteers to upload their information and availability for shelters
An app that encourages shelters to make the same requirements for volunteers
A digital space to see current adoptable animals
After determining the initial problem and ideating some solutions, I interviewed a number of people and created a user persona to gain more perspective and inform my next steps.
Many people don’t know how to volunteer
Most volunteers found opportunity through a friend
In urban areas many dog-lovers are prohibited from having a pet by their lease
College students said that volunteering would be a great temporary solution for both missing their family pet and not being able to have a pet
Before I moved on, I wanted to get informed. I decided to do a competitive market analysis as well as construct some provisional personas.
The biggest takeaway from my competitive market analysis was the lack of existing solutions. Many of the apps that exist are poor. Even more concerning was adopet’s unknown error during sign-up. There was no explanation and no way for me to get help!
I wanted to deepen my empathy for a potential user so I drew up a quick storyboard to explore their journey.
At this point, I felt prepared to build out an information architecture in order to decide upon which screens needed to be built.
The IA for inu is structured on the concept of getting users to input their info once. This can happen either during sign-up or during the volunteer application process - to minimize redirecting the user and encountering abandonment.
At this point I also wanted to flesh out the sign-up user flow to try and detect improvements I could make to the IA.
Creating the user flow for the sign-up process made it clear that I had to create multiple chances for the user to fill out their profile and availability. Additionally, using the confirmation page as a place to include a CTA for the other major function of the app (Adoption) was quite successful in user testing, as the user has the feeling of accomplishment related to a confirmation page, combined with being in the emotional space of wanting to interact with dogs.
After completing the information architecture, I dove into sketches. I played with logo designs and word mark ideas as well (some of which are visible here).
After sketching out all of the screens, I began putting together some wireframes. There was a short break between sketching and wireframes, so I was very thankful for my color-coded notes!
Moving from wireframes to final designs was exciting because I was confident in what I was going for. I put together a UI Kit before I began on these designs to finalize decisions on button designs, icons and typography.
After finishing my designs, I like to utilize the UX Research I’ve completed to create a notification sound design.
The benefits of a custom notification sound are obvious. The user doesn’t need to check their screen to see what the sound was. For this sound, I recorded my dogs collars using a Neumann TLM-103. I then applied EQ to the sound to pull out the low end (not audible on iPhone speakers) and applied a minimal amount of reverb.
Although most of inu isn’t animation intensive, I had a specific vision for the calendar flow that I wanted to flesh out. I created this animation in Principle.
The process of designing inu has been a joy, and it doesn’t stop here! I’ve included some next steps below.
inu has a special place close to my heart. I’ve been to dog shelters and seen the sadness - and I’ve also seen the joy in a dog’s eyes when they get to interact with the volunteers. In the US, there is no shortage of dog-lovers so it seems to me that a shortage of volunteers is something that will only exist until a similar solution to inu is presented. Although I am not in a position to turn inu into a reality at this point, I’ve listed where I’ll be going next with this design process:
A second round of user testing using InVision
Responsive design - adapting to different screens
Updating style guide and UI kit based on iterations to maintain consistency
A second round of UX Research involving more local shelters