"Learn responsible pet ownership before you even get a pet!"

Pet Pointers

This was a hackathon project completed from start to finish in less than three days. The problem was to create a way for older adults to become more sociable through technology.
Duration
Oct 28 - Dec 16 2020
Team
Done Independently
Role
Designer, Researcher,
Tools
Figma, Goodnotes,

What's the Problem?

Problem
People all over the world are getting new pets every day but many have no idea of the responsibilities that come with it. Owning a dog is much more than taking them out occasionaly and owning a cat is more than petting theit head and cleaning their litterbox. Training takes a lot of time an effort that many are not willing to put in even thorgh they already have the pet. Their are also a lot of technicalities with budgeting an scheduling.

Another aspect of pet ownership that is frequently overlooked is choosing the breed of pet. This contributes with compatability and the lifestyle that the owner already has in place. If someone chooses the wrong breed then it could be detrimental to both pet and owner.

If pet owners are able to get a better understanding of the exact needs that they need to meet when bringing home a new family member. When both pet and owner are able to live in harmony and the owner knows the next steps in ownership then it could make the experience much easier and lower the chances of the pet being re-homed for reasons that could have been avoided.
Benefit Sought
Pet owners will be able to confidently care for their pet knowing they have all the resources and help they need.
Pets will be able to come to a home that is ready to welcome them with a plan and open arms.
Trainers will have a stronger bond with both pet and owner knowing that there is a strong sense of communication and responsibility to properly training a pet.
User Needs
Find the proper resources with consistent information on how to properly care for their pet.
Be able to access the help of animal care professionals and confidently ask any questions they may have.
Create a strong bond with their pet through confident pet ownership and find the perfect pet to suit their habits and lifestyle.
Challenging Assumptions
I started this off with some basic assumptions of my users and the difficulties of pet ownership.

- Most pet owners have dogs

- They are not able to maintain a schedule on their own

- There is difficulty in training a pet at home (lots of time and effort)



The assumptions can mostly be tackled through the primary research as the goal of this is centred to different pet owners, so getting a variety of input from different sources about pet ownership is important.

Surveys will be used to challenge the assumption that most pet owners have dogs as it will reach more people than an interview would. Surveys could also help with understanding how many people felt comfortable with their scheduling needs.

Conducting critical incident interviews with current pet owners will show insights into the choices they had made in the past and what they could have done differently.

Conducting interviews with trainers will give professional insights to challenging the assumptions as well as give a more detailed “behind the scenes” look into what it takes to be a responsible pet owner.

Lots of Research!

Research Methods
Critical Incident Technique
Select pet owners will be interviewed with questions involving different scenarios to see how they handled the situation and what actions they would have taken if they could change the beginning of their journey as pet owners.

Elito Method
This will be helpful in deciphering information and better understanding the research I have done. This is usually a team method but I will be altering it a bit to work best for me.

User Journey Maps
This will be based on the people interviewed as a generalization, visualizing how this service will affect them. Specifically the way that a first time pet owner feels using it and how their pet would feel about it.
Trainer Interviews
Interviews were conducted with 2 certified trainers, one of which was a behaviouralist, and each interview lasted between 30 - 45 mins.
Pet Owner: Critical Incident
This was a new method of interviewing and research for me. I had always done standard question answer interviews and this method called for more specific recall on the interviewees end. The question were designed in a way to promote a narrative and invoke emotions and struggles within the interviews.

The critical incident interviews had been done with 2 students that had been new to pet ownership and were caring for their pet with family.
Survey
The survey consisted of 12 questions centred around the habits and understandings of someone getting a pet for the first times. The survey was spread through Reddit and Facebook.
Elito
This is another method of research that I had used for the first time in this project and it served to work very well in organizing my ideas and forming a solution. This method is meant for a team but it still worked very well to organize my observations.
User Journey

Introducing Pet Pointers!

Iconic Representation
Icons will be used throughout the app to make decisions easier. Also give the user a better understanding of the functions of the different features and pages.

Immersion
The “virtual pet” aspect as well as the other features are meant to immerse the user in the experience of owning a pet.

Hick's Law
Following Hick’s Law I want to design in a way that the user does not have to think for long when making their next decision. This will be done through creating an easy user flow and organizing the navigation to follow the user’s journey.
Preparing Pet Owners
All of the research done had lead to the development of Pet Pointers. Some key features include: Choosing a pet, Virtual pet, and Finances.

View Prototype →
What I Learned
Sticking to a Schedule
I was able to create a schedule in the first week and follow it up until the final week. This allowed adecuate time to condict and analyze research, as well as conduct some user testing.

New Research Methods
Looking through the design research method I had discovered the Elito method which I had never been introduced to before, but after using it in this project I found it to be extremely useful and it is a method I will try to implement in all future projects.

Importance of Primary Research
In other projects my main method of research has always been seconday, mostly because that is within my comfort zone. For this iteration my primary method of research was primary research and that showed to be very informative and was able to answer all my questions and assumptions for this project.
Where To Improve
Look at more Design Methods
I would have liked to add more pages that could have made the experience smoother and easier to understand

Conduct User Testing Early
The issues that I had found during the user testing sessions were important issues that I had not noticed when I was designing and prototyping it myself. If I had done more extensive user testing then any issues involving user interaction would be resolved. Also completing the prototype early on would give me more time to make adjustments as there were apects of the app that needed fixing that I had not noticed until I was compiling this document.