Digitizing a Pet Shelter

I took on a 5-day design challenge with the task to help a pet shelter bring their process online. In my short time span, I worked on user research, usability testing, prototyping, creating a design system, and more.
NimbleRx Design Challenge
Product Design
UX Research
Design Systems
The Problem

Across the country, pet shelters use adoption processes can often vary in steps and time, but something that all pet shelters share is the drive to provide their animals with a loving home. However, even with meticulous care and steps to ensure that their animals are compatible with their new owners, over 10% of animals get returned within the first 6 months of entering a new home.
For this design challenge, my goal was to bring a local pet shelter’s adoption process into an online format to aid both prospective adopters and shelter workers.

The Solution

Nimble Pet Shelter has a website that includes all of the steps and information related to adopting a new pet.

Onboarding Process

The streamlined onboarding process allows prospective adopters to easily sign up and input their pet history information in the form of a brief quiz.

Scheduling a Consultation

Prospective adopters can easily contact shelter workers or veterinarians right on the website to prevent communication from being lost in their email inbox.

Adoption Application

For prospective adopters, the adoption application allows prospective adopters to input their animal preferences and view all relevant information for their potential pet.

Adding New Animals

Shelter workers can manage current and add new pets through the animal portal. There, they can provide details regarding the animal’s age, behavior, medical information, and other information that would be helpful for prospective adopters to see.

Viewing Applications

Shelter workers can view submitted pet applications, where they can compare the animal’s behavior to the prospective adopter’s preferences, as well as update the status of those applications.


Understanding the problem

With only 5 days to complete this design challenge, I wanted to make sure to scope out the problem appropriately to understand the context.
I began my design process by first addressing the following questions:

  • Who are our stakeholders?
  • What does the adoption process look like?
  • What interactions are involved in this process?
  • What are the responsibilities of a Pet Shelter?

Establishing research goals

Since I was working within a limited timeframe, I wanted to best structure my process by first creating research goals that were in the scope of our problem.
Creating these goals helped me decide what were the best research methodologies to understand my different user groups.

Identify the most significant factors that affect compatibility between prospective adopters and pets
Understand how different animal shelters process adoptions
Learn about the concerns and needs of prospective adopters

Competitive Analyses

I analyzed 3 different pet shelter websites to gain a further understanding of the adoption process and identify any pain points in the process. Through this research, I found that some shelters had an in-person application process and some were fully online.

User interviews

I conducted phone interviews with employees from 3 different pet shelters in Washington state. This allowed me to understand more about the adoption process, and see which aspects of the process are difficult for certain shelters.
Key takeaways:

User surveys

To gather both qualitative and quantitative data in a short span of time, I created a survey for potential pet adopters to answer. In one day, I received a total of 21 responses.
I focused on writing a concise survey to ensure that respondents would finish their submission easily.

Synthesizing findings into Personas

After conducting affinity diagramming exercises on the data collected, I found many interesting insights for our two users groups: prospective pet adopters and our pet shelter workers.
After synthesizing my research about our two user groups, I created personas to further understand their behaviors and needs. One of the most important takeaways from creating these personas was realizing that both users want the animals to find a compatible owner.

Problem Statement

After the research was conducted, I generated multiple problem statements that pertainzed best to my data. The proposed problem statement that guided the rest of this project was: “How might we guide prospective pet owners through the pet adoption process in order to help shelter workers place their animals in a well-fitted home?”

User Flows

Creating design requirements

With my problem statement in mind, I created 4 design requirements to address the needs of our two user groups. I solidified these requirements by specifying the action, object, and context in each requirement.

Information Architecture

I created two separate information architecture diagrams to structure the two sides of my prototype: the Pet Adopter flow and the Shelter Worker flow.

Prototyping & Testing

Paper prototyping

After creating IA diagrams, I began ideating different screens on pieces of paper. After continually refining my ideas, I then created a paper prototype due to my time constraints.

Usability testing: Low fidelity

I gathered feedback on my paper prototype by conducting a usability test that targeted the 5 primary flows I had created. Due to the nature of the prototype, I was unable to schedule more testing sessions; however, this allowed me to go in depth with the tester and understand their thoughts and emotions while navigating the website.

High fidelity prototype

After making adjustments to my paper prototype from the initial usability testing, I created a high fidelity prototype. From the feedback on my lofi prototype, I focused on making the task flows more efficient and intuitive for both pet adopters and shelter workers.

Usability testing: High fidelity

I tested out the high fidelity prototype to ensure that the interactions for this iteration felt intuitive to any potential users. In my short time for this project, I was able to squeeze 2 usability tests on this prototype.

Color & typography

I chose a color palette with primarily blue tones to evoke feelings to trust and care, similar to the care that many shelter workers feel toward their animals.
I used a sans serif typeface to allow for ease of readability and to make the website feel very modern.

Design system

Many of the task flows for the Nimble Pet Shelter require input from both users. To keep the overall interface cohesive, I created a design system of components to reuse.

Interactive Prototype

Feel free to play around with the Nimble Pet Shelter prototype below! Please use the left sidebar on Figma to select from the designed user flows.


Overall, with only 5 days to complete this design challenge, I am incredibly proud of the work I finished. However, if given more time, I would definitely take the time to:

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