General Assembly Capstone Project • 10 min
Paw Pals
A mobile platform where users take a lifestyle quiz and get matched with compatible pets. Users are also introduced to local adoption events where they can interact with shelter pets in person.
Duration: Aug 2019 - Oct 2019 (3 months)
Role: UX Researcher, UX Designer
Team: Independent capstone project
Defining the Problem
How might we design a pet adoption experience that connects people looking for a new pet with the perfect companion for them?
On any given day in the United States, there are an estimated 70 million homeless dogs and cats struggling to survive. Approximately 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats enter animal shelters nationwide every year. To help combat the animal homelessness problem, I established the problem statement above.
Core Experiences
Through generative research from 8 user interviews and ethnographic observations, I saw that opinions surrounding pet adoption and shelters are often based on misconceptions. I designed Paw Pals as a mobile adoption experience that tackles the animal homelessness crisis by focusing on 2 main points:
  1. Connecting people looking for pets with a plethora of compatible animals awaiting in shelters
  2. Addressing the stigma surrounding pet adoption and shelters through education and transparency

Personalized Onboarding Quiz

Pet adoption is all about finding the perfect match. To lower post adoption return-to-shelter rates and create an engaging adoption experience, users are met with a personalized quiz during the onboarding process. Their answers will help Paw Pals fill their feed with compatible pets.

Browse Detailed Pet Profiles

Browse through a list of compatible pets that fits the user's specific lifestyle and criteria.

Unexpected costs and unknown behavior are one of the most common reasons why dogs are returned to shelters. To prevent this, users can access detailed pet profiles that provide complete transparency on the pet's personality, special behaviors and needs, and procedures done.

Schedule a Walk

After finding a potentially compatible paw pal, users can contact the shelter and schedule a walk. This allows users to easily schedule an in-person appointment where they have the opportunity to interact with the pets and determine whether or not they are the right fit for them.

Shining a Light on Shelter Myths

Opinions on shelters and adopting from shelters are often based on misconceptions and general lack of knowledge. To combat this, Paw Pal has a Shelter Fact of the Day feature that helps users learn more about shelters and how much love and care goes on behind the scenes.

Events List

Adoption events tend to result in a plethora of pets being adopted in a single day. Users can access a feed of upcoming adoption events and utilize filters to find the perfect event for them.

Upon finding the perfect event, users can save the date and add it to their Google/Apple Calendar. This ensures that they will receive notifications and reminders as the event approaches.

Personalized Portal

Users can access a personalized portal that houses relevant information like scheduled appointments and saved events. Users can also retake the personalized onboarding quiz in case their situation changes, allowing Paw Pals to adjust their compatible pets feed based on the user's new criteria.


During my research, I conducted 8 user interviews and shadowed an intern at the Berkeley Humane Adoption Center. I also analyzed existing pet adoption products as a form of competitive analysis.

After gathering data, I synthesized the research I collected into 2 main insights:

During my time at the Berkeley Humane Adoption Center, I interviewed a veterinary intern whom provided plenty of factual information to dispel common myths regarding pet adoption:

User Personas

To help me better understand the target audience, I utilized the user research I gathered and developed 2 representative user personas.

Ideation & Low-Fidelity Prototyping

Utilizing insights gained from generative research, I began brainstorming potential features. In August, I attended a Pet Adoption event hosted by the Berkeley Humane Society, an interactive and efficient experience that resulted in the adoption of over 300 animals in need of a loving home.

Having witnessed the effectiveness of pet adoption events, I knew it was something I wanted to focus on. I proceeded to sketch out low-fidelity prototypes of the core screens, primarily focusing on structure and placement.

Mid-Fidelity Prototyping

After sketching a couple paper iterations, I had an understanding of the three main concepts I wanted to implement: Pet feed, Favorites, and Events Feed. The unique selling proposition of my product would be the Events list, where the Pet feed and Favorites list entices users to come out to adoption events and potentially leave with a new paw pal.

User Testing / Feedback

Before transitioning into high-fidelity prototyping, I conducted 6 user tests on people looking for a pet and people who currently own a pet(s).

High-Fidelity User Flow