Pet Adoption, Website, CityPups

Improve the urban experience of dog adoption.

Image summary titled Modified GV Design Sprint
Graphic depicting process of sprint

Role: I was the sole UX researcher and UI/UX designer for the fictional CityPups brand.

Introduction/Problem: Residents of highly urban cities have unique requirements for their dog adoption searches. Some of the constraints include “itty-bitty living space,” aka small apartments, use of public transportation, limited access to outdoor spaces, and frequently being in crowds of people. It’s important that, when searching for potential pup candidates, the potential adopter can easily locate information about how a dog would meet these requirements. I undertook a five-day modified Google Ventures Design Sprint, detailed below.

Mockup of homepage


  • Increase the adoption rate
  • Happier owners
  • Better “forever” homes for dogs

Solution: The brief requested a desktop website solution.

Tools: Figma, Calendly, Zoom


  • Users liked the new features, particularly the thoroughness of the form and the ability to specify detailed, relevant search criteria.
  • Users appreciated the clear next steps in the process and were more likely to follow through with contacting rescue agencies to inquire about a dog/dogs.
  • Users said they would be more likely to adopt a dog using the updated features of the website, particularly the ability to locate dogs that met their requirements.

Day 1: Map

I focused my efforts on understanding the problem, reviewing the available research, and mapping potential end-to-end user experiences. From the research and the stated goals, I devised a problem statement:

How might we increase the adoption rate and ensure happier owners and better forever homes for dogs?

The research surfaced several pain points, including an inability to locate dogs that matched user criteria specified to urban living, a lack of relevant information on dogs being considered in an urban setting, and a lack of trust/credibility in the system.

In my possible solutions, I wanted to:

  1. Ensure that users are able to see dogs that are highly compatible with users’ criteria.
  2. Ensure that users are able to specify criteria for their needs and wants in their dog search.
  3. Build trust in the system. 

I mapped out a few potential user experiences.

Picture of journey mapping on paper

Day 2: Sketch

Day two began with lightning demos for inspiration. I selected CarMax, Petfinder, and Compassion International as my three primary lightning demos. I suspected that CarMax’s handy comparison feature would be useful in searching for a dog to adopt. CarMax allows the user to compare up to four vehicles without logging in or creating an account. Petfinder is perhaps the largest existing aggregator of adoptable dogs, so I chose to reference it to see what their current experience is like, having used it in the past. The adopter profile inspired part of my solution. Finally, I chose Compassion International, which is a nonprofit focused on sponsoring children, for its emotional plea to users.

Screenshot of Carmax comparison
Screenshot of Petfinder’s form

I began sketching solutions with a Crazy Eights exercise, then selected the adopter profile screen as my critical screen as it addressed the most crucial user pain points.

I sketched a three-panel storyboard of how the screens before and after the adopter profile might look, including fleshing out the adopter profile screen.

Day 3: Decide

On day three, I storyboarded a more thorough version of the solution.

Screenshot of sketches
Screenshot of sketches
Screenshot of sketch

Day 4: Prototype

On day four, I created and iterated on a prototype in Figma. Elements I focused on to address pain points surfaced in the research included:

  • A thorough form for potential adopters to specify their requirements for a dog
  • Verification of rescue agencies/organizations to build trust in the process 
  • The ability to add available dogs to a comparison, to view their details side-by-side
  • The ability to add dogs to a favorites list, so they’d be easier to find again
  • A feature to set up alerts for when dogs matching the user’s criteria are added to the system
  • A feature to analyze the user’s criteria to see where they might increase the number and quality of matches returned via search, particularly if there were zero matches

Here’s a glimpse at the first iteration of the home page and part of the adopter profile form.

The first iteration of the form included a lot of dropdowns, which were quick and easy to prototype, but not user-friendly. I replaced a number of the dropdowns with other options in the next iteration.

Here are the iterations of the home page and the adopter profile form employed during usability testing.


Day 5: Test

During day five, I conducted remote usability tests via Zoom with five users. My primary goals were to learn:

  • Would users find the form intuitive?
  • Which option would users prefer if there were no matches and why?
  • Would users understand the next steps after contacting a rescue agency?
  • Would the new features increase the likelihood of successful adoptions?

I gave all users the same scenario: They were residents of NYC interested in adopting a dog, and they had used the CityPups site before. They were returning to the site to check out new features they were informed of via email.

Users liked the home page, especially the video, which they understood would show them a summary of the new features. They preferred the video to reading about new features. Users easily located and followed the CTA to create their adopter profiles.

Users were impressed, but not overwhelmed by the thoroughness of the adopter profile form. Three users didn’t like the dropdown fields, stating that they would prefer to see all the options at once. 

All users easily navigated the search results page and the contact features. All users reported that they understood the next steps in the message that they received after they contacted the rescue agency. They liked the clarity of the message and knowing what to expect. One user suggested including the same information in the automated email that the message mentioned, so that they wouldn’t need to retain the information by memory.

Users had varied responses as to which next step they would take if they received no matches. Two said they would choose the option to analyze their adopter profile to see if there were compromises they might be willing to make to get matches. Two said they would probably set an alert to receive notifications in the event 100% matches were added in the future, specifically because they wouldn’t want to compromise on any of their prior responses. One said that they would use the view partial matches option, because they felt it was the easiest way to see dogs that might be available.

Users uniformly agreed that the site would increase their odds of a successful adoption.

Further iteration

Though the modified sprint was complete, I spent a few more hours cleaning up the UI, particularly improving the functionality of the form so that it was more user-friendly, eliminating all but one dropdown. Here are the further iterated screens in the prototype.


The five-day structure of this modified Google Ventures design sprint lent itself well to this project. Usability testing yielded promising results, suggesting the solution website addressed user pain points and business goals.

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