This is a personal passion project inspired by my friends at the dog run. We always complain about how hard it is to meet up, so I decided to explore that problem through design.
Researcher, UX Designer, Visual Designer
Adobe XD, Sketch, InVision
Owning a dog in the city is difficult, so a communal dog run is a lifesaver for owners with energetic pups. However, owners must time their visits accurately to enjoy the full benefits of the run. Owners often end up waiting alone for other dogs to show up or must hustle away when a dog in heat shows up.
I interviewed and conducted an ethnographic study of the people at my building’s communal dog run to see what their motivations are. The building is very large, so I managed to get a good sample size with diverse backgrounds. I also did some online research to construct a more holistic profile of the city dog owner.
I created two personas to model the main groups of dog run users: The Attractor (Felicity) and The Avoider (James). While they have different motivations for timing their dog run visit, they both share similar goals about their dog’s wellbeing.
Owners would rather guess about who’s at the run than text each other.
“I really don’t want to awkwardly text my neighbors. I’ll go downstairs and take a peek.”
Owners sometimes feel uncomfortable advocating for their dogs until it's too late.
“If I say my dog is aggressive, they’re going to think it’s my dogs fault if something happens.”
Dog owners are looking for a community for themselves and their dogs.
“I like you as much as my dog likes your dog.”
Ideation & Prototyping
Sketches and Wireframes
My prototype focused on the on boarding, list, and notification features of the app. I drew user flows and created wireframes for this step.
Testing and Iterations
I tested my prototype with dog owners in my building who often use the dog run. The main focus of my testing was the onboarding, list feature, and notification features.
SEE WHO’S AT THE RUN
Quickly see if the run is empty or full. The overview list eliminates the risk of showing up to an empty dog run.
GIVE OTHER OWNERS A HEADS UP
If your dog has special needs, let others know ahead of time so they can accommodate you and your dog.
KEEP TRACK OF OTHER DOGS
Like us, dogs naturally like some more than others. Save your dog’s favorite play pals and be notified when her friends are at the run. Flag dogs that she doesn’t get along with to avoid awkward encounters.
This version of The Run Down focuses on getting people and pups to the right place at the right time. The next version would focus on building a community, with functions like event scheduling and chatting. The Special Needs system can also be improved and allow users to request specific actions from other dog run users. Finally, a wonderful stretch goal would be to integrate my app with the building’s keycard system so that users can automatically let the app know when they enter or leave the run.
I feel very strongly connected to this project because it stems from a problem I face daily. This made the project incredibly satisfying to do and helped push me to engage in more natural user testing.
I also learned to be much more empathetic towards users, especially when dealing with personal things like their pets. Being a good designer isn’t just about fixing a problem, but making users comfortable. If someone felt uneasy flagging another person’s dog, then they end up missing out on a large chunk of the design.