The Problem

When pets are adopted or rehomed, both pets and pet owners undergo an adjustment phase that may be challenging and stressful. For pets, changes in their environment and lifestyle post-adoption can manifest in anxiety, phobias, and destructive behaviors that may not have been observed before. These behavioral issues are the primary reason for pet relinquishment. The goal of this project was thus to design a pet-centric solution that better supports pet owners in understanding and adapting to the needs of their new pets during the adjustment phase. 

Lead UX Researcher, UX Designer
Aug 2022 - Dec 2022
Qualtrics, Figma, Miro
Prachi Chopde, Karla Gil, Yuwei Li

The Process

This work was a part of a semester long project in one of my core courses at Georgia Tech titled ‘HCI Foundations.’ For this project, my team partnered with Pumpkin, a pet insurance company whose mission is to keep pets healthy. The goal of our process was to develop a user-centered, evidence-based design solution.

The Solution

Based on findings extrapolated from our data gathered through a survey and interviews, we devised Pawxy. Pawxy is a mobile application that provides personalized care packages to pet owners based on their pet's unique needs. As a pet's needs evolve, recommendations adapt to address them. Pawxy also serves as a central resource for pet owners to discover new tools and tips to better support their pet, as well as seek expert guidance in addressing observed behavioral issues.


The initial research for this project was divided into two phases. With both phases, we aimed to gain a deeper contextual understanding of our problem space, as well as an understanding of the needs and pain points of our target user group

We first began with an exploratory phase, involving a literature review and competitive analysis. Our second phase of research engaged real users as we sought to understand their behaviors, habits, and attitudes through surveys and interviews.  

Following the collection of data using the above methods, we consolidated our data into an affinity map, from which we were able to extrapolate several research findings and insights. These research findings informed our creation of storyboards and generation of design concepts.

Literature Review

To get a better understanding of the context we were designing for, the team began with a comprehensive literature review. The goal of our literature review was to define user group characteristics, understand common issues faced by pets and owners post-adoption, and identify current practices within the pet adoption and adjustment space.

Competitive Analysis

As part of our secondary research, we also looked at existing technologies, products, and processes on the market that support both pet adoption and adjustment. We identified four commonly used tools and technologies used by new and prospective pet owners, including matching programs such as Meet Your Match, behavioral management products, PetFinder, and GoodPup, a dogtraining application. We chose to conduct a competitive analysis to determine these existing solutions' strengths and weaknesses, and identify opportunities for improvement. From our analysis we learned:

  1. While MeetYourMatch is designed to match owners and pets based on compatibility, the lack of experience makes many first-time adopters unlikely to meet the adoption criteria for shelters
  2. Many existing tools fail to consider both owner and pets' lifestyles in showing adoptable animals
  3. Training services and in app one-on-one expert consultations are often costly
  4. There are a vast amount of behavioral aid tools on the market with varying amounts of succes for different pets
  5. Most existing services fail to consider pets' unique quirks, and how this impacts the their needs.

The primary purpose of our survey was to garner a high-level understanding of our users’ pain points and needs through the adoption process and adjustment phase. We focused our survey questions on users’ current habits, attitudes, and behaviors around pet ownership. This would allow us to identify the services pet owners use to adopt, challenges first-time and existing pet owners face, and the hurdles prospective pet owners face in choosing to adopt.

Our final survey in Qualtrics consisted of 31 questions total, with different logic flows for existing and prospective pet owners. We distributed the survey across Slack channels and reddit threads. We received a total of 27 responses, out of which 25 were current/previous pet owners and 2 were prospective pet owners.


Of the pet owners surveyed, we found:

Semi-Structured Interviews

Following the collection of qualitative and quantitative data from our survey, we chose to conduct semi-structured interviews to dive deeper into our users' attitudes, beliefs, and emotions towards pet ownership.

In total, we recruited 5 participants - four pet owners and a veterinarian - for hour long interviews. We asked questions in a semi-structured format, allowing for flexibility in asking follow-up questions as needed. We based the interview questions on the trends and patterns observed in the survey responses. Our interview questions were exploratory, following up on the insights and experiences relevant to our problem space.

Data Analysis

To organize and understand the data collected from our user interviews, we chose to create an affinity map. By visualizing the information hierarchy, affinity maps facilitate the generation of new insights and highlight emerging patterns and themes in the data. The process of collaboratively immersing ourselves in the data makes affinity modeling a strong tool to build design ideas off of each other and understand overarching themes in our data.

With the 5 interviews we conducted, we were able to transcribe audio recordings and utilize notes to generate 150 interpretation notes. Over several hours, we then worked to group our interpretation notes based on the general topics and behaviors.

Based on the groupings in our affinity map and data collected from our survey, we generated the following insights.


Our design process began with an ideation phase, in which we brainstormed design concepts based on our research-backed functional and non-functional requirements.

Establishing Design Requirements

Using our findings from the literature review, competitive analysis, survey, and interviews, we established functional and non-functional design requirements.

Functional Requirements

Non-Functional Requirements


Following our research analysis, we conducted a 20-minute session where we each put all our design ideas on a Miro board. These ranged from feasible solutions to impractical, out-of-the-box ideas. As a team, we each elaborated on our ideas at the end of the session. With the ideas on the Miro board, we combined different design ideas or expanded upon existing ones to produce creative ideas that addressed our user requirements. Through discussion of the areas of the problem space that each design idea addressed and the feasibility of each idea, we narrowed down our ideas to 10 design concepts.

10 Design Ideas

Top 2 Design Ideas

After analyzing how our 10 design concepts satisfied our research-backed design requirements and user goals, we were able to select our top 2 design ideas. We chose to combine ideas and build upon our initial concepts to create a

Idea 1: Meet My Pet

Meet My Pet is an application that helps pet parents connect with other experienced pet parents, or “mentors” based on location. It allows users to create a profile for their pet describing their pet's unique traits and behaviors discovered so far and seek mentorship in a specific category such as “training”, “behavior management”, “socializing”, etc. Online resources are the first place pet parents turn to for help with their pets. Meet My Pet gives pet parents a more personal and customized solution with their help-finding. It reduces the need to navigate through multiple resources, allowing pet owners to learn from other's experiences with like-minded pets.

To help us select a solution to move forward with, we chose to identify the strengths and weaknesses of top two ideas.

Solution Strengths:

  • Minimizes the need to scroll through multiple pages of resources on the internet, by connecting you to a knowledgeable mentor who faced similar challenges
  • Takes into account a pet's unique behavior and personality by matching owners with like-minded pets. This can make the transition into a new environment easier for both the pet and owner.
  • Meeting other experienced pet owners that went through the same situation, gives users a sense of support and understanding
  • By connecting with others' in their communities, pets gain a socialization benefit as well

Solution Weaknesses:

  • Advice provided by the mentor may not work which can result in the user having to “trial-and-error” different methods to correct a behavior
  • Users may not always find other pets with similar personalities in close proximity
  • Pet owners may need incentive to invest their time on mentoring and guiding new, troubled parents
  • More pet owner focused, rather than pet focused

Idea 2: Pawxy

Pawxy is a subscription-based service for new pet owners that provides expert recommendations and pet products to address individual pet's needs. With Pawxy, users offer detailed information about their pets, including their known preferences and behaviors, before connecting with an expert. First-time pet owners can meet with vets to address their concerns and receive feedback on best practices for supporting their pet. Owners are then shipped a monthly personalized care kit with products to address and manage their pet’s behavioral issues, dietary preferences, and health concerns. Products can be customized to fit within a user’s budget while still addressing their primary concerns. As a pet’s behaviors change during the adjustment period and owners become more familiar with their pet’s quirks, owner’s can continually update the information provided on Pawxy. They will then receive new recommendations to support their unique pet’s needs. 

Solution Strengths:

  • Provides first-time pet owners with the necessary resources, products, and support needed for quality pet care
  • By generating personalized product recommendations, Poxy supports users in understanding their pet’s unique needs and managing their pet’s overall well-being
  • The presence of products and expert advice in one location reduces the burden and stress of this navigation process
  • The low-cost access to professional help and the ability to customize a budget for product recommendations make this service accessible to  diverse users

Solution Weaknesses:

  • Does not support users in creating a community with other pet owners with like-minded pets
  • Existing resources that provide pet owners with recommendations for pet care essentials, however many of them lack personalization and expert opinion

Based on the storyboards and identified strengths and weaknesses, we felt that Pawxy provided a more pet-centric solution that better supported owners in all aspects of pet care. We therefore chose to move forward with Pawxy.

Visual Style Guide

To create a visually balanced and consistent design for Pawxy, we used Pumpkin's existing design system. Since Pawxy is a byproduct of Pumpkin, it was necessary to follow the same UI design principles, ensuring the "design language" remains consistent.

High-Fidelity Prototype

We used Figma to convert our design sketches into a high-fidelity prototype using the Pumpkin visual design system.


To evaluate the efficacy of our design and identify any usability issues, we conducted think aloud task-based usability tests with 4 users.

Due to the constraints of the project, we opted to conduct a discount evaluation. Prior to our evaluation session, our team identified the two functional and nonfunctional requirements we would be evaluating.

We collected feedback through think-aloud task-based user feedback sessions in a semi-structured interview format to evaluate how our prototype satisfied these design requirements. Users were asked to a complete a set of three application-specific tasks while thinking aloud. Following the completion of these tasks, participants were asked both Likert scale and open-ended questions. With the think-aloud method, we hoped to identify challenges our users faced when navigating the application in real-time.

Design Recommendations

With the feedback we received from the evaluation session, we analyzed the data to evaluate how our application was able to meet our selected design requirements. From there, we were able to make design recommendations for improvements in future iterations of the application.

 Design Requirement #1: The eventual design should support pet owners in understanding and adapting to their pet’s unique needs.

  • Incorporate a tutorial or information video after or during onboarding that informs users how the personalized care package recommendations work and the importance of the journal for future package recommendations
  • Include information about the different experts, including credentials and background, to allow users to make a more informed choice when scheduling a consultation
  • Incentive journal entry creations within the application, for example by providing a reward or discount based on the number of entries completed

 Design Requirement #2: The eventual system should be engaging and intuitive for the end user. 

  • Incorporate a percentage label or a step count with the progress bar in the onboarding survey flow to ensure users know how many more questions they have left.
  • Redesign the user flow for “Scheduling a consult” by prioritizing the scheduling page. Instead of showing opening up to previous and past consultations, allow users to easily schedule a new audio consult after selecting the option. 
Lessons Learned

As my first design-focused project at Georgia Tech, I found the process of designing challenging, but rewarding . Along the way, I learned a couple of key lessons.

Choosing a feasible scope - While initially we researched both the adoption and adjustment phase, we eventually chose to re-scope our problem space to prioritize the post-adoption adjustment phase. This ultimately allowed us to narrow our focus, and conduct more thorough research to address the stress that accompanies the adjustment phase.

Research a diverse sample - While we were able to gather data from pet owners through surveys and interviews, given the timeline, many of these users were grad students themselves. Interviewing and surveying a pool of users with greater diversity, in terms of income, occupation, education, etc. may lead to different insights. In the future, I would expand the pool to include more users with varying backgrounds.

Making evidence-based decisions - Throughout the project, there were several steps where we had to make a decision, on which solution to pursue, what features to include, and how to display that information. I learned the value of turning to our data and falling back on our insights to make user-centered decisions and produce a more desirable product.