*This project was done to fulfill requirements for Dribbble's Product Design Certification Course

Role: Product designer
Responsibilities: Research, User Experience, Visual Design, Prototyping

Outcome
A Dog walking app that establishes trust for both the dog walker and owner while making booking and communication easy and approachable.

Problem Statement
Dog owners who work a lot, commute long distances, don’t have flexible schedules or who have a disability may have trouble taking care of their dog’s basic needs during the day. These owners may not have friends or family who are local and able to walk their dog. This app addresses this problem by helping owners find someone trustworthy to take care of their dog.

Audience
People short on time or disabled with pets

Approach

User Research

I performed a virtual research test with a dog owner who's a teacher. I found that trust was a major factor for them in selecting someone to take care of their pet.

Dog Owners wanted to:
Be able to meet the walker beforehand
Have open lines of communication
Know that the walker has experience caring for animals. 
Have some way of tracking if the dog has gone to the bathroom, had water, etc
Market Research

I looked at two other apps in my market research: Rover & Wag!
Both are top rating apps with many features such as video meet-n-greets, in-app messaging, gps tracking, walk reports, different levels of walks, training, and vet chat.

I found that there was still some lack of trust in users. Dog owners wanted proof during a drop-in visit that their pet had actually been cared for. Dog walkers wanted to be able to see reviews for dogs and dog owners so they know what they're getting into and know it's not a spam account.
Persona

Lynn is a teacher who can't get away in the middle of the day to take care of her puppy, Copper. She wants to be able to meet her walker ahead of time to make sure she likes them. She also wants updates during and after the walk about how Copper did and if he will have any basic needs when she gets home.
Exploration (User flow, sketching & wire framing)

When creating the user flow I wanted to gather as much information as possible without overwhelming the user during the onboarding process. I also wanted to get most details out of the way, so they can navigate without interruption later.

The following features were identified as paramount for creating trust between the two parties:
- Ability to create and review robust profiles
- In-app messaging
- Ability to schedule a meet and greet
- Ability to be matched to dog walkers who met their search criteria
- Ability to have more options to control and fine tune their search criteria
Delivery (visual and final design)

Throughout revisions I added more information needed for the owner’s profile (during onboarding), giving the walkers more information they might want when selecting clients.

The goal in visual identity was creating an approachable but trustworthy app. I focused on soft edges, as well as welcoming and warm colors.
Prototyping

User testing found the app to be simple and easy to follow. Requested information was deemed necessary and aided in ensuring the wellbeing of their pet.

Most users wanted to "be matched" to their dog walker which I currently do not have a flow for.

Some icons were initially confusing based on size (hearts when browsing walkers) since they were very similar to the badges next to them. In other iterations I increased the size to help with interactions as well as visuals.

To run through the prototype:
Key takeaways

People want to see reviews, training, achievements, prior experience, and other qualifications to determine if the dog walker was trustworthy and competent.
People like the simplicity of being matched to a dog walker to save on time.
Having a meet and greet feature and in-app messaging allows the dog owner to vet the potential dog walker and make sure both parties are in agreement.


Next steps

My current user flow involves onboarding, browsing dog walkers, and messaging a walker. Most of my users opted for being "matched" with their walker, so my next goal would be to build out those wireframes and visuals.

Once trust is built between dog owners and walkers, I would also explore adding more features during the actual walk, such as providing the dog’s current location, periodic updates, medical alerts, and any relevant feedback on potential behavioral issues.
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