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Improving dog adoptions one paw at a time.


Raise A Paw is an IOS app that increases satisfaction in the dog adoption process by guiding users towards dogs they are eligible for. 

Role: UX Designer

Duration: 10 weeks

Tools: Figma, InVision, Principle, Whimsical 

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With the new work-from-home norm, rescue groups across Canada saw a surge in demand for pandemic pets however, finding the best suited match is challenging for both shelters and adopters. There is no system that effectively matches a dog’s needs with an adopter’s ability and there is a lack of trust amongst adopters in the ethics of existing adoption websites. 

How Might We...

develop a transparent and ethically driven digital solution for potential dog adopters in order to optimize successful adoption processes.



Currently there are high levels of dissatisfaction and skepticism in the ethics of adoption shelters amongst potential dog adopters. 

Increasing user trust by designing a mobile app that equally prioritizes the needs of the dog and the wants of the owner. 

Only have a few minutes?

Listen to a brief overview of my design solution and process.

Storytelling is a major part of my design process as I seek to understand the key pain points and motivations driving user behaviours. This allows me to develop salient pain relievers the align with business goals.


Exploring the Problem Space

To find areas of improvement, I sought to understand the experiences of potential dog adopters in Ontario (their behaviours, motivations, pain points).

  1. Why people adopt dogs?

  2. How people are searching for adoptable dogs?

  3. The lived experiences of dog adoption processes and applications.

Secondary Research:


What & Why:

Surge in Demand:

There has been a national spike in foster and dog adoption applications; some shelters have experienced six times above their norm.

Decrease in Access:

Availability of adoptable dogs has been trending downwards over the past 10 years and COVID-19 restrictions impacted this further,

Who is Adopting: Intrinsically motivated, young women seeking to “rescue dogs.” 

Primary Research:

Conducted 1 on 1 remote (online) interviews over Zoom with 8 participants living in Ontario who had looked into adopting a dog within the past 3 year. 

Why: Ethics drive individuals decisions to adopt dogs.

Pain Point: 6 out of 8 interviewees do not trust existing adoption solutions: believing they are opportunistic and lack ethical focus.


Want: A more transparent adoption process that prioritizes the successful adoption of dogs by suitable owners.


Throughout the user interviews, I took notes from each sessions to identify user motivations, pain points, behaviours and general themes. The following findings emerged from the interview process.  


Lacking trust in the dog adoption process (misinformation and monetization).


Best Match

Ensuring adoptions are right for both the adopters and the dog is equally important.



Sending multiple applications, requiring the same forms to be completed over and over.

Participants expressed a want for a more transparent adoption process that's ultimate goal was to prioritize the successful adoption of dogs by suitable owners.

Interviewing was one of my favourite aspects of this project.


I used the information gathered from conversations and preliminary research to guide the eventual design solution. This "natural" approach to the research allowed for honest, vulnerable conversations which validated a solution for a potentially saturated space. 

If you would like to learn more about my research methodology, please reach out! 

Persona Development

User Persona:

After synthesizing insights from the interview data, a persona was generated by incorporating the goals, behaviours, and frustrations revealed during the interview process.


Experience Map:

To help recognize dog adopters pain points and identify opportunities for design intervention, an experience map was developed. In this map, Rachel will be searching for a dog to adopt.


Development Process:

User Stories & Epics:

Core Epic: Adoption Results

Task: As a person wanting to adopt a dog, I want to be shown my best available matches so that I feel confident in submitting an application and know I am an eligible candidate.

Task Flow Diagram:

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3 rounds of paper sketching were conducted to ideate the digital solution. After conceptualizing the design, the best concepts were drawn into further detail, and made into low-fidelity wireframes.

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Low-Fidelity Wireframes

Two rounds of user testing with 5 participants each round were conducted during concept development of the app. Each round of feedback influenced iterations made to the prototypes and was rationalized with a prioritization matrix. 

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Round 1: 


  • Want filtering feature to rearrange the results of "Best Match"

  • Want a more engaging and personalized experience to find their “Best Match


  • "Best Match" feature and "Adoptable List" page are locations users will spend the most amount of time:

    • "Best Match" iterated to gamified version;

    • Filters added to "Adoptable List" page;

    • Created a "Set Up My Profile" section.

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Round 2: 


  • Like the "Best Match" feature and filtering system

  • Add progress bar & back buttons in "Best Match" 

  • Make filters collapsible


  • Added progress bar for Best Match;

  • Added back buttons for Best Match;

  • Added a collapsible feature for filters; and

  • Added social media links for shelter page.

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Following an agile approach, the app was moved to high-fidelity as other feedback could be implemented at a later stage of development. 


Visual Identity 

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Raise A Paw evokes the feeling of a sunny, summer day spent outside with a new puppy.

Fun, pure, playful, enthusiastic, bright, honest, and cheerful. 

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iOS App

Improving dog adoptions one paw at a time. 

Raise A Paw was developed into high-fidelity prototypes that focus on increasing communication and transparency in the dog adoption process. 

Key Learnings:

Next Steps:


Deciding upon a brand identity and eliciting a sense of honesty within the brand while also making it fun and cheerful. I found that as I sought out differing colour palettes, it was challenging to find the intended balance that didn't follow competitor colour schemes. 


Luckily I was able to seek guidance and advice from a graphic designer and proposed two option to hear their feed, resulting in the existing brand.  

It is also integral that Raise A Paw maintains user trust as this is the driving competitive advantage. To ensure this is maintained, all adoptable dogs will be from partnering shelters to ensure legitimacy and credibility, and the Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policies will be laid out in layman's terms.

If I were to continue work on Raise A Paw, the next objective would be to gather feedback and insights from dog adoption shelters. Ensuring the platform would be adopted by shelters and collects the necessary information for dog applications would be integral to the success of this project. 


I love connecting with lifelong learners seeking to create positive change. If that's you and you'd like to discuss an opportunity, please reach out.

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