Amigos: Easy, Worry-Free Pet Sitting
Amigos: Easy, Worry-Free Pet Sitting UX Design Case Study

Amigos: Easy, Worry-Free Pet Sitting

UX / UI Design Case Study

The lack of quality, affordable pet sitting options is a problem. Most pet owners—including me—see our pets as “family members” and “best friends”. But our pets also require regular care and attention, like children. And this can make traveling away from home quite stressful. According to one study, more than a third of pet owners—39%—have canceled or postponed travel plans because they couldn’t find a trustworthy pet sitter to care for their pets. Many businesses offer professional pet sitting services, but those can be expensive, especially for low-income consumers. Currently, no digital platforms provide pet sitting tools to pet owners and non-professional pet sitters. In August 2018, during the full-time UX/UI design course I was taking at IronHack, I designed a solution to address the problem.o

App Notification on iPhone Lock Screen

My Role

UX / UI Designer

Platform: iOS

2-week Sprint (8/18)

  • User research
  • UX design
  • Prototyping
  • User testing
Upcoming Trips Screen

The Pain Points of Pet Sitting

  • Pet owners feel uncomfortable asking friends, neighbors, and family for help because it seems like a "big" favor.
  • Writing instructions for pet sitters takes a lot of time and attention to detail.
  • Since writing instructions takes so much time and attention, many pet owners forget key details.
  • When they're away from home, pet owners rarely get as many updates as they want.

How Amigos Can Help

Guided Pet Sitting Instructions

Guided Instructions

Guided instructions help pet owners save time and communicate more effectively. 

Real-Time Notifications

Real-time notifications provide pet owners with the updates they crave, like when sitters arrive, leave, give food and medication, and take their dogs on walks.

Real-time notifications
Photo and Video Messaging

Photo and Video MessagING

Photos and videos allow pet owners to see how their pets are doing when they’re gone.

User-Centered Approach

Diagram of 5 Stages of Design thinking with examples of UX deliverables

I used a lean, user-centered approach and focused on users and their needs at each stage of the process. This saved time and helped me prioritize the user experience over “perfect” designs.  

Empathizing with Pet Owners

After a few negative pet sitting experiences of my own, I was curious.

Did other pet owners worry how much time and attention their pets received? What were their frustrations, and how did they manage them?

Focusing on users’ experiences helped me empathize with their problems and deepen my understanding of their needs.

Qualitative Interviews

To begin my learning process, I conducted six qualitative interviews with pet owners. I recruited my friends and neighbors in South Florida, and interviews lasted 45 to 90 minutes.

In-Home Qualitative User Interview Photo

Home Interviews = More, Better Data

I conducted four of the six interviews in pet owners’ homes. This allowed me to ask participants to re-enact pet sitter “walkthrough” meetings and interview family members.

Due to time constraints, two interviews were conducted in coffee shops.

The day or two before a trip often feel chaotic and rushed. People are in a rush to finish packing, shopping, and preparing to leave.

Pet owners like to meet face-to-face with new sitters to show them the ropes. Unfortunately, they often schedule it for the disorganized days right before they leave.

When they’re away, pet owners want to know how their pets are doing, but they don’t want to be a pest, so they rarely ask for updates. 

After returning home, pet owners notice clues around the house that help them figure out what happened when they were away.

Online SURVEYS

After the qualitative interviews, I still had questions, so I conducted a brief online survey with 114 pet owners from the Survey Monkey panel.

23%

Used a non-professional pet sitter in the last 2 years.

69%

Stopped using a non-professional pet sitter due to concerns about poor care.

Competitive Analysis

To learn about current solutions on the market, I conducted a brief competititive analysis of the most popular pet sitting apps. 

  • Competitors universally position themselves as brokers between pet owners and pet care professionals.
  • All offer the ability to find and hire professional sitters, with pet sitting as one service option among  others.
  • No competitors provide pet sitting communication tools to pet owners who already know their sitters.
  • Rover is the most popular and highest-rated product in the space. It also offers the richest communication features for pet owners.

Defining the Problem and Solution

Problem Statement and Hypothesis

Before I could design a solution, I needed to define the problem. Stating my assumptions about target users helped me narrow my list of possibilities. 

Likewise, stating a hypothesis helped me create metrics to assess the project’s success. 

User Persona

Creating a persona helped me define users’ needs, goals, and frustrations. I named the persona “Catch-22 Cathy” because she craves information to alleviate her worries, but she feels uncomfortable asking. 

User Persona for UX Design

User Journey Map

I created a journey map to visualize Cathy’s needs, goals, and pain points. This also helped me identify opportunities my design could solve.

User Journey Map

Generating Ideas

Next, I used Post-It notes and RealTimeBoard to start thinking of ways to solve Cathy’s problems and satisfy her unmet needs.

Amigos_How Might We Mind Map
Brainstorming with post-it notes

 Defining the MVP

To define an initial feature set for the MVP, I used the MOSCOW method. Due to time and resource constraints, I decided to focus on the pet owner UI only. The pet sitter UI would need to wait.

MOSCOW Method Feature Priorotization

Site Map

Next, I created a site map outlining the app’s information architecture and main navigation.

Amigos Site Map

Rapid Prototyping and User Testing

For rapid prototyping and testing, I used Marvel and the UserBob remote unmoderated testing platform

Why remote testing?

  • It’s fast. With UserBob, tests were often done in one or two hours.
  • It’s cheap. At $1 per minute, a 10-minute test with 5 participants costs just $50.
  • Video screen recordings make rich data. With video, I could re-watch tests and find issues I may have otherwise missed.

But UserBob has some notable downsides:

  • I couldn’t probe or offer assistance when participants needed it.
  • Unlike some other testing platforms, UserBob doesn’t highlight areas where users tap or swipe, and even if you ask participants to narrate their actions, they often forget. 

Low-Fidelity Wireframes

I sketched concepts of the main screens by hand to create low-fidelity wireframes. 

Mid-Fidelity Wireframes

After testing the low-fidelity prototype, I created mid-fidelity wireframes in Sketch, integrating insights from my earlier round of testing.

Usability Testing Results: Low-Fidelity Prototype

I wanted to know if users could understand and use the low-fidelity prototype, so I tested it with 5 people on UserBob.

Mood Board

After testing the mid-fidelity prototype, I began designing the brand identity and user interface.

I realized both pet owners and pet sitters share a core motivation: to help their friends, regardless of whether those friends are human or non-human. “Amigos” seemed like a cute play on that theme.

I wanted the user interface to inspire trust and confidence in pet owners who may be feeling anxious, so I tried to make the color palette feel energetic and friendly.

I placed an origami bird in the logo to evoke ideas of friendship and communication:

  • Origami birds are small tokens of friendship between friends
  • In the past, people used birds used to carry important messages.

To validate the mood board, I conducted 20 remote, unmoderated desirability tests with adults who owned smartphones. Users said the mood board evoked feelings of friendship and care, and the list made them think of organization.

Style Tile / Atomic Design System

I didn’t want to design the entire UI before getting any user feedback, so I designed a style tile made from UI components, then tested that, which helped me validate the visual direction I was taking.

Style Tile Atomic Design System

To validate the style tile, I conducted 20 remote, unmoderated desireability tests with adults who owned smartphones. Users said the UI elements were easy to read and looked and attractive, though a few said it was too generic or ordinary. 

High-Fidelity Wireframes

I created high-fidelity wireframes by updating the mid-fidelity wireframes with elements from the style tile. 

Usability Testing Results: Mid-Fidelity Prototype

I wanted to understand if users could successfully interact with the mid-fidelity prototype, so I tested it on UserBob with 5 men and women.

In order to verify that my design changes had a positive impact on the prototypes, I tested the high-fidelity prototype a third time with 5 adults.

Below you can compare my low-fidelity usability testing results to my high-fidelity usability testing results. 

Explore the High-Fidelity Prototype

All Case Studies           Amigos: Easy, Worry-Free Pet Sitting           Finito: Simple Goal Setting and Tracking