Emerald City Pet Rescue
Emerald City Pet Rescue (ECPR) is a non-profit dedicated to rescuing, nurturing, and rehabilitating homeless and neglected animals. My role in this class project was to improve the ECPR website experience to encourage visitors to use the site as an adoption and informational tool.
Paper prototype creation
Presentation to panel
Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized. ECPR needs to increase their pet adoption rate and site engagement. The ECPR website is the first touch point for new visitors to learn more about pet adoption and rescue and a primary resource for existing customers to stay updated on latest developments and updates. It’s therefore important that the information presented is clearly defined and that the online pet foster/adoption process is user-friendly.
Over the course of five weeks, I conducted surveys, user interviews and testing, and competitive analysis; created a user task flow; and created a final presentation. Through user interviews and testing, I identified that users struggled with navigating the website and were confused by information placement. In addition, the pet imagery was not engaging. Some users felt that the pet adoption profile pages were clunky and the adoption processes weren’t clearly defined. It was also discovered that the selection of a dog or cat breed, pet personality, and background were key characteristics in selecting a pet.
Once I created a user task flow, I could evaluate the key tasks and explore the logic of the customer’s journey through the online adoption process. Although the steps were logical, there were a few pain points discovered, which included no current filtering process for pet searching, a feeling of disconnect with additional pet adoption inquiries, and a lack of pet education for potential adopters
To help identify how ECPR could improve in these areas, I researched the search filter functionalities and foster/adoption process of competitors like Petco.com and Pet Finder to explore how they address the same online adoption processes users struggled with on the ECPR website.
Although many of the current process were very fine-tuned, they still had room for improvement. This all helped come to some general bases for determining what the user might need to return to the site
Through this process, I identified many many opportunities to improve the ECPR website. Because of time constraints, I focused on three key areas that rose to the top during user testing that would have immediate impact on ECPR’s success: improving the website's informational architecture, adding search filter functionality, and improving the online foster/adoption process and pet ownership, care, and breed education. I started by developing wireframes to create a cohesive search and foster/adoption flow.
After conducting user testing, I discovered that I needed additional screen states that could help smooth out the process. It also was discovered that an additional pet inquiry page was needed, as well as an inquiry confirmation page.
I made improvements to the site's information architecture to make it easier for users to find what they need quickly and easily. The improvements also allow users to achieve their objectives. Important informational sections like Donate, Volunteer, and Blog must be clearly defined to help ECPR achieve their goal of increasing pet adoption and awareness.
Search filter functionality was added, prioritized, and displayed prominently. This improvement will help users search and narrow their needs. The functionality is important because it helps engage users and guide the users' information needs. A grid system with more engaging images has been used for search results to help the user quickly choose between pets.
Personal pet profiles have been updated to help highlight each pet’s characteristics, needs, and background. Breed information is also provided to help educate the user before adopting or fostering a particular pet.
With the rising number of of pets needing homes and shelters becoming overcrowded, it is important that users are made aware of the problem, educated on ways to help improve the situation, educated on the responsibilities of pet ownership, and provided with tools to select the right pet. This process should be streamlined, personal, and educational. Implementing this into ECPR's website would help their adoption rates rise by matching the right pet with the right pet owner, increase their volunteer pool and donations, and make the overall experience a positive one.
I recommend that ECPR create and update their visual assets, including their pet photos. This will allow users to have visual cues and see calls to action. Improving their website content hierarchy would also enhance site usability. Creating more detailed pet profiles would give users more information about a potential pet. Also, keeping information about the pet updated on the website is of vital importance. It is also important that they streamline the onboarding application process to not overwhelm or discourage the user.