Shelter Helper was my first dive into the world of mobile application design. Shelter Helper’s purpose was simple: help connect potential adopters with compatible dogs, available for adoption at The Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter. I wanted the app’s flow to be both fluid and straight forward. I focused on providing the user a seamless experience, providing only necessary information and navigation. I wanted the app not to dominate the adoption process, but to simply serve as a tool to help the users interested in adoption connect with their new best friend.
While scrolling through available dogs, users are able to “favorite” dogs - a bookmarking-like behavior most users are familiar with from social networking. This keeps a record of the user’s favorite dogs, and sends them updates on things such as changes in availability. When launching, Shelter Helper users are first encouraged to set up a simple profile, outlining their living habits, dog experience, and animals they currently own, helping the app align users with compatible dogs. Once the app understands the adopter’s needs, it can then generate a list of compatible dogs currently available for adoption at The Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter.
I also designed the user experience to not discriminate against casual users who prefer to not set up a full profile. Casual users can still view available dogs, and utilize the majority of the app’s features. Every user launching the app, logged in or not, can fine-tune their search criteria by dog size, age, and gender. As a result on this user nondiscrimination, casual users may later be drawn into creating a full profile to take advantage of perks like favoriting dogs and receiving notifications when new compatible dogs arrive at the shelter. In my design, I also kept in mind that much of the non-profit’s inner workings are powered by volunteers, so I gave interested users the ability to learn more about volunteer opportunities directly from the main navigation.
Also within the main navigation, I added an “Adoption Process” section. Here users will find FAQs on subjects such as pricing information, adoption qualifications, etc. With this feature, I sought to educate potential adopters and limit the number of emails regarding general questions that the shelter receives. As a whole, I believe Shelter Helper is a vital tool filling space between a user’s initial interest in adoption and their first visit to the shelter, which will ultimately lead to more of the dogs at The Cuyahoga Country Animal Shelter finding “forever homes”!