Philip Sebastian
Google Design Challenge.png


Find a buddy based on your lifestyle


Find a pet based on your lifestyle. 

A new mobile experience to adopt a pet based on your lifestyle. Choose one or more questions and we'll do the rest. 

Only a demo.  😢



Design an experience that will help connect people with a pet which matches their lifestyle.

Initial Assumption

Adopting a pet may seem as easy as taking a photo and sharing it online (and sometimes it is) but how can you know which pet is truly suitable for you and your lifestyle? There are so many moving parts and when you're dealing with specific needs from people(or pets), and it can get very complex and overwhelming. 

My first impression was to build something lightweight and simple-- using an API to get all the data from pets, or assuming there was no resources my other solution was, we could introduce a new system and get specific information from taking a preliminary quiz or a test, analyze that data and/or add an AI algorithm to learn patterns(?). Okay, as you can see, my mind starts to drift and I had many ideas going through my head in the begging but as always, things always take a different path when you talk to your audience and you start learning more about the market. With that in mind, lets jump right into it and see what we can learn.



Start Talking to People

Who are they and what are they like? Observe. Repeat overtime and measure the results.

Lets start by talking to our audience and define what their goals and motivations are. Find out where they hang out and listen! I've worked across the country and back and I'm stunned by how many designers get lost in this area and/or they lack common courtesy. Be kind and show gratitude when you talk to anyone for information (or in general). Everything starts from you in order to get the results you need. 

At Apple we usually bring people onsite to test or interview for a new product or feature but I prefer talking to people in their own environment at least once if I get the opportunity.

However in this situation, I started with a list of nearby shelters and called them myself.  The first person was Jason. 

I politely introduced myself and asked him a few questions. I listened, took notes, and quickly discovered more problems:

• Most of the pets come from the streets with no paper work so that could be a problem in terms of creating a system that generates match results. In my case, I began to ask myself:

How am I suppose to match pets with people based on their lifestyle if I had limited resources or data?

How can I match pets or which tool should I explore to fix this problem?

After a few minutes of his time, I moved on to the next interview(s) to collect more information and compare. 

Once we understand what the problem is, I put together a list of assumptions, I created 1-3 provisional personas and compared that later with our assumptions or feedback to make sure we are on the right path.


Below are some rough sketches of my notes and doodles. They are not in order or pretty (yet) but I just wanna share my process from end-to-end. 🙂

Below are some rough sketches of my notes and doodles. They are not in order or pretty (yet) but I just wanna share my process from end-to-end.  🙂

Defining our audience

After Identifying who they are, understanding their frustrations and motivations, I typically share this information with the team and measure the strengths and weakness.


Persona Data Analysis

What did I learn based on my initial assumptions?

Several interesting patterns came up and I wrote it all down:

  • Approximately 80% use their phone to find pets or search related topics (as shown in right Piechart)

  • 22% of people are disabled or handicapped so its important to keep that in mind

  • Over 90% of shelters/foster homes only do in person interviews to verify you

  • Over 50% of the animals in shelters come from the streets so this can be a problem if we need their data to match our users based on their lifestyle  (as shown in left Piechart)

  • Existing competitors are not fun to use and the information can be overwhelming for 46%

  • Adoption forms are "a pain" and inconsistent

  • Every shelter in every state have their own policy

    • Suggestion: Enabling the users location can help filter out this problem 

  • 36% of new families get rejected if they have newborn babies

    • Asking users this question in our on-boarding process can help us fix this problem early-on

  • The process of adoption can be overwhelming sometimes

Compatative Image

Competitive Analysis

What can we learn from what has already been done (or not)? Don't reinvent the wheel or make the same mistakes. 

As part of my user research, I quickly look for a wide range of competitors or products that are in the same space and list them down so I can compare strengths and weaknesses. I also research the leadership behind these products.  

Who is head of product and what is their background? How long have they been operating? Learn from their mistakes and highlight my advantages and disadvantages and see where I can execute better from a high level business owner. This mindset has been useful for me over time and it has helped me align my business goals with the core product and reinforces my intention and purpose behind my design thinking. This was something I learned when I built Motown Music and I also learned this type of mentality through some of my close mentors at YCombinator.




Competitor Usability Testing


Based on user feedback:



  • Messaging Competitors don't have a consistent communication system and this is a problem for users when the need to contact clinics regarding adoption clinics. 

    • This feature is frequently used and could be improved.

  • Website 63% of new users find their sites confusing, overwhelming or visually inconsistent with the mobile app

    • User Experience could be better across all platforms and readability could be greatly improved with more explicit content and better UX

  • Gimmicky the user experience comes-off as too playful, too easy, or it resembles tinder too much

    • Tinders-swipe interaction feature works well (this is  debatable but its my strong opinion) because its easy and it fixes a specific problem! All problems are different on every product and it does not mean it will always work. Hence why these apps are not growing anymore and some will eventually fade away.


Identifying the Experiences

After extensive research, comparing multiple resources, validating my assumptions and identifying our target audience, I'm now able to identify who my main users: 

• Age 18-45
• Mostly city residents

• Mobile phones are significantly preferred
• Singles or no children preferred

Sketch Phase

I start putting together a set of sketches on paper (or whiteboard). I like to always focus on the user flow first, this allows me to see how the user is going to navigate through the product from a high level. This helps me to ensure that the product consists of a efficient directional-path so that users know exactly where they are in every situation—taking this approach also enables me to iterate through concepts a lot faster.


Frequent changes within the UX flow can leave users feeling lost and will leave users with a negative experience—in extreme cases it can hinder trust and brand reputation, which for a new product is not ideal.

I like to use this analogy sometimes:

"If someone was coming to your house for the first time and you were giving a tour, would you want to unintentionally show them the bathroom first by mistake? — No."

Building a great product UX is very similar. You want to make sure that every interaction and checkpoint in your user journey is well thought out, provides value and has a purpose. This creates positivity for the user, builds trust and makes them feel like they’re doing things right — no one likes feeling lost.

Sketching my flows and wireframes in a low-fidelity form is one of my favorite parts of my design process. I’m quickly able to see things coming together, I’m able to iterate continuously until I’m happy with my direction. 


I feel that sketching and ideating is such a crucial part of a designers arsenal, especially when working in a team. Being able to throw ideas down, discuss them and take them further is a great way to enforce collaboration within my designs, and allows points from both stakeholders and fellow colleagues to be considered—after all teamwork makes the dream work. 🗒️


Basic Wireframes

Lightweight and simple


User Flows

How will the experience unfold overtime?

A task flow helps me design an experience that flows smoothly even through the transition points. I consider what comes next (or prior) while mainly keeping it lightweight. 


On-boarding Flow

After analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the product structure, I stripped down the product to its core, highlighting the primary features and removed unnecessary or unwanted features I didn’t feel aligned with my constraints. 

While carefully considering the users feedback, I highlighted the top 3 frustrations and added them to the on boarding:

1. Each shelter in every state have their own policy and restrictions.

By enabling the users location (1) we can see the restrictions from each state, and also eliminate ‘dead’ results or data that should not be displayed if the animal cannot be identified or is unlisted.

2. Adoption forms are inconsistent and they have hidden fees.

By making this process easier and having people fill out the adoption forms beforehand (6). This action is not only helpful for them but it also provides us with more information in our database and it will increase-- pet search results by 30% while at the same time it creates more transparency and builds trust with our users over time.

3. User Interface: Users do not want use other services because they are unreliable, they have misleading data and they lack visual design appeal.

I asked the users if they can describe in one word the feel and based on their response I kept the user experience: “Important, reliable, and fun”.

Onboarding Mocks.png

Task Flow

Assuming the user has already Logged In or Signed Up in the app

1. Enabling Location Service— Help us narrow which pet shelters or nearby foster homes are nearby and it helps us understand more about the user and identify specific restrictions in each state. 

2. Profile picture Overview information about the product and describes why these features are important.

3. Choose your life style In order to help each user find the right pet for their lifestyle, I consolidated a list of specific questions and incorporated them as part of the on boarding process and increase results.

4. Final Step Screen After you you have gone through the short walkthrough screens, you also have the option to fill out the adoption paper work and get verified all in one notion.   

5. Opt out or skip Depending on the user, they can always come back to this step. 

6. Wizard screen Showing your users a simple step-by-step process can increase form submissions. 

7. Confirmation Screen— This notifies the user the process went through.


Visual Design

What does the user feel when interacting with the design? Or is the type both readable and easy to read?

There are several ways to do this process but this has been the most effective way for me over the years.

First I try to imagine how the user will be interacting with the final product, I create a mood board and several mockup version that mimics how these interactions will work.  

Mood board


V1 Color.png

Final Thoughts and Takeaway

I really enjoyed exploring this market but I have to be honest and say, creating an app to help people find pets based on their lifestyle was much more challenging than I expected and the more I talked to pet shelters or potential users, the more problems came up.  

Nonetheless I think this was a good eye-opener and I learned a lot about the adoption process, the complexity around gathering data so can connect people with pets and so on, but in short, I believe this is a real issue that not a lot of existing services have figured-out yet and it was very interesting to see what you can discover along the way in such short time. 

In my eyes a great product is never finished and Im already thinking of so many different ways I could solve this problem.

This is the end. Thank you for your time. 🙂