Animal Shelter Foster Solutions

Stephanie got a crash course in using Jake Knapp’s 5-day Sprint model. All five days were squeezed into one weekend as a way of introducing students to the process. The result of this 2-day design sprint was a prototype of an app design. The idea was to help animal shelters connect to pet fosters during emergency weather or crisis.


1. Define the Problem (Assumptions and Research Validation)

The job was to design a system that would allow ordinary citizens to help in extraordinary ways during a natural disaster (such as Hurricane Harvey).

The Sprint questions were as follows:

What are the needs that are not usually met? Can we improve systems that already exist? Who are the people that need this? Who are the victims? What are the victims’ needs/what are the solutions they need? What are current solutions’ limitations and strengths? Obstacles to implementing a system?

 2. Card Sorting

Students spent an hour or so doing online research to answer the questions. Ideas/solutions/problems were written on sticky notes which were then sorted into categories (card sorting/affinity mapping).

Based on this exercise, the class sorted cards into an actual sentence statement that became the overarching Goal:

In order to improve and organize services, we will create systems for users to supply relief to victims of catastrophic disasters.

3. Goal Statement

Based on the overarching Goal, students selected the problem they wanted to solve for. Each student came up with a handful of problems and picked one to work on for class.

In order to reduce mortality rates due to disease after a natural disaster, I will create a system for improving supply distribution to help local charities supply medical supplies to low income areas via drones and floating shelters and volunteer networks.

Stephanie chose this goal: In order to reduce overcrowding of animal rescue shelters, I will create a system for organizing shelters to help each other supply foster homes to help owners who have surrendered their pets via social media/database.

In order to reduce the number of people who need rescue, I will create system for improving evacuation protocols to help individuals and first responders supply transportation to help evacuees via apps.

4. Crazy Eights

Students folded a paper into eight sections, and for 1 minute per section rapidly sketched out possible solutions (thus the name Crazy Eights!). Students presented ideas to the group and based on feedback, made a final decision about the system they wanted to create to address the problem.

5. Workflow

Students spent another hour or two sketching out workflow for their systems. This is the workflow for Stephanie’s Emergency Pet Foster App. Stephanie shifted somewhat from her original goal. She determined that the best way to reduce overcrowding in shelters was to pre-register foster families. Then Stephanie sought to create a communication system via an app that would help animal shelters filter incoming pets to these foster families.

Stephanie had 3 users in mind (Foster Families, Animal Shelters, and Pet Owners), and decided to focus on the Foster Family’s user experience: Signing up for app, agreeing to foster a certain number of pets, and responding to an emergency request for fostering.

6. Paper Prototype

Students sketched out paper prototypes for an initial user test. Sticky notes were used for pop-up screens.

7. User Testing, Round 1

Students paired up and tested each other’s paper prototypes. Each student had a list of tasks for their users, and a script that helped introduce and explain the process.

Stephanie’s tasks for User Testing were as follows: Register how many pets and what kind of pets you are willing to foster. How do you indicate to the shelter you will accept pets? How do you change how many pets you are willing to accept? How would you tell the shelter you are done accepting and cannot accept any more pets?

8. High Res Prototype

Based on feedback from the User Tests, students developed high resolution prototypes. Here are the screenshots for Stephanie’s app design. The focus was on workflow, not design or aesthetic. So please excuse the ugly!

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Interactive Prototype (InvisionApp)

Click here to explore the final prototype for this class!


This project was completed in partial fulfillment of the MFA Communication Design degree, Texas State University, ARTC 5360L, UX Design with Grayson Lawrence.