Who doesn't love pets? But wait a minute, why there are still over 72% of animals at shelters waiting for adoption, and the euthanasia rate for shelter animals is over 44% each year? Besides possible under-advertising factor,  through my initial research, I found two major pain points that are holding adopters back from successful adoptions -

  1. Over 85% of the adopters who didn't know the adoption process in advance had very bad, back-and-forth experience, due to the tedious adoption process. 
  2. More than 50% of the adopters I interviewed never really thought about the long-term time and financial commitment until they ran into those obligations with their adopted pets. As a result, some of them had to give their pets to other people or return them to shelters.

My role in this project - UX/UI designer, UX researcher





introducing google pets






Generative Research


Before I dived deep into the iterative design process, I started with interviewing potential users with questions like how do they search for a pet, what do they care most in a pet, in order to understand potential users' behavior patterns and their pain points. Followed by the interviews, I brainstormed with interviewees to identify every user type and worked out an empathy map.

Based on my qualitative research findings, I sent out a Google survey to gain more insights about what users care, and what are the pros and cons among existing competitive apps.




Design Goal


Based on these research findings, my design goal here is to help adopters find the right companion pet, and help a pet to be matched to a responsible and caring adopter without too much back-and-forth tossing during the adoption process. By leveraging existing Google technologies such as Google Hangouts, Google Calendar and Google Daydream/Cardboard, I aim to make adopters well informed about the pets they found online, and help adopters get well prepared about adoption criteria before they head off to shelters to meet their potential pets and finish the adoption process.





Competitive Analysis





User Types for Google peTS







User Needs Based on User Types





For this minimum viable product of Google Pets, from the above 10 user types, I choose 3 typical user types and their user needs to guide my interaction design. Those 3 user types are adopter A, who is a first-time shelter adopter with previous pet raising experience for the same species, shelter manager, and pet who can interact with digital devices with certain help from the shelter manager. As a result, the user needs I need to consolidate in my MVP design are listed below.

For the adopter A user type, below are the specific user needs - 

  • To search for a pet that the adopter likes -
    • Pet's breed, gender, age, temperament, and health status
    • Will the pet get along well with kids, family, other pets in household?
    • Required home preparation?
    • Pet’s story / images / videos
    • The long-term time & financial requirement required by the specific pet (companion time, initial payment, financial investment for accessories and therapies) 
  • To know the adoption process -
    • Adoption process & what’s next
    • Shelter/rescue’s criteria for adopter
    • Contacts for Shelters/rescues
    • Adoption required paper work
    • Local veterinarian contacts for a health screening
    • Steps to exchange the pet at shelter if the pet doesn’t work out

For the shelter manager user type, below are the specific user needs - 

  • To understand what the adopters want
    • Adopter’s expectation - Adopter’s time/financial commitment
    • Adopter’s lifestyle - Adopter meets criteria?
    • Adopter willing to prepare for a suitable home environment?
  • To spread the available pets’ information to the public
    • What information of the pet to post to Google Pets?
    • Steps to curate great photos/videos
  • To help adopter get in touch with the pet
    • Steps to arrange online/offline meetings for adopters and pets
    • Will the pet get well with the person (and his/her family, kids, other pets)?





User Flow for google pets mvp



Adopter A's User Flow





Shelter Manager's User Flow






One Success Flow - A Golden Use Case






zoom-in Wireframes





Design Decisions


  • "Pet's Name" is moved to the lower bottom of the header image, because during my user testing, the dark mask at bottom appeared to make the white font of "Pet's name" more legible.
  • "Appointment" is changed to a single navigation tag on the pet's page, since appointments are always associated with different pets when an adopter is using this app. Previously, "Appointment" was combined with video chat tag and designed under Messenger Page, not in Pet's Page.
  • The order of the 4 sub navigation tags on this page is changed according to the frequency of use.



  • During my usability testing, the original 7-step adoption guide was too overwhelming to users. As a result, I hide the last two steps in the very beginning, since those two steps are post-adoption steps.
  • And I only show those two last steps after the adopter successfully takes a pet home, either by the adopter's operation or by the activation from the shelter manager side of Google Pets.



  • I removed the "Appointment" tag from Messenger Page to the specific Pet's Page, since this resonates with user's logic.





Visual Mockups






Future steps

I've tested the design with users and got many great feedbacks that helped me iterate my design. However, I believe there are more assumptions to be tested and more possibilities to be explored.

For example, Google Pets needs to be further tested to see how difficult it is to cooperate and leverage existing online shelter data source, such as, in order to reduce the workload on the shelter manager side, since shelters all have one thing in common: zero time on their hands. And I also need to test this idea with more shelter managers to see whether the virtual reality feature or the video chatting feature can really reduce their burden of hosting indeterminate adopters.