A laptop screen featuring a mockup of the webpage for city pups.

City Pups — Design Sprint

Case Study

A five-day design sprint addressing user-experience issues for a city-based dog adoption service.


Figma, Marvel, Webflow, Illustrator, Haiku Animator


5 Days

Key Skills

UX design, ideation, sketching, experience mapping, journey mapping, UI design, prototyping, usability testing

View the deck
An animated illustration of a wagging dog

Day 01 — Understanding & Mapping


City Pups is a dog adoption platform specifically designed for the needs and considerations of city-dwelling users. These users present unique challenges related to urban living, and as such, City Pups has a responsibility to consider the challenges that urban environments present to dog adoption and ownership.

Research conducted by City Pups has determined that when adopting a dog, city-dwelling users are particularly concerned with:

  • Breed, size, and age

  • An abundance of information including history and health

  • Temperament, personality, socialization, or behavior

  • Compatibility with other pets and children

  • Energy levels, or activity needs

  • Proximity to adopter


With an emphasis on helping users find the right dog to adopt, City Pups wants to increase the adoption rate using its platform, make users happier dog owners, and build better forever homes for dogs.


City Pups is not a physical adoption agency and instead aggregates adoption dogs from local organizations to showcase on its platform. As such, it is my task to identify pain points from the research that has been conducted, synthesize the findings to identify a clearer understanding of the problem(s) for users and create a workable solution to improve user experience on the City Pups platform.

Research Analysis

User Personas

Ellie is a 27-year-old user that is looking to adopt her new best friend. Ellie is confident that she is ready to adopt, and is always on the lookout for her dream dog.

For Ellie, it’s vitally important that the two of them will be good for each other, but she isn’t getting clear information about logistics, biographical information, or even the next steps to take. As a result, she doesn’t feel confident enough to follow through on the adoption process.

  • Ellie is looking to adopt her new best friend. She is ready to adopt immediately, is already looking, and is a thorough researcher

  • Ellie is not getting clear information about the adoption process from the services that she uses, and she has lost confidence in the process

  • Ellie wants to feel confident that she and her adopted dog will be a good match for each other

User Survey

To better understand the needs of users, City Pups asked 10 users what they consider when searching for a pet to adopt, the top priority is behavior or personality, and the top concern is the consistency of information provided by the adoption service.


To better understand more about the specific needs of users, City Pups interviewed 1 particular user to gain further insight into the current usability of the platform.

Pre-interview information provided:

  • User lives in Manhattan with their partner in a relatively small apartment

  • The adoption criteria that the user wants to prioritize is size and behavior

  • The concerns that the user has are compatibility, activity level, and behavior (barking)

Usability Testing


  • User loves narrative stories to describe the personalities of the pets

  • Videos stand out the most and help to ensure the legitimacy of the process

Pain Points

  • The proximity of the search feature does not go below a 25-mile radius. The user does not have a vehicle and cannot travel 25+ miles very easily in order to adopt.

  • The user is not provided with enough information on the backstory of the dogs. The user wants to know more about training and development as well as information about the dog's personality.

  • There is not enough information on the pet profile alone to make an educated decision.

Priorities & Considerations

  • Behavior and ability to be around children or other animals

  • Age and health

  • The user wants to know the actual size of the dog

Synthesizing Research

Possible Solutions

In the above experience map, I made the recommendation of adding an onboarding step that enables users to specify the criteria of their pet search. Using a series of questions, users would be able to identify their priorities, concerns, red flags, and more, providing a clearer picture of the needs of the user. Similarly, adoption agencies could be asked to provide a survey assessment of the dogs in their care. City pups would then use this aggregate information to create a compatibility ranking based on the information provided.

Day 02 — Sketching

Lightning Demo

Before iterating on the possible solution to City Pups' user-experience problem, I wanted to familiarize myself with platforms that incorporate compatibility surveys or recommender features in their onboarding, searching, filtering, or application processes. Because this is not an uncommon practice, I was able to find a variety of use-case examples from a diversity of platforms, demonstrating the practicality and ubiquity of such a feature.

A screenshot of the twitter onboarding process
Twitter encourages users to curate their feeds based on particular interests
A screenshot of the duolingo onboarding process.
Duolingo's onboarding process relies on a brief survey of priorities


These onboarding processes each solve a synonymous issue: the compatibility between new users and content. By encouraging users to take a brief moment to clarify their goals, they can better understand the needs, concerns, and priorities of their users.

By introducing an onboarding process to City Pups, users will be able to better explain their adoption needs before browsing, allowing City Pups to find compatible dogs. This process can also be applied to the search and filter sections.


In reviewing the eight drawings from the previous exercise, I made the decision to work with screen number 4 (above, right)- a reinterpretation of Tinder’s user interface, but with the inclusion of compatibility parameters that users outline during onboarding. 

This iteration synthesizes the information gleaned in user interviews allowing users to control search parameters while simultaneously providing pet profile information with the added influence of photos and videos. Additionally, this iteration has the potential to enable shelter aggregates to vet adopters using the profile information provided by users on sign-up, ensuring cross-compatibility between adopters and pets.

A zoomed in view of drawing four from the crazy eights design process

Day 03 — Decision Making

Journey Mapping

Before storyboarding, I prepared a journey map for the most critical components of the user journey from homepage to pet search.


The storyboard that I created for City Pups is a synthesis of the research results. First, new users are encouraged to create a profile that includes their specific criteria for adoption. The data that these users provide about their preferences and constraints allows City Pups to generate better matches between pets and users creating an individualized user experience that adapts to the needs of both the adopter and the adoptee. 

A hand drawn storyboard for city pups
User preferences and constraints are used to find better matches between adopters and adoptees

Day 04 — Prototyping

Design System

Using Figma, I was able to create an adaptive design with concentrated breakpoints that can be easily translated into a functional website. I created card components populated with buttons and forms that are styled by a design system that I built throughout the design process.

Custom cards, icons, logos, tags, and slider components were custom created and styled

Desktop Prototype

The City Pups prototype incorporates my earlier findings into a series of 10 screens focusing on critical parts of the sign-up to search process. Starting with the homepage, users are encouraged to create an account, create a user profile, outline their preferences and constraints, and finally browse for compatible dogs to adopt. 

Day 05 — Testing & Validation

Usability Testing

Due to the specific identity of City Pups as a dog adoption platform for city-based users, I wanted to recruit participants that had familiarity with the dog adoption processes in New York City. As a result of my recruitment criteria, illuminating patterns quickly emerged proving the efficient failure of the City Pups product.

Emerging Patterns

Pattern 1 — How is City Pups different?

Because City Pups is designed to focus primarily on the needs and concerns of city-based adopters, the presumption is that the platform would provide a necessary alternative to existing platforms that focus on a broader demographic of users. However, my usability testing would suggest that existing platforms like Petfinder already provide a competitive service for city-based users. Petfinder, for instance, allows users to filter search results based on a variety of preferential factors like breed, size, age, behavior, and compatibility with other dogs or children. If City Pups were to continue to concentrate on city-based users only, it would put them at a competitive disadvantage to platforms that provide a service to all users in this field.

Pattern 2 — How necessary are user profiles?

While identifying the factors that I felt would improve compatibility between adopters and adoptees, I made the decision to introduce a profile creation process for users to share their preferences and constraints. The idea was to create a system for users to filter results before searching for dogs to adopt. However, in usability testing, my participants struggled to understand why users needed to create a profile in the first place. Instead of having users add preferences on sign-up, these preferences could be instead added to the filters section of the search page, thus shortening the onboarding process. Furthermore, once a user successfully adopts a dog, there would be no need for them to maintain a profile on City Pups. As a result, the sign-up process adds an unnecessary step to the adoption process unless it was to be used as a measure for adoption agencies looking to vet suitable adopters based on profile.

Summary of findings

In each of my five usability tests, participants struggled to understand what it was that set City Pups apart from existing services like Petfinder.com. This is despite having explained to participants that City Pups’ focus is on city-based adopters. I believe that the reason for this is that there are no critical user-experience issues for city-based users with any of the existing platforms.

Short of creating an entirely new user interface, the City Pups product itself does not solve any inherent flaws or inadequacies with existing platforms. 

If the City Pups platform were to adapt, I could see the potential of including a profile creation process for adoption agencies. This system could ensure that pet information is adequate and organized.

A laptop screen featuring a mockup of the webpage for city pups.