Pet Food Hero
Making pet food education available to everyone, so families can focus on what they do best: loving their pets.
There's a problem in the pet food industry, and pet owners need help.
Currently, in the United States, there is no requirement that pet food products have pre-market approval by the FDA. There could be almost ANYTHING in your pet's food. Most major pet food brands have meat scraps from the ‘4D animals’—dead, dying, diseased, or disabled- and once-trusted veterinarians (trained in medicine, not nutrition) don’t have reliable solutions for pet owners.
Where are pet parents supposed to find the necessary information to make informed dietary decisions for their furry family?
Most pet owners turn to their friends, family, and community for answers.
With increased interest in non-GMO, sustainable, nutritious, and organic food options, Pet Food Hero is the solution.
Lead and solo designer - discovery, user research, design, writing, prototyping, testing
1. To identify potential users and find solutions to improve the availability of information for consumers wanting to feed high-quality pet foods.
2. To expand the concept of the community concerning pet health and wellness solutions.
Why Pet Food Hero?
In 2021, Americans spent 126 billion U.S. dollars on their pets. (source) As Americans increasingly take their pet's well-being into their own hands, the pet food industry is rife with outdated standards, questionable veterinary nutritional education, recalls, and misinformation. It's time to expand how we share information about our pet's food, wellness, and well-being. I set out to create a positive, educational, and condensed resource for pets and their people.
After my initial research phase, I wanted to understand how pet owners are currently gathering and synthesizing information when it comes to pet food, health, and wellness. I wanted to understand better:
- How are consumers collecting data on dog and cat food brands?
- What are the deciding factors in food selection?
- What role do doctors or the community play in their decision-making process?
- What information is currently challenging for pet owners to find online but would be interested in knowing?
It was time to fire up the Zoom screen and interview some pet owners!
Here's what I learned about their experiences:
ANALYZE & DEFINE
After my initial research and user interviews, I reviewed and sorted my insights. First, I used Affinity Mapping (grouping ideas based on similarities) to identify common pain points.
Next, I created two main types of users based on the codified affinity map information. The Empathy Mapping process allowed me to understand potential users' underlying motivations, feelings, and thoughts.
Utilizing the two primary personas defined by the Empathy Mapping process, I deepened my understanding of my user base by creating personalized user personas.
How Might We Questions
Now, it's time to generate creative solutions while staying focused on which problems to solve with HMW questions...
Here's what I came up with:
How might we make nutritious pet food approachable for people?
How might we educate the public regarding pet food nutrition, product quality, and recipe information?
How might we create a trustworthy alternative to vet food recommendations?
How might we develop a sense of community with reliable nutritional information?
How might we disseminate information about food recalls, contaminants, and company practices?
Jobs To Be Done
One of the most influential steps of analyzing and defining my user data was Jobs-To-Be-Done. Understanding the social and emotional motivations of the user allowed me to effectively prioritize their jobs, needs, and circumstances before beginning the ideation process.
User Insights and Pain Points
Community matters - No matter the demographic pet owners rely on their community.
Users want answers - Pet owners are trying to find the best food solutions everywhere they can.
Recalls and company standards - There is still a lack of standardized information resources.
Everyone is trying to do the right thing - Trying their best for their pet's health... even in the middle of a confusing industry.
Minimum Viable Product
My mind was racing with possibilities. It was like a naughty puppy chewing on the furniture even though it knew better. I was (mostly) able to control my desire to ideate solutions throughout the analysis process, but now it was finally go time!
Having already identified the significant struggles faced by pet owners, I was ready to create all the solutions. But I had a problem. I had too many ideas. I needed an MVP.
The Minimum Viable Product would allow me to phase my thoughts and create something economical, usable, and (most importantly) not overwhelming to users and stakeholders!
A little sketchy
It was time to sketch.
With user flows and Red Routes in hand, I sketched out the solutions I believed, based on my research, users would find most useful.
I wanted to create an extension of their community. A place where they would feel welcome to be unsure, ask questions, and share information with their new friends.
Guerrilla Testing and Starbucks
After the Red Route sketches were complete, I made a low-fidelity prototype with my sketches in Marvel to test on unsuspecting coffee-drinking pet owners.
One Nitro Cold Brew and five usability tests later, the user flows were solidified, and I was ready to wireframe. There wasn't any feedback that required significant changes after the Guerrilla Testing, so I was full steam ahead.
Wireframes and Wireflows
Next, I jumped into Figma and created my wireframes based on my tested and sketched interfaces. After completing the wireframes, I also made wireflows to communicate further the vision of what was becoming Pet Food Hero.
Design System & Style Guide
As the prototypes evolved, it was time to give the wireframes a little flavor. I created a brand platform, design system, and style guides to bring the community to life.
- Pet Food Hero makes pet food education available to everyone, so families can focus on what they do best: loving their pets.
- Rationale: We provide a platform for pet owners to empower themselves through research, up-to-date information, and community building. Pet Food Hero is a source of hope for people struggling with their pet's food.
- Carefree, spirited, loyal, and energetic – Pet Food Hero has all the traits of your best four-legged friend.
- Competent, caring, and empathic – Pet Food Hero is that friend you know will tell you the brutal truth when you need it but will still give you a hug afterward.
- Rationale: I chose this personality because it is crucial that the brand have a genuine and lasting impact on the lives of customers and their pets. Pet Food Hero is focused on creating solutions and ensuring that people and their pets are cared for.
High Fidelity Mockups
Once the brand aesthetic and wireframes were complete, it was time to make a high fidelity prototype for user testing. Utilizing round edges, organic colors, and a healthy dose of negative space, I created what, based on my research, seemed to be precisely the type of app pet owners needed to grow their knowledge base AND their community.
With my high fidelity mockup in hand, I set out on two rounds of usability testing. Most of my usability testers were pet owners who responded to a Facebook post. After testing five users, I reworked my design and let out to test five more individuals.
Here's how it went:
People want to be Pet Food Heros! Many users remarked that they wished it existed or asked when it was coming out. The testers found the interfaces approachable, friendly, and informative without being "too much."
After the first round of testing, the app showed two major issues.
One: the labeling of the three feeds was slightly misleading.
Two: the gift-giving concept (similar to Reddit's karmas) was not translating into action.
I set out for round two of usability testing with a well-researched icon and feed name change. The feeds were much clearer to the new testers! Score! But the 'gift for good posts' still wasn't translating 100% of the time.
Overall, the app was a success. Pet owners needed a single place to research, find answers, and build community. Pet Food Hero has done that. The design solution provides access to quality content in a concentrated and focused way. The research shows that pet owners turn to those they trust most: family, friends, and Pet Food Hero for reliable pet food solutions.
Although the gift idea did not readily translate to all users, keeping it in the final design is crucial. Pet owners need voices they can trust. Through up-voting, downvoting, and the gamification of gift giving, users will raise the voices of the community who have the most valuable resources to share.
Through the power of community support, users can make their families healthier, more resilient, and as cute as ever.
Click through the Figma prototype here, or watch the video below.