The Pet Match Project

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  • Title: The Pet Match Project: Design Thinking, Rapid Prototyping, and User Testing for Audience Understanding
  • Author(s): Justin Davis, Keyshalee Sanchez, Jennifer A. George-Palilonis
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design Education
  • Keywords: Design Thinking, User-centered Design, Participatory Prototyping, Pet Relinquishment
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2325-128X (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1298 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Davis, Justin, Keyshalee Sanchez, and Jennifer A. George-Palilonis. 2019. "The Pet Match Project: Design Thinking, Rapid Prototyping, and User Testing for Audience Understanding." The International Journal of Design Education 14 (2): 17-30. doi:10.18848/2325-128X/CGP/v14i02/17-30.
  • Extent: 14 pages


The Pet Match project implements user-centered design, rich storytelling, and user experience design to create a pet adoption experience that helps individuals choose a pet that fits their lifestyles to reduce dog relinquishment rates. Expert interviews, location-based observations, and design thinking were used to create an initial low-fidelity prototype. A rapid, iterative cycle of user experience (UX) testing was then employed to refine the product quickly. Five participants were selected to test the first prototype, and after their feedback was analyzed, a second mid-fidelity prototype was developed and tested with a new batch of users. The System Usability Scale (SUS) and User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ) were administered after each test, and results were analyzed for patterns and discrepancies. This process permitted the design to quickly evolve and address participants’ criticisms and better meet the needs of consumers. Based on rapid UX testing, a specific need was identified within the parameters of the problem space: A modular website envisioned as a template for use by a variety of pet shelters and rescue organizations. The website incorporates rich storytelling to instruct audiences about pet responsibilities, different types of dogs, and what kind of pet fits best with archetypal personas. Additionally, it offers a quiz to help match users to dogs currently in shelters. This article details the design thinking process used to develop this project and reports results from user testing. We also discuss lessons learned in the hopes that other designers can emulate these processes in future interaction design projects.