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How might we help PetHarbor users accurately fill out a Lost Animal Request?

During our research for Paw Prints, an ios concept app, I came across PetHarbor, an online database to reunite or adopt animals nationwide. I got in contact with the Director of Software Engineering of their parent company, HLP, Inc. Aligning with my team’s goal to reunite owners with their missing pets, we joined forces with PetHarbor for a 1-week design sprint, and I was tasked with redesigning a crucial part of the Lost Animal Request form on their website.


Role: Product Design and Research

Team: 2 Product Designers, 1 Business Stakeholder

Platform: Desktop - Form and Website Embed

Tools: Figma, Miro, Zoom, Procreate

The Problem

I needed to understand how this form worked, and why it included what it did. Speaking to the client and an animal shelter specialist, I learned that animals are best identified by SCENT (Size, Coat, Ears, Nose, Tail), which were present in the Lost Animal Request form on PetHarbor.


S-C-E-N-T Markings on an animal

Breeds are also used by shelters and owners, but “Size, Coat, Ears, Nose, and Tail” provided the most accurate matches, especially with mixed breed animals. These traits were attached to animal listings in the database, and the more accurate the report, the better the match.

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Pet Owner's Journey Map using PetHarbor

Because SCENT was a lot to remember, especially with terms like “Brachycephalic,” I hypothesized that this was a pain point on the PetHarbor Lost Animal Request form. To validate this hypothesis, my teammate and I sat with 3 different pet owners to ask them to go through the existing form.

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SCENT as it appears on PetHarbor

Users expressed the following frustrations:

Confusion with labels on the Lost Animal Request form

Unsure what each SCENT option meant because of lack of pictures

Fear of filling in the wrong information on the form

I took the results of these frustrations and drew a storyboard to help the team empathize with the user.


Storyboard of Pet Owner's experience filling out PetHarbor's form