Pic Me Pets is a website dedicated to helping shelter pets find homes faster. It does this by providing compelling photography through local volunteer photography participation. By focusing on the photos, this content-first driven website allows shelter pets to get the marketing they deserve.
I collaborated with local shelters and volunteer photographers to schedule events for content.
- Timeframe: 02/14/2016 – Present
- Platform: Responsive Website
- Key Performance Metrics: Web Metrics
- Responsibilities: Founder, UX Lead, Content Strategist
- Team Members: Tech. Lead: Curtis Carter, Volunteer Photographers: Tim Doyle, Ron Buck, and Michael Pachis
- UX Methods: Lean UX, Rapid Prototyping, User Empathy Maps, and MVP
- Design Tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, XD, and POP APP
The process of adoption has changed with the prevalence of the Internet in the last decade. When choosing a pet a few years ago, potential adopters would visit a shelter. They first looked at the appearance of the animal. They would then explore the personality of the pets. Today, pets are currently judged by their appearance alone. They must make an impression within seconds on a screen. If a pet is poorly photographed and marketed, this greatly reduces the chance for them to be adopted.
I organized a local group to help photograph animals at the Humane Society of Memphis and Memphis Animal Services. We photograph at both places regularly. Our group is not a nonprofit and it simply cost $15 to be put together. We have accomplished so much in just a year. Our photos have recently been included in both of their online directories. This means that our photos are the first photos seen when someone is looking for a pet in Memphis. Because of one person who shared their story, many lives were saved. We hope by sharing our story; countless more lives will be spared in the future.
User Empathy Maps
I used a contextual inquiry on a competitor to determine user pain points. I sat with two user volunteers from campus in their apartments as they used a competitor’s website to search for a dog. From these contextual inquiries, I made my user empathy maps.
Through qualitative research and extensive secondary research, I educated myself on which specific factors affected pet adoption. I summarized my key findings below:
Increase Adoption Rates:
- Dogs photographed outside
- Dogs photographed standing up
- Dog or cat makes direct eye contact with camera
Decrease Adoption Rates:
- Blurry photos
- Photos not appropriately sized
- Animals in cage
- Too many photos
After deciding to make a content first website due to my research, I made an MVP using a Facebook page to determine the need for our content. Working with the volunteer photographers and local shelters, we were able to develop new pictorial content on a weekly basis.
After I put an early mock-up together of what I envisioned, I started to code it my HTML & CSS course. I was interested in how cards worked loading a quantity of photos.
I created clickable wireframes using Sketch and POP to iterate through design options quickly. Working with the technical lead and volunteer photographers, I used these wireframes to discuss content strategy. After sharing these, I quickly realized this was harder to code and maintain I thought. Working with volunteers and limited resources, I re-evaluated “needs” vs. “wants.”
After distributing user surveys, I made more wireframes to better fit my user feedback. This time, I broke down the navigation by what the users voted most important.
After the volunteer photographers and I developed enough content; I made a lean prototype. I utilized a WordPress CMS pre-made template to deliver content faster and in a more contextual manner. This lean prototype would be a starter website to test content. Viewers are not able “read more” or enlarge images. It also has horizontal scrolling for desktop.
I tried to automate posting on our site via our Facebook page. This way, volunteers could post photos without logging into our CMS. With limited resources and time, I could not re-post each photo along with detail on the site. After the automation completed, the pictures did not properly resize to our site. To remain updated with shelter information, more detailed code would be needed that could speak with the various websites.