Safe Havens for Evacuee Pets and Their Humans

Enabling volunteers to list and share space in their homes.

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Our challenge was to design an application to coordinate community-led efforts to respond to natural disasters. The app needed to streamline locally-led activities and make them more effective as impacted individuals waited for the National Guard, American Red Cross, and other organized groups to come in to assist. Additional requirements that my responsibilities included were social media integration and a way for people to volunteer and donate time/resources.

After doing some initial research, our team found that victims of natural disasters sometimes choose to remain in danger zones in order to stay with their pets and that public health and safety concerns impact shelter availability for evacuees with pets. 

CommuniPet was created to bridge the gap of communication between those who need to evacuate their homes due to weather-related disasters with their pets (user type 1) and people who desire to serve their community and those impacted by these disasters (user type 2). My contributions to Communipet were primarily focused on user type 2. To view the full playbook that covers both user types, click here.

Project Information

Lead UX Designer for Secondary User Type (Host)

Group Project for M.P.S. in UX Design at MICA


Methodologies Explored

  • User Research

  • User Personas

  • Wireflows

  • High-Fidelity Prototype

Nov – Dec 2021 (6 weeks)

Planning Our Research

My responsibilities in the research phase were to uncover questions to guide our efforts in discovering information and create an interview guide for the team to use when screening and interviewing potential users. 

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Snapshot of Research Questions

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Snapshot of Interview Guide

Key Themes in Findings 

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Affinity Mapping in Mural

Collectively, we used Mural to conduct an affinity mapping exercise of our findings in user interviews, desk research, and competitive analysis. Six themes emerged that shaped our next steps. From these themes, we knew we were designing for a younger audience typically in their 20s and 30s with familiarity using mobile apps and that safety and security were of primary concern for our two users. The biggest challenge for pet owners in natural disaster zones is finding shelter that will accommodate animals in a clean and humane environment. This led us to design a tool that enables volunteers to list their homes as safe havens and evacuees to book these locations with ease and efficiency in the midst of stressful times. 

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Understanding User Needs and Pain Points

Next we developed a persona (Kyle) for the volunteer host and mapped out what his experience would look like both outside and inside CommuniPet. This informed me of specific screens and interactions the prototype would need in order to best serve Kyle's tasks and behaviors. 

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User Type 2 (Host) Persona

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User Scenario for User Type 2 (Host)

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Wireflows for User Type 2 (Host)

High-Fidelity Prototype

I designed Kyle's prototype to have three main interactions: listing his home on Communipet, sharing it to social media, and confirming a booking from user type 1 (Evacuee). 

Throughout the process of designing these interactions, it was important to make it as mobile-friendly as possible to allow for quick listing and sharing given how quickly help is needed during natural disasters.

I especially wanted to make selection easy with large, tappable areas and a progress bar to keep the user abreast of how many steps are left to completion. 

You can watch the prototype video or access it in Figma.