I was selected to participate in Google and PetRescue’s weekend hackathon event – Pethack 2020
I worked in a small team of 3 over 2 days to go from research to presentation of a high-fidelity prototype.
About the project
Every year, it’s estimated that 100,000+ healthy pets are killed in council pounds & shelters, most without ever being offered for adoption. 
The problem isn’t irresponsible pet owners, overpopulation or abandonment. The issue is flawed legislation and a dysfunctional pound system that fails to meet our communities’ expectations and relentlessly puts rescue groups under immense pressure to save lives.
Council pounds offer little in the way of transparency, visibility and accountability regarding impounded pets and their outcomes. They are risk-averse and inflexible when considering new concepts and techniques to improve outcomes for impounded pets.
How might we create a system that ensures positive outcomes for all pets and empowers the community?
- Lead meeting facilitator
- Delegation of tasks
I worked together with my team to:
- Define our problem statement
- Ideate a solution through brainstorming
- Create low-fidelity mock ups on Google Jamboard
- Create mid and high-fidelity mock ups with Figma
- Present our final solution
- PetRescue.com.au is the #1 adoption platform in the southern hemisphere
- 660,487+ total pets adopted since 2004
- #1 most visited website (Australian Pet & Animal category)
- 7th most visited website (Pets & Animals category worldwide)
- Pethack 2020 organiser and sponsor
- Pre-pandemic venue at Google HQ – venue was moved to Google Meet.
- Part of the team of judges, along with designers from Facebook, Up Banking, Guide Dogs, G2Z and Adopt-a-pet (USA).
The design process
We had 2 days to define, ideate, prototype, and present a solution.
Day one was spent on defining our problem statement and ideating our solution.
Day two was spent rapidly prototyping and preparing a remote, digital presentation in the form of an audio recording and Slides presentation.
- Google Jamboard
- Google Meet
- Google Slides
We were provided with a wealth of information and statistics to aid us in the design process. This helped us to thoroughly understand the scope of the problem, and the key problem areas.
The current animal management system lacks transparency - pounds often don't disclose or even record data on animals.
There is no standard system, many just use basic tools such as Excel and the admin is very time consuming.
Too many animals get stuck in the system's back log and end up being euthanised. Sometimes this includes unclaimed pets. This is expensive and takes a huge mental toll on the council workers, and the vets responsible for euthanasia.
When a lost animal is brought to a vet, the vet is prohibited by law from contacting the owner. The animal must go straight to the pound, where the staff will attempt to contact the owner. However this takes time and is generally only during office hours.
We designed an app that would record data of the animals going in and out of the pound and act as a primary management system.
From the point that these animals are found to the point of that they reach the pound, this data will be publicly visible so lost pets can be reunited with their family, and strays can be offered for adoption.
Benefits to the council
- Decreases the cost of pound maintenance by speeding up the pet collection/animal adoption process and reducing the amount of pets being held at the pound.
- Decreases the amount spent on euthanising animals by getting them through the system quickly before they have to be put down.
- Decreases mental trauma of staff responsible for caring for the animals, and the vets responsible for euthanasia.
Benefits to the public
- Improves transparency of local pound activities creating peace of mind and encouraging the community to work together.
- Improves visibility of lost pets to the public, allowing owners to find their lost family members easily when vets are not legally allowed to notify them.
- Improves visibility of adoptable animals to help connect them with the huge number of people looking to adopt.
I used Miro to refine our user flows, and demonstrate the main use cases of the app.
I used Miro to finalise the design of our site map – creating 2 versions to reflect the 2 use cases.
We used Google Jamboard and Wacom tablets to sketch out some rough wireframes while discussing the layout over a Meet call. Once we had the basic layout agreed upon, we got off the call to work on a mid-fidelity prototype in Figma.
*Unfortunately, it seems someone deleted the mid-fidelity prototype promptly after completing the final version 🙁
I designed a logo to represent our app. We kept the look and feel of the app fairly simple to make our tight 1-day deadline achievable.
We collaborated in Figma to rapidly produce a high-fidelity mock up.
I then turned it into 2 separate interactive prototypes.
Use case #1 - Rangers' flow
Use case #2 - Public's flow
We used Google Slides to present our solution and prototype.
We divided the presentation into thirds, each recorded ourselves separately, then put it all together with the slides as our final deliverable.
Challenges and lessons
Working at a rapid pace in a small team was a great experience. Unfortunately we had several hurdles to overcome with team members who didn’t show up, didn’t contribute, or who dropped out.
In the end we managed to complete the project to a high standard with only 3 members, though it took some overtime work.
I enjoyed taking on a leadership role in the team amongst 2 younger designers. I was able to ensure that everyone was delegated appropriate tasks for their expertise, and we worked together efficiently with regular meeting times to stay coordinated.