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PATILE

A mobile app to bridge the gap between Animal Shelter for Stray Animals and volunteer community in Edirne

Client:       Municipality of the city of Edirne

My Role:    UX & UI Designer

Tools used: Figma, Figjam, Adobe Illustrator,

                Notion, Google Meet

OVERVIEW

The Animal Shelter for Stray Animals in Edirne is a vital part of the Edirne Municipality, dedicated to providing medical care and housing for stray animals. The staff at the shelter, which includes veterinarians, offers services such as spaying, among others. Despite its crucial role, public awareness of the shelter is low due to a lack of online presence and visibility. Furthermore, volunteers face challenges in reaching the shelter in case of an emergency. However, there is a growing interest from the volunteer community to get involved with helping stray animals and working with the shelter. So far, individual efforts have been the primary way for people to support the cause. I managed the following project to address these issues and explore opportunities to improve the current system. My goal was to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of the shelter staff and volunteers and uncover the needs of both parties and, then, was to create solutions for their problems.

Patile aims to create solutions for the problems of two different types of users, animal rights advocates/volunteers and Edirne’s municipal animal shelter staff. Through this app, people can easily communicate with the shelter, make appointments, adopt a pet, and report an emergency to the shelter when they see an animal in need of help on the streets. On the other hand, the shelter staff will be able to convey information about the procedures of the shelter, the success rate, and statistics of rescued animals to the public effectively. Patile also acts as an agent to minimize the workload and the time allocated to the paperwork of the shelter staff and to speed up the long procedures, such as adoption.

 

This project is going to be presented in the Municipal Council of the city of Edirne in May 2023. If approved, it will make a huge impact on the negative perception of people towards shelter and play a crucial role in the improvement of the general conditions of stray animals in Edirne.
 

DESIGN PROCESS

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DISCOVERY

The Problem of Effective Communication

In Turkey, official animal shelters regulated by the local municipalities are the most common solution for the rehabilitation of stray animals. Therefore, the regulations and services of such shelters differ from one municipality to another significantly.

The lack of one single regulation, transparency of functioning mechanisms, and official inspection tours turn these shelters into a place of profound ambiguity in the eyes of animal rights advocates. Furthermore, some news on how cruelly the stray animals are treated in some shelters accelerates the negative perceptions of people towards the official shelters.

It was my restless curiosity to induce me to do this research. The first thing that I did was to conduct netnographic research. After analysing a plenty of reviews from residents of the city, I came to a realisation that many people considerably struggle with reaching the shelter, and people said “I cannot even find a phone number of the shelter in case of emergency”. I considered this situation as a call for action leading me to the next step, which was in-depth research.

 

Creating a Project Plan

I started this project by creating a project plan where I identify the stakeholders, my process, and articulated my objectives, research questions, and initial assumptions to minimize the possibility of researcher bias.

Business Objectives

  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the shelter's operations by addressing the challenges the staff and volunteers face.

  • Increase the impact and sustainability of the shelter's efforts by creating a strong support system and raising public awareness.

  • Attract more volunteers to support the shelter's operations and improve its ability to provide medical care and housing for stray animals.

  • Establish the shelter as a leader in the animal welfare community and attract support and recognition from local and regional organisations.


Research Objectives

  • Identify the needs of the shelter staff and volunteers regarding resources, support, and communication.

  • Gather feedback from the volunteer community on their experiences and expectations in supporting the shelter.

  • Evaluate the experiences and challenges the shelter staff and volunteers face in their daily operations.

  • Assess the current level of public awareness of the Animal Shelter for Stray Animals in Edirne and identify factors that contribute to its low visibility.

RESEARCH

Based on the research plan, first I conducted an online survey with 42 participants followed by 4 in-depth interviews both with volunteers and animal shelter staff.

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The survey gave me valuable insights about volunteers, such as their knowledge level of the services provided by the shelter. This graph significantly indicates that the majority of participants do not know the services of the shelter.

Affinity Diagram.png

This affinity diagram identifies the pain points, behaviours, motivations, and expectations. It significantly pointed out 4 major themes with several interesting subthemes, such as "lack of information" and "lack of trust between parties". 

These Were Some Significant Insights
I Figured Out

Volunteers with limited information or
a previous negative experience show
reluctance for further visits and creating
collaboration with the shelter staff.

Some volunteers show resentment towards the shelter if they have had a negative experience before.

A volunteer: “I do not know the recent developments in the shelter. After my negative previous experiences, I am feeling a certain resentment. Now, I help animals by collaborating with the private veterinary clinics in Edirne.”

The lack of online visibility is a crucial
factor coming into the picture in various forms, such as accelerating power for the mistrust between parties.

The lack of online presence should be considered as an underlying reason for the growing gap between parties. This factor becomes more vital for the animal shelter staff who complains about the existing mistrust from the volunteer community.

Veterinarian: “Volunteers accuse us of being unconscientious, but we are not. We all love animals here, just like them.”

The lack of effective communication plays an important role in the low adoption rate of the shelter.

The low rate of adoption is an issue where two parties agree on the need for improvement. Furthermore, both shelter staff and volunteers show eagerness to contribute to this process.

Veterinarian: “Our adoption rate is highly low because we don’t have the resources to promote adoption. We ask volunteers for help, and they take photos of animals and share them online”

Volunteers face challenges in reaching the shelter in case of an emergency, which contributes to negative assumptions toward the shelter staff.

The process of reporting an emergency to the shelter should be improved.

A volunteer: “They did not pick up the phones again, but we somehow managed to visit the shelter on that day”

Veterinarian: “We send our emergency team to incidents immediately; however, we are accused of being late for this time. But really, nobody sits back here!”

The lack of transparency has a negative impact on the reputation of the shelter.

Volunteers want to be informed about the developments and procedures in the shelter. On the other hand, shelter staff is eager to convey this information to the public.

A volunteer: “It is difficult to get information about the aftermath of the animals we handed in”

Veterinarian: “The number of sterilisation and the rescued animals increased significantly, but no one knows about it”

The shelter staff shows more willingness to collaborate with the volunteers and wants to break down the biases against the shelter.

Due mainly to the recent upsetting news about the cruelty in another shelter in Turkey, some volunteers accused the shelter staff of murder.

Veterinarian: “No one kills a dog here, no! Why would we?! Everyone here wants to help them instead.”

It Was Right Time to Build Empathy

After analysing both qualitative and quantitative data gathered from the online survey and 1:1 interviews, I identified 2 different user profiles, Aylin (28, Veterinarian in the shelter) and Buse (31, Volunteer). These personas allowed me to understand the users’ needs better.

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Persona 2 (1).png

These Were Some Leading User Stories

As a user, I want to get informed about the shelter so that I can help more when there is any need.

As a user, I want to report a case of emergency when I see an animal in need of help in a street so that the animal can be rescued.

As a user, I want to apply for adoption of an animal from the shelter online so that I can speed up the process.

As a user, I want to arrange a visit to the shelter by using this app so that I can easily visit the animals and see if everything is all right.

As a user, I want to get information about the health status of animals that I handed into the shelter by reporting an emergency case.

As a user from the shelter staff, I want to communicate with volunteers effectively so that I break down the biases against the shelter staff.

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IDEATION  &
PROTOTYPING

After the research phase, I generated many ideas to provide the best solutions for their needs and goals. During this phase, I significantly realized that our design would serve not only the volunteer community but also the animal shelter staff. Therefore, I should create two different user interfaces, one for the volunteer community and an admin panel for the animal shelter staff.​

These Were My Key Solutions

Icon 1 (1).png

Volunteers can easily apply for adoption by using the “Adopt” feature of the product.

The user can see the list of animals in the shelter ready for adoption through this feature. They can also be informed about the health status, size, sex, and age of an animal on the cards designed as a profile of an animal.

The shelter staff can easily process an application for adoption by using the “View Applications” feature of the admin panel.

The shelter staff will be ready for adoption by the time the volunteer arrives in the shelter. The process will be easier to follow for both parties.

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Volunteers can report an emergency by using the “Report” feature of Patile with ease.

The user can report an incident to the shelter, and after reporting, they can also check the status of their report and follow the updates about the health condition of the animal.

The shelter staff is able to view an emergency report by using the “View Reports” feature of admin panel and get notifications for every new report.

After a notification for an emergency appears on the main screen of the admin panel, the staff will send the emergency team to the incident quickly.

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Volunteers can conveniently make an appointment for their visits to the shelter by tapping the “Visit Us” button.

The user can report an incident to the shelter, and after reporting, they can also check the status of their report and follow the updates about the health condition of the animal.

The shelter staff can view the number of appointments made by the volunteers by using the “View Appointments” feature.

By being aware of the number of visits in a day, the shelter staff can arrange their daily schedule and be more productive.

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Volunteers are able to see their information, history of visits, and emergency reports on the “Profile” screen.

The user can edit their personal information, get information about their current or previous visits, and check the updates in the status of their emergency reports.

The shelter staff can add new statistical information about the shelter regularly and manage the system on the admin panel with minimum effort.

The staff can also add new admins to the panel, upload a new animal profile, and updated the existing ones in related sections of the panel.

Wireframing

Patile Wireframe 1 (1).png

Patile Mobile App

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Patile Admin Panel

UI Design Elements

Colour Palette

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Color 2 (1).png
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Fonts

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Fonts 2 (1).png
Fonts 3 (1).png
Fonts 4 (1).png

Buttons

Tab (1).png
üye ol (1).png
ziyaret et (1).png

Prototype

Patile Mobile App

Patile Admin Panel

Patile Admin Prototype.png

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TEST & ITERATION

After prototyping, I conducted online usability tests followed by a post-usability test questionnaire with 4 participants. I gave them 3 different scenarios and asked them to complete 3 tasks by using Patile.​
 

Ecem Usability SS.png

Based on the findings from both usability test observations and the questionnaire, I decided to change the name of the section where users can see the list of animals to adopt. Since it was obvious that “Paw me”, the initial name of the section, was not intuitive enough for the users, I changed it as “Adopt”. Another significant finding induced me to make the “Visit Us” button more visible by placing it at the top of the home page next to the notification icon.

I also received valuable suggestions from the users, such as “adding an option to see statistical information of previous months”; however, I consider this as a suggestion for future iterations since it deserves further research and tests with other users.

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CONCLUSION

Patile’s role to connect the Animal Shelter of Edirne Municipality and animal rights supporters in Edirne will be vital while it also serves the goals of the user groups. It will have a positive impact on the improvement of the shelter’s services, collaboration between parties, and eventually the establishment of trust and a prestigious identity for the shelter.

I went through a design process that began with research to understand the needs, motivations, and behaviors of both groups. I, then, moved on to idea generation, building prototypes, testing, and making refinements for the product with top-notch solutions.

The major earthquake taken place in February in Turkey caused a 3-week delay; however, I managed to complete this design project properly.

The Project Report

As one of the final steps, I created a detailed report to be presented to the Municipal Council of Edirne. In the report, I discussed my significant findings, the needs of the users and my design solutions. I also showcased our prototype.

Furthermore, I also conducted market research, and get financial information from different developers in the tech market. Based on my findings, I include my financial considerations and the total budget of the project in the report.
 

Things to be considered for future iterations

  • During the usability test phase, I received a suggestion from a user that I should add a new feature that enables the user to view more statistical information from previous months. However, I believe this feature deserves further research and tests to see if it brings value to other users too.  

  • Another suggestion from a participant was to add a feature that enables users to watch the shelter directly by using this app. However, due mainly to the official procedures, I decided to consider this for further iterations since it also deserves further research and negotiation with the stakeholders.

The take away

  • Good UX writing is very significant since it helps me a lot to make the design more intuitive.

  • User stories are so helpful to keep our focus more on the users and their goals. 

  • Semi-structured user interviews allowed me to learn more than I expected; therefore, a systematic analysis is required to gain a profound understanding of our user's pain points, motivations, feelings, and behaviours.

I'm willing to talk more about it in
an interview!

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