2019 / Design Methods

Peer to Peer - CatConnect

December 2019 - February 2020

9 Week Project

My Role

Project Management, Interaction Design, User Research, User Testing.


Leon Zhang, Lin Zhu, Joy Guo

Project Overview

As part of my Interaction Design class project for Design Systems, our team created Cat Connect, an app for both cat owners and cat lovers alike. Share moments with your or others cats, and build connections with each other. Cat connect pushes for a truly meaningful bond between humans and cats with its shareable cat profile function.

Happy Path Showcase

Below is a simplified happy path showcase of the core user experience of discovering, connecting, sharing and updating. This core experience reflects how Cat Connect is more of a community-driven discovery platform rather than a strict payment-and-service platform.

Interaction Showcase

Watch the experience of the product in the trailer below.

Full process walk through

1.0 Research

Prompt : Design a product for the near future that helps humans connect with nonhuman beings in a meaningful way.

1.1 Deep dive into the problem space :

We started our research with a 2 day observations study, we used a fly on the wall technique to understand what animals college students would interact with on campus. We narrowed down the animals into small wild animals and pets, mostly dogs.

1.2 Quantitative Data (Surveys)

This survey was kept intentionally short in order to foster more responses. The questions are designed to be broad to allow room for redefining the topic of research in the follow up survey.

At first glance it may seem more college students have pet dogs, however only 8% of college students who claim to own a dog kept their dog with them on campus, the majority of college students' pet dog was a family pet. Therefore it was hard to argue if the dog was truly “their pet” since they do not spend the majority of the year taking care of them, While 85% of college cat owners kept their cat with them in apartments, and considered the cat to be exclusively their pet.

A follow up survey was conducted with college cat owners to explore potential areas of design.

1.4 Qualitative Data (Interviews)

8 Interviews were then conducted throughout two weeks with (4) college cat owners. and (4) cat sitters

They answered questions through telling stories of their pet sitting experiences from both an owner and sitter perspective. We used this to better understand the interactions between pets, pet owners, and pet sitters.

1.5 Qualitative Data (Photo study)

Finally to understand the behaviors from the animals side we asked interview subjects to take photos of the pets they owned or pet sat, we investigated how cats behave and interact with their owners and how they act when their owners are not around.

1.6 Synthesized Insights

Using affinity diagrams, we synthesized two key insights, trust and relationships from both our quantitate and qualitative data to refine our problem statement.

1.7 Refined Problem Statement

2.0 Design

2.1 Design Principles

To solve our redefined HMW statement, we came up with three overarching design principles to guide our brainstorming and ideation process.

2.2 Brainstorm (60 Idea Sketches)

The first ideas are often the worst ideas, so our team decided to individually brainstorm ideas and share them with each other through sketching. This allowed us to critique and combine our individual ideas during discussions.

2.3 Explore 3 Potential Directions (Story Boards)

Three potential ideas were then further explored through story boarding by our team to understand what areas of of our solution might overlap.

Idea 1 : Cat Sitting Exchange : A form of mobile or web app.
Idea 2 : Meow Meow Notification: A form of accessory for cats.
Idea 3 : Cat Connect: A form of mobile or web app.

2.4 Participatory Workshop (Co-designing)

Three potential ideas were then further explored through story boarding by our team to understand what areas of of our solution might overlap. These would also be critiqued by our professor therefor the story board format is more visually readable.

2.5 Synthesized Design Story board (Proposal)

2.6 Information architecture & Paper Prototyping

Based on our storyboarded experience we created an information architecture. This was an important step to ensure our product solved our design requirements, and prepare us to begin paper prototyping.

3.0 Usability Testing

The Cat Connect project team conducted two usability test sessions with a total of ten cat owners on the UW campus on Feb 28th and 29th, 2020. The purpose of the test was to assess the usability of the app’s interface design, information flow, and information architecture.

3.1  Target User Testing Session

Five participants are involved in a usability test to ensure more stable results. Each individual session lasted approximately 30 minutes. During the session, each task scenario is explained by the test administrator. Test participants attempted completion of six prompted tasks, alongside solving a self directed task.

The Six Prompted Tasks Include :
  • Discover and connect with a few cat profiles that interest you.
  • Find a cat you would like to cat sit from your connections. (Alternatively, find a cat sitter you would like to cat sit for you from your connections).
  • Find more detailed information about any Cat Connect profile.
  • Check your notifications.
  • Share your cat’s profile with your owner to grant them temporary administrative rights.
  • Post a funny cat video.

3.2 Designer Testing and Critique

Unlike the previous group many of these users will not be cat owners or cat-sitters. However, they are interaction or UX designers offering critique from a more professional standpoint. Combining their feedback with the previous test sessions will conclude a clear direction for improvements in the final deliverable.

3.3 Testing Synthesized Results

Raw data is documented throughout the testing process using a rainbow table method to identify key metrics such as task success rate, time on task and errors. In general, all participants found the explore and connect functions to be clear and straightforward. However, the sharing profile function was confusing and how each account is managed was unclear and needed improvement. 

The test identified a few areas for redesign, including:
  • Unnecessary filtering options confuses the explore page user experience.
  • How would an owner with multiple cats manage each cat's account? Do all cats use the same account?
  • How does someone without a cat use an account?
  • Does a user connect to a cat’s account or another user's account? What is the information hierarchy here?
  • In-app chat function should be more simplified.
  • Users don't need an in-depth listing service to find a cat sitter.

3.4 Testing Conclusion

Having a clearer organization between user profiles and cat profiles is crucial for users. The lack of hierarchy and concise interaction leads to confusion. Unnecessary functions will be removed and interactions will be simplified. Next steps will include redesigning and implementing the specific feedback on the profile, connection and notification pages while continuing to work with users to ensure a continued user-centered product.

view the final deliverable (back to top)

4.0 Final Deliverable

4.1 Style Guide

4.2 Mockup Analysis