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How might we imagine

a new way of boarding pets?

Swap is a pet boarding platform. It connects pet parents and finds the Low-cost and efficient way to help each other to board pets.


Individual project


User Research

User Interviews

Journey Mapping



Screen Flows

Visual Design

Interaction Design


Adobe XD



Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Photoshop

Pen and Paper


The Problems

Now, more and more people choose pets as their companions. Along with this, the demand for pet foster care services has increased. There are many options for pet boarding, whether it is a traditional pet hotel or an Internet company. Despite the abundant choices, the uneven service levels and high prices make it difficult for pet parents to choose.

The Challenges

It‘s really hard to board our pets in a safe, cheap, and convenient way. 

There are two cases here.

CASE 1: If you are looking for a company to boarding pets.

Expensive Price

The Pet boarding fee is expensive. (Common pricing for overnight boarding in a kennel is $40-$60 per night in San Francisco.)

Changeable Time

Many places require an appointment in advance. But personal plans change frequently. If you choose a pet, you can only give up traveling.

No Uniform Standard

There is no uniform pet boarding standard in the industry. Because users have different needs, the service is difficult to get everyone's satisfaction. And the price sometimes does not equal the quality of service.

CASE 2: If you find family or friends to help.

Not a long-term option

Your choices will become very few unless you have a lot of friends and also they aways can help you.


Getting help from friends and family is not a deal, so it is likely to cause conflict. (How much to pay? Will this disturb them? If I want to check the status of pets regularly, Is it rude?)


Our family and friends may not have pets. So they may not know how to take care of pets. 

Key Drivers

With the increasing homogeneity of the pet service product market, building a platform ecosystem is critical to the success of applications. I based my designs to deliver upon the following key areas.


Establish a pet community and encourage the owners to help each other to form a new ecological environment. Look for low prices in the community model.


Create communication opportunities between the pet owners to find solutions to problems. Simultaneously. By enhancing the user's information communication efficiency, reduce the burden of mobile phone software on users.


It is difficult to establish uniform standards for foster care services. Through personalized customization, users can freely choose prices and services.

The Process

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Background Research

Market Research

The average cost charged by dog boarding kennels is $30 to $50 per nightwith most pet owners spending $40. Weekly boarding rates start at $150while monthly prices cost $500 on average. In 2017, $69.51 billion was spent on pets boarding in the U.S. Pet Services. Overall, finding the right dog boarding option for your dog will depend mainly on what’s available in your area and your personal preferences.

Competitive Analysis

To kick-off and to have a better understanding of our scope, in the beginning, I‘m unsure if there is any existing competitive product that could provide us enough information. So I decided to take a look at the most popular dog setter and boarding apps on the market. 

User Research

Professional field research

Most parents solve their needs by looking for a boarding service. There are several ways can do: Dog Kennel, Hospital & Vet Boarding, In-Home Boarding, Dog Sitting. But each way will bring more or less concerns to the pet owner.

Contagious Diseases

Boarding your dog involves having it spend the entire time with other dogs whose health history you’re unaware of. With all the highly infectious diseases floating around, you’re justified to worry. One of the most contagious dog diseases is kennel cough.  Kennel cough spreads through the aerosols released by a dog when it coughs. Contaminated items such as food bowls and direct contact are other ways that a dog can get infected.

Dog Traumatized After Boarding

Boarding facilities differ a lot in schedules and dog handling. Taking your dog to a boarding kennel might result in unforeseen behavioral changes depending on how they interact with other dogs and how the kennel staff treats it. Mostly, the stress is a result of the dog being kenneled with other strange dogs and the noise from all the dogs’ barking.

Kennel Syndrome

Kennel syndrome, also known as “kennelosis,” is the behavior that a dog assumes when it’s in survival mode. It comes about when a dog spends most hours in the kennel. Yes, prolonged kenneling can drive your dog crazy. Kennel syndrome manifests in either extreme aggression or extreme submission. If your pooch is in a boarding facility that kennels them for long, then it stands a chance of developing kennel syndrome.

Is it really a good idea to keep your dog with friends?

Due to some of the above concerns, many dog owners choose to leave the dog for the care of friends. This is the best way for an emergency, but it seems to be not a thoughtful choice for recurring needs. How much to pay? Will this disturb your friends? If I want to check the status of pets regularly, Is it very rude?

User Interview

I interviewed randomly at a dog park near home. I interviewed a total of 20 groups of people. And here I selected the most representative 3 people as the display.


30, Soccer coach
care for their dog a lot (safety issue), He pays more attention to the health of dogs, such as food, make raw food for their dog.  


1 & half, Tame dog

Friendly to strangers, Like jogging with his owner. 

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27, Teacher

Look fit, jogging with their dog often, care about food quality, work from home, Instagram user, follow dog bloggers on ins. She rarely needs pet boarding. If there is a travel plan, she will look for a better pet hospital to board the dog.


25, Graduate student

Routine daily schedule. Walk dog before and after class. Go to bible study one day a week. Have a tight budget on raising dogs. He often chooses to board his dog at a friend's house. 



4 & half, Naughty dog

Eat every thing on the ground.


30, Store manager

Talkative, love to meeting people and make friends, giving treats to other dogs. She has experience helping others keep pets, and she loves animals.



2 & half, Strong dog

Sometimes Stomach, Destroy things at the home, Like to jump into people.

Semantic Profile

After that, I used the online questionnaire to interview dog parents, and received 52 feedbacks and made this semantic profile. Finally, I chose the  Group C  as my target users.

Semantic Profile-02-02.png

Semantic profiles measure people's attitudes about products, services, experiences, concepts, and similar entities. They are used to compare how different pet parents think and feel about entities.


Persona info: age/ gender/ status/ location/ story/ motivations/ pain point.

How might we?


Due to cost constraints, the pet's status cannot be communicated in a foster care center on time.


If you let your friends take care of your pets for a while, It is not convenient to confirm your pets' status usually.

Due to the labor cost, the rent and other hidden fees are high, so the pet's foster price is very high.

If you find a friend to help, it will be too embarrassing to talk about the price.  It seems not good for friendship.


If your social circle is small, it is difficult to find a friend to help.


Pet parent wants to know the status of the pet immediately.

People feel that pet boarding price is not worth and hopes to find another way to lower the price.

People feel it's hard to find a suitable friend to help.

How might we?

If we design a transparent, efficient system for the owner?

If we can use shared resources to reduce costs?

If we can broaden our social circle, it is not limited to friends we know?

How might we design a transparent, cheap, efficient way to board their pets?

Design Process


During the class, I did brainstorming with classmates, then I formatted 9 ideas into the IDEO innovation worksheet. Among them, I gradually narrowed down into one final idea — “Swap”, a pet boarding platform. 

Finalize Idea

Asking for feedback is an efficient way to confirm and iterate concepts. By presenting our findings and ideas to people, we gradually simplified our strategy — connecting pet parents together to build a platform for them to help each other. 

How does it work?
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User Flow & Wireframes (Wireflow) 1.0

User Flow 1.0
Wireframe 1.0

Sketch 1.0

Wireflow 1.0

Through previous interviews and critique, I found that Swap users are complex. Because it is a collaborative app, users are divided into two camps: the user (the person who needs help) and the server (the person who provides the service). So at the beginning I tried to imitate the taxi software like uber or lift, separating the user and the server in two independent apps. But I found that my target users are not the same. The roles of my target users are often exchanged, and pet boarding service is not used as often as taxi applications. So I decided to combine both functions in one application and simplify the user's steps to make the software easier to use.


Usability Test & User Flow & Wireframes (Wireflow) 2.0

Usability Test

After designing User Flow, I kept running usability tests to ask about what they liked, what they didn’t like, the problems they found, and ideas that came out. Based on the feedback I got, I generated a clearer Wireframe.

usability test.jpg

Usability Test 1.0

Test Results

1. Consider offline and online experience

Pet boarding services are not just online work. After pet parents use the software to establish contact with others, they will also conduct offline communication and pet transportation. So the application needs to consider how to guide users' actions. And designers also need to consider the invisible needs of users, such as visiting pets' fostering environment (other people's homes); communicating facts with pet sitter; and how to deal with problems after encountering problems.

3. Use virtual currency instead of money

At the same time, I used virtual currency in the application to help users trade and save money. Users can help other users take care of their pets to get virtual currency. And when they need help, they can also spend virtual money in exchange for services.

User Flow 2.0

Based on the feedback I drew​ the User Flow 2.0.