Ruffian: Pet Training from your Pocket

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WHAT

Ruffian is a comprehensive platform for dog parents to find personalized resources for their new pets. It seeks to help pet owners feel confident that they are properly training their dogs, especially during the puppy’s critical period.

WHY

Pet owners are not receiving the reliable support that they need during this challenging time of training. Ruffian seeks to increase pet owners’ commitment to training and empower new them to feel confident in their training abilities.

HOW

We created a one-stop resource that provides personal training sessions, connection to an expert, a tool to coordinate puppy playdates in users' local communities, and integration with a subscription-model "survival kit" that provides training accessories for each step of the way... plus a little something extra. 

My Role

Competitive Landscape, Interviews, Scheduling, Ideation, Design, Design System, Prototyping

Our Team

Chloe Reshetar-Jost, Yiyan Huang, Beth Sarno, Larry Ukaoma

Course

Interaction Design

Expert trainers at an affordable cost can help users overcome inconsistency and lack of confidence

DETERMINING THE PAIN POINTS
We were unsure what the primary pain points were in raising and training a puppy, and did not have a grasp on the features that were necessary for us to include and would help set our product apart. We used survey findings to identify areas to dig into further during generative interviews, including pain/stressful points in having a pet, selection of training services and feedback, and more.
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DISCOVERING WHAT WE CAN ADD
We looked into information on pet subscription boxes, pet training services, and other apps where e-commerce is a sort of secondary function of the app. These helped us better understand how to integrate the subscription service with the training features of the app.

Opportunities

Personalized expert resources

Curated box specific to training needs

Community building in app

Must Haves

Pet profile

Training tracking

Customer support

Subscription-style services

Videos or resources

Organic options

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IDENTIFYING A TARGET USER
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EXTRACTING THE RESULTING CORE FEATURES
Our app’s goal is to create an expert support system for dog owners who want their dogs to be healthy and happy. It focuses on the relationship between owner and dog: through training activities, health information, healthy food and treats, and high-quality toys. This concept statement led us to five core feature areas to include in our design.
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Creating a design system early with Figma components helped our designs stay cohesive throughout

User testing led us to provide clarity in our app and resolve functionality and navigation issues

CHOOSING A DIRECTION FOR COLOR AND MOOD
Creating a mood board early helped get us thinking about visual direction ahead of time. This allowed us to focus more on the features and flow of the app during design and prototyping, and jump right into hi-fis when the time came.
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KEEPING OUR DESIGNS CONSISTENT
We settled on a look that uses large cards and sections of solid color to separate the content and make it easier for users to group the information. Further, we felt that cards afforded a more flexible interface, since users would be able to drag these up and down to explore the content in the application.
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3 rounds of testing

16 participants total

Zoom and UserTesting.com

All have owned/co-owned a dog

USER TESTING
ITERATIONS & FEEDBACK
Starting the wireframing process in Balsamiq afforded us a place where we could quickly assemble screens using the components of the software. Because we decided to split up the work and each take on a feature or two, Balsamiq helped us to have consistent styles across the entire application so that it did not feel too disjointed from designer to designer.
As we moved toward medium-fidelity design, we shifted from Balsamiq to Figma and created a design system utilizing components, variants, and text styles, to continue to create consistent mockups between designers.
We took a RITE approach to user testing to ensure that we could receive the feedback we needed and make the necessary changes within the project timeline.
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Our MVP focuses on supporting users during training, with features throughout to backup this goal

SAMPLE OF WIREFRAMES FROM BALSAMIQ
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SELECTED HI-FI MOCKUPS
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FULL PROTOTYPE WALKTHROUGH 

Remaining open to research findings was the most important aspect for us to successfully develop Ruffian

LESSONS LEARNED

Working fast and testing early is essential, especially in cases such as this project where our features and navigation required lots of revisions between rounds.

Be open to research findings and be ready to iterate. After all, there is a reason why user testing is done.

It is okay to pivot! While it's easier to pivot early on in the process, it is possible to do this later as long as you believe in the vision of your new product and are willing to put in the time to see it through.

Plan for participants to be unable to make meetings. If we had not over-scheduled initially to account for cancellations during our moderated rounds of generative interviews and user testing, we would not have gotten the feedback that we needed. The "worst" thing that can happen with scheduling more people than you need is that you get more information than expected!

Remote project management requires more coordination, but as long as communication is clear and teammates are flexible, the outcome can be equally successful.

NEXT STEPS
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