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The idea for the
Ruffian app began... 

in Fall 2020- both the need for remote services and the market for pet products were greater than ever. When we started the plan was to create a box subscription for pet owners, but after our survey and discovery interviews our concept shifted.


We pivoted instead to focus on remote training services, with specialty boxes or 'kits' used to enhance the training experience.


Our main goal throughout was to increase the delight of owning a pet.


  • Decrease stress and encourage positive bonding between pet and owner?

  • Fill a unique niche in the market?

  • Personalize the app to the pet and owner?


This project was part of an "Interaction Design" course at the University of Texas, Austin

September 2020- December 2020


While the team coordinated at every stage my

main duties included...

Survey creation & data analysis

Discovery interview scripts and task script creation

Moderation of 4 interviews

Prototyping & editing "Signup" and "Chat Bot" flow

Creating Hi-fi illustrations and designs 

Team Members

Yiyan Huang

Chloe S Reshetar-Jost

Larry Ukaoma

Project Process



Research +










RITE Testing


Hi-Fi Design


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Competitive + Market Analysis

Method: 16 apps/services, used Miro to analyze


The 'pet market' is still growing during 2020

There are many subscription boxes on the market
Current competitors have little visual appeal

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Method: 20 questions, 60 participants, using Qualtrics


Training issues is number 1 stressor for dog owners

Dog owners spend more than cat owners per month

Interview Script

Method: Analyzed the survey findings and competitive analysis to determine direction of generative interviews.


  1. Introduction to guidelines 

  2. Getting to know you & your pet

  3. Stressors of having pet

  4. Trusted information sources about pets

  5. Purchase behavior for pet products

  6. Peek into our product

  7. Wrap-up 

Example Questions from Script

  • What is/was a typical day spent with [Pet’s name] like, let’s say last weekend?

  • Are there parts of owning a pet that were unexpected?

  • What are some of the best parts of having a pet? What are some of the worst parts (if any)?

  • When you have a question about your pet's behavior where do you go to find the answer? Why?

  • What does shopping for your pet look like?

  • If you could make an ideal pet subscription box, what would it contain?


Method: 6 participants, 45 minutes, interviews over Zoom

"Consistency with training is

hard for me"

"I've seen the toys they put in

some subscription boxes- they are cheap and for smaller dogs"

"This dog is literally our child"


  • Dog owners want behavioral advice from a trusted source- they worry about credibility when performing Google searches.

  • Videos are preferred way of accessing training tips

  • Current subscription boxes can be wasteful with poor quality items.

  • Pets are important family members

  • Consistency is hardest part of training a dog at home


  • Build confidence in pet owners by matching them with an expert trainer they can meet with remotely. Add scheduling tools.

  • Make videos integral to the app experience

  • Create unique Box (or 'Kit') by embracing minimalistic packaging and providing healthy, high quality training resources 

  • Allow fun customization to honor unique pet needs and personality traits


1st Draft of Prototype

Method:Created in Balsamiq, 48 screens




Training (scheduling and resources)

Subscription Box


After internal testing we created a script of tasks for users: Signup, profile creation with chat bot, schedule a training session, create a video response, setup a box subscription and communicate with trainer.

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Rapid Iterative Testing & Evaluation

Within Zoom and

3 Rounds, 16 participants total

Ages 16-47,  13 women/3 men

The task script outlined these tasks...


  1. Home Exploration 

  2. Signup/Onboarding

  3. Account Setup

  4. Home Exploration

  5. Training Tools

  6. Kit Setup/Store

  7. Playdates Exploration

  8. Chat with Trainer/Other Users

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"Imagine that you just adopted a female puppy named Blaze, and you downloaded this application to help you find resources and products to help with training. While adorable, Blaze is 6 months old and 15 lbs of destruction! You need long-term help with manners and socialization training, as well as all the puppy supplies!"

Round 1 of Testing 

4 users, over Zoom

Some Key Findings:

  • Wanted a suggested trainer, but also choice to change to someone else

  • Less invested in finding written resources on app, more interested in finding feedback from trainer and viewing videos

  • Multiple navigations issues arose

Changes after round 1 testing

Version 1 (Balsamiq)

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Version 2 (Figma)


Version 2 (right) enables user to browse available trainers, adding flexibility and control to the experience

Round 2 of Testing

6 users, over

Some Key Findings:

  • Wants more information before payment, and to better understand the app's main features

  • More interested in ability to connect with other dog owners than expected- finding socialization events was deemed a gap in current market

Changes after round 2 testing

Intro screen for training includes intro video with a virtual trainer

Intro screens

provide a 


into the app

and the 



Monthly Kit (1) 1.png
Home - Main (3) 1.png
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Playdate feature allows users to schedule meetups with other dog owners

A few changes included; more information added to introductory screens for knowledge acquisition  and playdates feature is made more robust

Round 3 of Testing

6 users, over

Some Key Findings:

  • Chat bot experience was improved and a screen was added to explain next steps for profile creation

  • Wants more one-click payment options at signup

Changes after round 3 testing


Part of the flow from profile creation, including intro to the chat bot 'assistant'


Group 97.png

After the team voted on a color palette, I created the core illustrations. Since our app was promoting organic and all natural products and minimalistic packaging, the design needed to embody that all-natural, minimalistic vibe


Home - Main.png
Monthly Kit.png
Monthly Kit-1.png
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Next Steps

  • Further market analysis is needed to determine if our price range for the subscription box and training services is appropriate. 

  • Further testing could be done to refine the messaging. 

Metrics for Success- what to look at after launch...

  • Rate of app download

  • How often customers visit (by hour, day or week)

  • The flow customers follow within app- to see if navigation is appropriate

  • Which features are used the most heavily 



Augmenting in-person training with a virtual meeting with dog experts is our attempt to fill a specific need; people want to feel confident about the source of information and that it is personalized to their pet. We succeeded in creating an app prototype that offers tools and feedback, but still need to refine the features down and create stronger messaging around what makes this app unique and delightful.  

Thank you for visiting!

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