Welcome to Rover Trails

Case Study

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Project Concept

We don’t always have the time to spend walking our dogs and getting them the exercise they truly need. Rover provides services for your dog, from; daycare, boarding, drop-in visits, house sitting, and walking. The new Rover Trails extension, provides a pickup and drop-off service, with trained and certified dog walkers who will take your pup to the best trails in your community. The new Rover Trails app makes it easy to schedule a walk, see upcoming events, and contact a dog walker or other dog owners immediately. Rover Trails allows a user to post comments in a live chatroom where users can share photos, comments, stickers and videos. The app not only makes scheduling a pickup so easy with a simple calendar appointment tool, but you can also read reviews, message a dog walker directly, and pay for a service with a simple payment tool. After you schedule an appointment you receive a confirmation and your dog walker will contact you before pickup! It’s as easy as setting up a profile and becoming a part of the dog lover community.

Design Objective

We want to create a user-friendly experience through the Rover Trails app to insure scheduling will be made easy, payments will be processed instantly and securely, and we strive to promote an online community of engagement through a digital messaging chatroom where users can engage in a creative multimedia space.

"How can we make scheduling an appointment and paying for it, a positive experience?"

The Challenge

When it comes to the process we took to develop ideas for a brand extension, the biggest challenge came from working backwards. We started by launching a press release ranting and raving about our product. Originally with the Domino's Design Sprint, we spent time understanding a need, or a problem we wanted to solve. By conducting user research we were able to quickly cancel out the solutions that didn't really meet a need. With this process, working backwards, it wasn't until later I realized there are so many similar concepts already in place. I found multiple companies that provide similar services as Rover does, and who were all using very similar tools to assist the process from a mobile device. The biggest challenge I faced launching this press release first, was the lack of time to research. It was time consuming developing an idea and then writing about it so quickly. The press release felt like an opportunity to really get creative with the concept, which in turn, ended up being too big to tackle (after critique) so refinements were necessary immediately before the project could move further. With the project under a pressing schedule, I learned a lot about 

"I want people to be hassle free when it comes to scheduling a pickup for this amazing new service! The scheduling tool should be simple, easy to navigate and complete a purchase in a matter of seconds!"

User Research Synthesis

There's so much to learn when we talk to the user. After conducting one-on-one interviews with a variety of people ranging in hobbies and personal needs, all of which were dog owners, and lovers. I asked the same questions to young adults ranging from 22 to grown adults age 63, and found most of the interests were overlapping with the exception of the "desire for creating community in a chatroom". Some users had no desire to mingle with other dog owners, but they liked the idea they could receive photos and updates from the dog walker personally. On the other side, the majority of users loved the idea of creating a social interaction among users, which would lead to building friendships n their neighborhoods. By conducting these interviews, I was able to find some commonalities and interests, and I was able to identify things to include, and things to avoid. I also found new ideas the users wanted to see developed. Ultimately, these interviews led to gathering enough information to narrow down the scope for design concepts, considering function, layout, and simplicity in the process. By conducting these interviews I was able to identify our target user, and I was able to generate a persona for Rover Trails.

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"I designed Rover Trails Chatroom to create a place for engagement and interactions among our fellow dog-lover community and families. This space is meant to encourage friendly conversations and to provide the opportunity for families to share adventures their pups are having together while they're on the trails!"

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User-Preferred Apps to Better Understand

It was absolutely crucial to look further into the different apps people are currently using for scheduling and messaging. We need to understand why these apps are being used. We know from our interviews some of the features the users prefer, and why they prefer it. With this information we can examine each app mentioned to evaluate layout, design, function, and process to complete a "transaction". 

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Facebook

Facebook seems to be a rather popular social media space identified by users who enjoy the creativity and flexibility the Messenger app provides. Facebook allows users to share photos, stickers, videos, and even GIF animations to any user in their friends list. Why is this such a hot commodity? Users enjoy the clean and easy layout, navigation, and again, the tools add fun and interactive features which create an engaging space.

The Messaging app is organized in a list of contacts to view as you scroll. The simplicity of this design makes it easy to navigate. The added search utility also gives a quicker method for finding a specific contact quicker. Furthermore, Facebook also provides a user-friendly scheduling tool that not only allows you to create events in a calendar space, but you can also invite other users to interact within these events. Again, we can consider all the same delighted features within the Messenger app, which are also included within the event feature. Users prefer a space that feels organized and managed all within one main application. Users also really enjoy the community aspect Facebook provides when interacting with others. 

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Google Calendar

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99% of my users who were asked what scheduling tool they prefer to use stated, Google Calendar was their favorite because it's already tied into contact list, as an extension to one of their favorite email providers, Gmail. Google Calendar makes it easy to click on a date, add an event, invite others, and also target a location using Google Maps. Once you set an event you can also set reminders and notifications too. 

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WhatsApp Messaging Tool

WhatsApp is is the latest and somewhat "greatest" messaging app that's NOT tied into another app like Facebook, where all your information is at risk to the general public! This app is modeled in a similar way as Facebook Messenger, including photo sharing, video, text, and again,  all the fun and added creativity through stickers, emojis, and the added feature of including attachments. As far as layout and design, again we can see a common look and appeal in the overall aesthetic we've seen across multiple messaging applications. When we consider the design of our Rover Trails Chatroom, we will wan't to consider these apps as a model for reference. Many users stated they prefer this app for video calling considering the privacy compared to using Facebook messenger where it feels like your information are already at risk. 

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A Few Findings

Qualitative:

Users enjoy interaction in a creative chatroom. Personal creativity is expressed by including photo, video, text and graphic features for the user to create their own personal visual message.  User participation is essential and provides a sense of control and customization. Users want to complete a process for scheduling and transactions as easy and as safe as possible. They want the app to be more visual and include images of the animals as a conversation starter. A few users suggested they would love to see a tracking tool and maps included for the trails. One user did not want to have anything to do with being a part of, or interacting with other dog owners from the Rover community. 

Quantitative:

5/5 users want to make or receive updates via messaging and photos

3/5 users want to have direct contact with the dog walkers

5/5 users would love to see videos and photos from their pup's adventure

3/5 users want to have access to ratings and reviews for each dog walker

4/5 users want to know the other dog owners with pups on the same walk

4/5 users love the idea of having a social space to interact with other dog owners

4/5 users want to have direct contact with the dog walkers while they're with their pups

5/5 users want a simple scheduling tool that includes a safe and easy payment process

5/5 users want to participate in creating content, and customizing profiles

4/5 dog owners would use a service like Rover Trails

Rover Trails Proto-Persona

After careful consideration and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from user research, I was able to combine information in order to identify the target market for Rover Trails, and develop a specific persona.

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"I just really enjoy being a part of the dog-lover community. I love the idea of meeting new fur families."

Competitor Analysis

I took the opportunity to look further into industry to see what kind of apps are currently being used for scheduling , messaging, reviews, ratings, and purchasing. I decided to look into one app specifically used for scheduling called Zocdoc, and the others are much closer in relation to Rover as a dog service industry. The Trusted Housesitters provided insight into finding a trusted person, scheduling a service, and paying for it. Overall, I believe I found Wag Labs and Pet Backers to be spot on for providing a model for very similar services as Rover Trails. There was some frustration using Wag Labs, but Pet Backers was almost spot on.

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Rover currently has a great app that just needs to be revisited. Currently, Rover is very icon and graphic based. The layout is very consistent and clean. Rover Trails wishes to add a new visual aspect to it by including imagery, ultimately inspiring the users to engage in the multimedia driven chatroom. As per analysis, Rover hit the mark for each category above which meets the needs and many desires of the user. Rover is also the only app to provide a full range of interactive and multimedia experiences within the chatroom, unlike the competitors.

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Aside from the intense yellow which make this app almost unbearable to read, Zocdoc provides some insight into an app used to check reviews and ratings of doctors in your area. You can also schedule an appointment, you can upload insurance information and customize your profile using an internal photo capture tool, and you can check calendars for any doctor you choose. This app felt extremely convenient since it allows you to start your custom search right away. The biggest frustration was, once you got into the app a bit, it required you to start a profile with an abundance of information required to continue.

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This app gets you started, but then it hits you with all this require information to proceed. It would be nice to know this before I spent too much time getting started. I really love the internal photo capture to upload your ID and insurance cards though!

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This app is very clean and similar to Rover Trails needs. There's lots of side-swipe menus to review ratings as well as the ability to scroll down. There's a nice combination of graphics and imagery used to create a visually appealing aesthetic to the design. You can search professionals, seek prices and ratings, and you can schedule a service. This app does provide the opportunity to contact the specialist directly which was one big bonus.

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Wag was a very fun and creative app which matched Rover almost perfectly.  What I came to realize was this style was almost identical to the Pet Backers' app which was also used for ordering dog services. Wag app offers opportunity to review walkers, schedule and pay for services, and they even offer a fun chatroom that includes a large library of fun and creative puppy related icons and graphics. The one thing I absolutely did not like was the fact Wag gets you started by seeking our search questions to try to help you find exactly what you need, then it hits you! Again, like Zocdoc, you are required to create an account, establish a lengthy profile and answer an abundance of questions to continue your search, when you're so close! This was absolutely frustrating and I stopped using the app as soon as I started to drown.

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Wag Labs Inc

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Pet Backer app has everything Rover Trails wants and needs from overall professional look and appeal, to the desired features for scheduling, purchasing, messaging, and the community chat. Pet Backer also provides the best model for use of graphics, but also works to integrate imagery unlike like the other apps. This app is a great model to use for reference when building our Rover Trails app with the exception of all the cartoons characters they use! 

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User Journey Map for Rover Trails

The concept behind the User Journey Map thus far, consists of 3 main pathways; scheduling an appointment, reviews and dog walkers, and the interactive messaging too, Trails Chatroom. For the prototype, I chose to develop the scheduling tool with full function, providing a simple step-by-step process to log in, quick-launch the calendar, select a date, view the details; time, location and trail map. From there I can proceed to scheduling a pickup. In this next step, I can select my dog size and proceed to pay my bill. I receive immediate access to a confirmation page and the option of returning to home, or speaking with my walker.

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Low Fidelity Designs

Low fidelity designs are the skeleton, the wire frame, the placeholders for content to be placed into. I like to think of these designs as practically finished, or nearly done. The fun part is plugging in the visuals. I've enjoyed learning new software programs like Lucidchart.com. This software has been great for building both wire frames, and the User Journey Maps above. Both are essential tools for the design process.

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Low to High

Start to finish! I like seeing the random quick sketches, rough proportion and all, built into a strong wire frame, and then birthed into this complete visual with all this personality and influence. It's interesting how much refinement is still yet to be done.

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High Fidelity Designs

This all happened so fast and rather than only build out 3 screens, I wanted to see my User Journey Map become a full on User Experience! There was so much feedback coming in while I was editing and making changes, but the process is ongoing. This project would need more time to revisit design, and fine tune things to meet and match proper menus, buttons, and styles. For cranking out a massive design in such a short period of time, and then having time to make changes, these came together nicely. I'd like to see the whole design improved overall, but the design came together and we were able to test it!

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"It feels really good to see everything come together!"

Prototype

In a short few weeks, after working backwards and then forward again, we've come to develop our first prototype demonstrating the scheduling process from the User Journey Map. This is a step by step as the user logs in to schedule a pickup for their pup to hit the beautiful trails. The function is in the beginning stages and there are two additional pathways that would still need to be developed; 

"I really like the concept, but the layout is in the early stage of development."

The Challenge

When it comes to the process we took to develop ideas for a brand extension, the biggest challenge came from working backwards. We started by launching a press release ranting and raving about our product. Originally with the Domino's Design Sprint, we spent time understanding a need, or a problem we wanted to solve. By conducting user research we were able to quickly cancel out the solutions that didn't really meet a need. With this process, working backwards, it wasn't until later I realized there are so many similar concepts already in place. I found multiple companies that provide similar services as Rover does, and who were all using very similar tools to assist the process from a mobile device. The biggest challenge I faced launching this press release first, was the lack of time to research. It was time consuming developing an idea and then writing about it so quickly. The press release felt like an opportunity to really get creative with the concept, which in turn, ended up being too big to tackle (after critique) so refinements were necessary immediately before the project could move further. With the project under a pressing schedule, I learned a lot about making decisions quickly which is challenging since I prefer to really think through things rather than throw ideas out there and jump to execute them. To me this feels a little fast paced, something I need more practice at. Generating ideas in a field I've never worked in before can be intimidating, and I'm not sure the process is providing me enough time, or maybe it's actually forcing me to make decisions which could get things rolling faster.

Most Valuable Lesson Learned

I believe the most valuable lesson I'm learning throughout this process is the fact that I really need to understand more about design and layout. I've come to realize at my age I've been seeing things differently, and my style is a little dated. The nice thing is, there are plenty of resources available to really develop newer and more advanced styles for mobile design. Since I've never done this before, it was truly hard to tackle every aspect from research, project concepts, design, and execution, all while having enough time to make sure everything looked perfect to hit the market today. Clearly, in a classroom setting things are being completed in a short amount of time, all while trying to wrap my head around something new like interactive design. I have lots to read to help move the design to the next level so it looks clean, fluid, and modern.