Paw Capital is a mobile application that addresses dog rehoming increase as a resultant of the impact the cost of living crisis is having on dog owners within the United Kingdom. The development of Paw Capital attempts to tackle the current inflation of dog's being given up through rescue centres as a resultant of financial instability. Breaking down costs and understanding only the companions expenditure provides meaningful function with simple yet coherent design choices tailored to fit the lifestyle of both the owners and dogs needs.
I created Paw Capital, a finance-based mobile application which facilitates dog owners with the ability to view their pets relative expenditure broken down and simplified for total awareness of pricing. Boasting features of product price comparison, independant dog savings pots, and insights of costs as the three integral systems that bring the app to life. Overall, Paw Capital brings clear awareness to dog relative expenditure which limits and comparatively enables the user to make decisions based on personal needs; deterring the need to rehome their furry companion in many cases.
Whilst this could be shortened to simply caring about dog welfare, it would be doing the wider issue diservice. Paw Capital began with a simple observation of the current cost of living crisis within the UK; with large financial instability across the nation (Fig.1) it became apparent that this is what I wanted to branch my ideation off.
Thus I started to look into the consequences of financial instability and found myself discovering the current pet rehoming situation, whereby rehoming services like DogsTrust were receiving an inflated amount of dogs to which there was a huge decline of people being able to adopt due to financial instability.
When I first deduced that there was a problem with dog, and general pet, welfare throughout the cost of living crisis I had to really define the facts. Undergoing the process of constructing three data visuals, from reputable sources, that present financial instability of dog owners as a consequence of the cost of living crisis.
After establishing that the cost of living crisis had a huge impact on dog, and general pet, owners from late 2022 onwards, this opened up the need to define what relative stakeholders thought about the situation and the desires for potential designable solutions. This being conducted whilst now pre-emptively being able to empathise with the product price inflation and general attached expenditure rising imminently (e.g vet bills).
Despite creating data visuals to improve the validation to curate a designable solution, it is almost pointless to design without understanding the way in which the people affected respond. Understanding any needs and desires would make the digital product more reliable and improve desirability to use.
Despite creating data visuals to improve the validation to curate a designable solution, it is almost pointless to design without understanding the way in which the people affected respond. Reddit opens up the ability to comunicate to specific audiences within the sub-reddit scene, and being able to converse on a relatble level. Therefore, I utilised the 'AskUK' sub-reddit to initiate random respondant data towards the question: How has the cost of living crisis impacted the costs associated with your dog?
The respondants accumulatively fell within three brackets:
What is the verdict?
The cost of living crisis is very visible from the respondant data, all participants were based in the United Kingdom which validates the issue; having a great intensity of financial instability among dog owners. Although the respondants were random, it is still difficult to assume that the financial instability is influenced by area of living. Overall the respondants showed a clear notion of price inflation for dog produce and vet bills, the inability to find cheaper alternatives, and lack of financial awareness.
Thus, the inflation of general dog expenditure, inability to find cheaper alternatives, and a lack of financial awareness is a resultant of the cost of living crisis; validating the need for a designable financially relative solution.
Although I was able to obtain respondant data, validating the impact the cost of living crisis is having on dog owners, I needed to define the desirable solutions a user may want. My hypothesis at this stage is that dog owners who live within lower-mid income areas, within the United Kingdom, will face harsher financial instability. To prove, or redefine, this I constructed questions contextually and on the desirable design based assets users appropriate within a financial based digital tool.
Conducted on Google meet, I summarized the interviewees data in more readable manner to assist the design procedure I had undertook:
This is my summarised version of the full data retrieved from the interviewees, however, as per my hypothesis I found that dog owners who lived within low and mid income experience financial stress with their dog related expenditure.
Vet bills and medical care were the most expensive parts of owning a dog, but there was a clear inflation of dog produce as well. Participants would like to see a digital financial tool within the mobile viewpoint for convenience and ease of access. Alongside this, the participants would like to be able to save money, compare prices, and ultimately see expenditure breakdown of their dogs costs.
The user group interviewed provided insightful data towards existing products they are currently using for financial reasons. To further support the design process, I gathered three mobile based finance applications that the interviewees suggested and interrogated the strengths and weaknesses to create a more rational approach to my own products design.
The hypothesis going into the competitor analysis was that: there would be no other financial application which helps to exclusively break down the costs associated with dog related expenditure, nor would the three applications be able to compare dog expenditure tailored to the users needs.
The following document was constructed to summarize the analysis conducted:
As per my hypothesis, all three mobile applications analysed provide good insights towards finacial breakdown. Wagestream exclusively allows a user to take out money prior to salaries to perhaps assist in any necessary financial predicaments.
Whilst all of the applications are popular, the premise of my financial mobile product is to exclusively assist dog owners with expense awareness and comparative pricing solutions. None of these applications achieve that but rather help to assist the way finance should be broken down in an efficent and user-friendly way. The analysis conducted, therefore, enacts as a supporting mechanism for design thought.
A summary chart detailing the design goals responding towards the user needs.
At this stage I begin to conceptualise the design, sketching and constructing user flow systems to support the entirety of the design stage.
Within the beginning of the design stage, I initially looked to define how the user would be able to navigate and interact their way within the application. This was mainly conducted through the use of a user flow diagram deconstructing how each partition/user need would connect together, enabling more rational and decisive choices when designing the interfaces.
The user flow architecture looks purely at the functionality of each feature. Thereafter, the form will take place as each function is constructed. Changes to feature names had been implemented at this stage:
- Compare = My Products
- Insights = Breakdown
After demonstrating the user flow diagram, I constructed three short diagrams to summarise how each functions algorithm would work within the prototype. This was a key part to allow consumers to fully understand the utility of the digital product.
My products is essentially the heart of the digital product. It is where the user is enabled to compare current products on the basis of tailoring similar products to the current one being used. The algorithm works as follows:
This system allows convenience to flourish. When signing up to the application and linking a card, the user would not have to go through the process of adding each individual dog product within their logs. Instead the application does this automatically.
Savings is relatively easy to understand, however, the way in which the process of depositing/withdrawing can occur may be difficult to acknowledge initially. Thus, the function works as follows:
Seamless depositing and withdrawals from linked cards within the digital product.
Insights is the intent of the digital product. Providing financial awareness within a click of a button. Likewise, how does the feature work behind the scenes:
The feature utilises linked cards efficiently by grasping any dog related costs and applying the data relevant to each category. Showing which category has more expenses attached within them.
Before entering the design process of the three integral features, I had to create the brain of the application. The dashboard is the central hub. It is the main place in which the user begins any form of navigation to view whatever part of finance they desire.
Pre-emptively, the login/sign-up page is attached to the function of logging in, therefore I did not have to construct an entire sign-up page for this particular prototype.
From the start I wanted to prioritise comfort and convenience in the users navigation, as well as, a clear narrative for the application being a dog relative financial tool. I wanted all of the features to be identifiable from the landing page. Within the following designs I constructed a simple widget system that would have represent the key features, clickable, but also accompanied by a bottom menu.
Within the designing phase, I utilised Figma to construct the low-fidelity frames for the mobile applications viewport. Whilst the primary focus for this stage is the Dashboard, I created frames for the intial application start-up to show my user focus group how the digital system would work.
The diagram details my design choices based on the user focus groups feedback on most desired assets. The next stage details a more illustrative and functional setting.
The gif above demonstrates the functionality of the prototype. In the flow setting provided, the user begins at the start of the app and navigates themselves towards the landing page, the dashboard.
Despite not spending a large amount of time within this section of the digital tool, it still ended up as a success. This was largely demonstrated by the users feelings towards the app having the atmosphere attributed within a financial tool. The application was universally seen as simple and minimalsitic, demonstrated by both the colour palette and the incorporation of the widget system.
With success came subtle needs for improvement. The typography could have been smaller within the headers and the widget system should allow for complete control for the user to really make it their own dashboard. Despite these subtle indifferences, the dashboard and start-up provided myself with knowledge of importance in setting the scene for a users experience as soon as the application is loaded.
After constructing the Dashboard, I began the design process for the comparison tool (earlier redefined as My Products). The tool took the longest time to construct as it took the form of being fully functional, much of the work conducted within the entirety of the digital tool had taken this form but slowly became static in other areas to compensate for time management.
This was the initial demonstration of what I wanted the design to be based on my user groups input. The interviewees gave a lot of freedom to design as long as it had accomplished the role of a comparison tool and was as fluid as possible in the interaction. Below I state the design choices made within the features.
I created the illustration, below, to demonstrate the design choices alongside the features I wanted to implement on the basis of the user focus groups input.
Whilst the majority of the designs were satisfactory, the clear problem was to find a way to incorporate both price match and product alternatives comparison tools. As such, the coalition of the two is demonstrated within the low-fidelity wireframing stage.
The low-fidelity design phase for my products was likewise conducted within Figma. By creating multiple components I was able to really grasp the blueprint for the way in which I wanted the feature to function. The comparison tool was also developed within one frame was opposed to two from the initial sketches.
As demonstrated earlier, the one big issue was distinguishing how the comparison tool would work together without the need for two sections within one area. The component was developed so that both tools would work in unison, provided the product lisitng tool could give both lower cost products, tailored towards currently used products, and the viewability of price matching currently used products as well.
Post-establishing what the blueprint is for the prototype, I began to construct the feature within Figma. I utilised dog food as the product comapred to portray how the feature would function for other categories within the dog realm of items. The prototype is shown below, demonstrating how the product is navigated and how the function fits within the overall digital application.
The Final product is demonstrated below.
Overall I was able to really grasp a comparison tool that accomplishes saving money in dog relative expenditure. Despite its convenience and easy navigation, Toria felt that there was a need for a filtering system to assist those who have their dogs on restrictive care. I felt that it was something I had to include but faced the stresses of time management, the filtering system would be a total game changer as much as Joseph's suggestion to create more detailed headers for categories.
After constructing my products, I swiftly began constructing the savings account system. This system is designed to allow consumers to be able to deposit money within their Paw Capital account and then also withdraw into one of the linked cards. The feature was a desirable asset by the user focus group but also a niche add-on to the overall digital tool. Users would want to use it on both the basis of saving money for dog dedicated expenditure and interest rates that simply give additional money per month.
The consumer should be able to swiftly deposit and withdraw money when conducting either form of transaction. My primary focus within this section was to make the process simple and seamless, with transactions only being able to be conducted through the Paw Capital and linked credit/debit cards.
Following the same protocol, I looked to gain user feedback on the initial designs to make a judgement on how to move forward. Much like the Dashboard design process, the savings feature did not take a large amount of to construct since it was a desirable add-on as opposed to a definitive feature attributed to the overall financial digital tool.
Gaining the user groups feedback allowed myself to carry these changes forward and implement them as much as possible. The following wireframing demonstrates the changes made and the blueprint for the high-fidelity prototyping phase of the feature.
As I move towards creating the high-fidelity prototype, the savings homepage was commented on by the interviewees. This was a key frame to focus on and the design choices are demonstrated below that develops the initial sketch interation.
The following image folio demonstrates the final outcome. The design follows the blueprint of the low-fidelity iterations and represents a savings account feature that is both seamless and simple to utilise.
Overall the savings feature was successful in creating an easy-to-use climate for depositing and withdrawing transactions. Although there could have been more detail icorporated within the transaction history tabs, it still provided essential reference information. The niche feature assists dog owners in being able to store money and later withdraw whenever desired, with interest rates providing additional money to assist with whatever expenditure is conducted by the consumer.
Another essential point for the design process, I had to provide more emphasis on the interest rates within the savings feature. This was a fundamental reasoning for users to even utilises the feature in the first place. Communication in app should have been provided for the interest rates opposed to just mentioning within the interviewee feedback meetings.
Alongside 'My Products', the most important part of the application was to create financial awareness that brings forward the users attention to habits and causes of high expenditure that needs to be lowered in order to maintain a healthy lifestly for both dog and owner. Insights looks to accomplish this and takes the same iterative design process utilised for all sections of design.
The aim of 'Insights' is to provide financial awareness to expenditure habits relative to dog expenses. This was conducted by creating transaction analysis. This feature is placed within the 'insights' feature but is the most fundamentally important partition to it.
Following the same protocool used throughout the design process, I got feedback from my user focus group. The illustration below summarises the thoughts on the initial sketch made and the room for refinements. As this was the last feature I designed, I made more static visuals in order to stay within time constraints. Nevertheless, the outcome was functional.
After accumulating the feedback, I iterated the secondary design with emphasis on information hierarchy and structure. Specifically focusing on making interaction easier when using a mobile device. Therefore, I constructed the following designs with a more refined infrastructure.
I swiftly moved onto creating the blueprint established. The user group had not had any complaints at this point and wanted to see the final outcome. In which they gave their final words on after the following prototype.
Knowing the climate of the cost of living crisis and the effect it is having on dog owners, I understand that my design and prototype has displayed exceptional quality in assisting financial awareness in a formidable and visibly coherent manner. Nevertheless, I could have refined the design further by creating an advice system on what category of expense to directly pay attention to for the users. The whole design process for the 'insights' page was fluid and shaped the application, linking all three features together, especially the comparison tool and the insights features.
Overall the application became solidified by the way in which all features worked together to provide as much financial awareness and comparative assistance that it could. The comparison tool alongside the insights feature were essentially siblings, they worked by telling the user that your expenditure is high in one area and the products that are costing the most can be monitored from the monthly breakdown to easily comparing that same product on the comparison tool for cheaper rates and tailored alternatives.
Despite the upsides there was room for improvement outisde of the timeframe. The application could be improved by adding certain elements described below.
In a more ideal world I would have personally wanted to expand the application to more than just dogs. This being said the majority of pet owners within the UK are primarily dog carers, however, it is not just dogs affected. I believe by expanding the project I would have been able to get more users to test the application with granting a more reliable feedback source.
This is the end of the project page. As long as it was, thank you for reading and sitting through it. Overall it was a large project and I hope you loved my rationale for creating a solution to a problem and a useful digital outiside of its specific intent.