by Patryk Adaś

Design for doggies

Education should be universal and free for everyone.

When I first entered the field, designers were patient with me. They gave me feedback on my work. They shared helpful articles and videos. They pointed me in the right direction. Without their help, I never would have gotten where I am today.

When I reached a point in my career where I could afford to give back, I decided to host some free product design workshops that were open to the public.

First, I created an outline that divided up the task of designing a product across three meetings. Then I shared the event on Facebook and waited to see if anyone was interested in coming.

My goal was to approach problems individually and, at the same time, analyze them within a given system. We would then ask questions, think critically, design, draw, and most importantly, prototype. We’d keep repeating the entire process, and place our names on the footer of every page we created.

I also promised to refreshments (which would involve more than just a sad desk lunch).

Interest in this event greatly exceeded my expectations. What I originally thought would be a simple, cosy gathering turned out to be a bit more.

30 people showed up for the first workshop — each with their own technical background and experience level.

I divided them into two groups of 15 so we could simulate working as designers in a small company.

I’m passionate about dogs, animal shelters, and virtual adoptions, so I designated this as the focus of the product. There are many people who want to have a dog, but cannot have one for various reasons. At that moment, I could not find any site which could connect these people with the growing number of foundations and animal shelters.

The goal of these workshops was to design this product in the context of a small company, and create an artifact that developers could potentially flesh out into a real product.

Look at this beautiful fellow

During the first workshop, we discussed the product design and the interface itself. We tried to reconcile abstract design concepts with reality (i.e. login forms with front doors). We also tried to define the features of a perfect interaction with a machine. We found out that users are drunk.

We put the emphasis on the context. Our creativity should be expressed by a fine balance between our goals and the means used to achieve them.

The first workshop’s full presentation is available here.

We established a target market and devised a solution that could meet the expectations of the market. So many ideas flowed out. Many were questionable, but that’s fine when you’re brainstorming:

  • chat online with a vet
  • pets gallery
  • blog about dogs
  • adoption ads
  • online booking for walks
  • virtual cemetery for dogs (?)
  • dog catering
  • Uber for dog hairdressers
  • fostering dogs during their owner’s absence
  • virtual concept store for dogs
  • social media for dogs
  • online cam from shelter
  • walk together! social walks
  • temporary adoption
  • hug a dog
  • services base for dog owners
  • dog therapists
  • rent-a-dog
  • virtual buddy
  • exclusive dogs Tinder (?)
  • dogpooling
  • find my dog
  • send your dog to a trainer

We chose two ideas that occurred most frequently, and we started to build our product based on these: A book-a-dog-for-a-walk along with “upsell” adoption.

We kept in mind the need for future functionality and tried to anticipate the process of developing our platform. Our group turned out to have two developers and a CEO (whatever he was supposed to do). We then moved on to the sitemap.

This…

I’ve gone ahead and zoomed in on the most important element for you 🐶

…ultimately became this…

…then it’d become this:

At the second workshop, we discussed the basic types of layouts and the process of creating wireframes and sketches. We adopted a pragmatic approach that strongly focused on context.

It turned out that the designing of products is a process within a process within a process.

The second workshop’s full presentation is available here.

With a clear vision of our product, we could then start creating wireframes.

We started with the basic profile of a dog. We designed a desktop, mobile, full, empty, error, and partial screen. This was everything we needed.

Inspired by this post, we designed lots of layouts and, after some intense discussion, choose one of them as a team.

We brought out one version initially which was minimalistic and easy to develop. We used a variety of our favorite to create mockup — InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketch and even straight in HTML/CSS. Our work demonstrated how the technology itself is secondary and should not be treated as a religion.

After two meetings, we reached a fairly competent level. We knew a lot, and we had ideas to develop over the next few months. Of course, we would need to continually adjust them to suit ever-changing realities.

We prepared the rest of the sites at home.

The results of our work were varied. For some people, it was their first contact with these kinds of software.

I summarized the homework and created mockups of our sites based upon our findings.

It’s not the best thing ever, but it’s not the point. Its main purpose is to validate the idea, and fast.

For our third meeting, we moved on to prototypes. We talked about all the things we could gain from having an interactive artifact that we could show people.

We settled on using InVision. We also used Framer to add a little spice. Then we set to work bringing our product to life. No magic here. Just teamwork.

We set out to clearly display the dynamics of the site, and keep things within a proper context.

The third workshop’s full presentation is available here.

Over the course of these three three-hour meetings, we created a product which could potentially be brought to market and help dogs all over the world.

And if you like this product idea, feel free to build it yourself.

The project and presentations I shared here are all available under Creative Commons 4.0.

I would like to thank everyone for coming to the meetings and a special thanks to our coworking space for sparing a room.

Again, here are links to the presentations: 1 2 3