Google Design Exercise: Solving the shelter problem

Millions of animals are currently in shelters and foster homes awaiting adoption. Design an experience that will help connect people looking for a new pet with the right companion for them. Help an adopter find a pet which matches their lifestyle, considering factors including breed, gender, age, temperament, and health status. Provide a high-level flow and supporting wire frames.


No need to be tidy at this point

Finding the problem

Before we start solving anything we should take a look at the issue at hand and break it down to its root cause(s).

  • “Old dogs can’t get used to new owners, and will never be as loyal as a dog you had since it was a puppy.”
  • “Old dogs are hard to train, and cannot unlearn their old (and bad) habits.”
  • “Dogs in shelters are unhealthy.”
  • “Shelters are dirty and the animals there are unhappy and I don’t want an unhappy pet”
  • Puppies are harder to train than old dogs. They claw, bark, bite and chew all the time. Old dogs are long past this phase and are a lot calmer.
  • On top of that, older dogs are already potty trained and even know basic tricks.
  • Dogs from shelters are generally healthier because they get medical checks very often.
  • Old animals already show their true personality. A puppy can become very different years after you buy it. (which is often the reason why they end up in shelters)
  • Adopting from shelters is usually cheaper, even if you don’t get the animal for free. When buying from a shop, the medical costs will be higher than the adoption cost at a shelter, where the medical costs are already included.

Solving the problem

Keeping these things in mind, I decided on the following mission statement.

  1. Help people find a pet that fits them perfectly
  2. Dispel the myths regarding shelters and shelter animals
  3. Highlight the advantages shelters have over shops

Sketches and wireframes

The needed features, actions and pieces of information were already pretty clear after the phases above, so I could jump straight into a quick sketch to map out the user flow. I tried to put in all the features I was planning, and most of it already felt logical at this point.

  • Explore
  • Favorites
  • Contact (contains messages and appointments)



High fidelity

Stretch goal

The exercise said to design this as if it was an actual Google product. While not exactly part of the app, if I actually was designing this app for Google as a Google employee, I would also try to achieve our goals by leveraging other parts of Google’s massive ecosystem.



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Pol Kuijken

Pol Kuijken


Co-founder and product design at Circuit. Formerly Runtastic & Google. More at