Marc Tessier





UX Researcher

UX/UI Designer


10 weeks – 2020


Pen + Paper, Sketch,

Adobe Photoshop, Invision

Found is a GPS pet finding app with a communal twist. It allows you to recruit the help of your community if you are not able to reach your pet.

Design Challenge

The challenge was to tackle a problem space of our choosing, and then plan, research, and design a digital solution that solved that problem using user experience tools and techniques.

This challenge was my Capstone project from the full time UX Design program at BrainStation in Toronto. A solo project that allowed me to use every skill I had acquired throughout the course. During this process, I learned how to move from Defining the Problem, to Research and Strategy, to Synthesis, to Ideation, and then to Prototyping.


1. IOS or Android compatible

2. Only 10 weeks to complete alone

3. Actually learning about UX/UI while completing the project

Defining the Problem

Problem Space

Years ago I worked at a pet store and spent my time running around dressed liked Steve Irwin. I had spent a lot of time driving back and forth to vets and the Humane Society in Winnipeg, and noticed that the Humane Society often seemed overcrowded with animals, to the point where they even had to move to a larger location. I had also seen a change at the pet store where we phased out puppies and kittens, and only accepted older cats and dogs to help with the growing numbers flooding shelters. These pets were a mix of stray, surrendered, and lost.

Key Research Insights


1. There is an overcrowding of cats and dogs in animal shelters.

2. Not enough shelter pet adoption.

3. Pet owners are not educated about proactive/active measures for dealing with lost pets

4. Pet owners need a fast and convenient way of finding their pet.


I was originally heading in the direction of directly solving the overcrowding issue in pet shelters, but upon further research, I found out I was wrong about the facts. Turns out that this was mainly an issue in the US, not so much in Canada (anymore). It's actually a common misconception that our shelters are overcrowded. Over here in the North, we have implemented some amazing strategies to reduce breeding and increase adoptions. This made me happy, but sad that I had to move away from working with the Humane Society directly.

Since I noticed that there is still a lost pet issue, I decided to focus my attention on the pet owners.

Research + Synthesis

Research Plan

1. Conduct user interviews

2. Synthesize interview insights to create personas

3. Use personas to create a journey map

4. Find intervention opportunities in the journey map

5. Market research analysis

6. Prototyping

Key Interview Insights

Participant Criteria: Pet owners that had lost a cat or dog for at least an hour.

Losing a pet is an emotional and confusing experience, and most people are not proactive enough to deal with the situation effectively when it happens. They would prefer to do it by themselves, but if needed, would like help from their community to accelerate the search, in order to have their pet returned as soon as possible.

Personas + Journey Map

Opportunities for Intervention

HMW Question

How might we facilitate the confusing and stressful process of finding lost pets for pet owners?


At this point I decided to focus on a GPS pet tracking app. If a pet owner knows where their pet is at any moment, this would highly reduce the number of lost pets, and the owner’s stress.

But what is you’re not near your pet? Maybe you are way across town at work, or on vacation.

Then what do you do? The app should have a feature that shares the pet’s location with the user’s community.

Market Research

Looking at competing GPS trackers online, I noticed that although a couple of them had "family sharing", which meant they could access the location of the same pet, they unfortunately could only do it on the app itself.

My app would be designed for emergency situations. In which case, friends and family members might not keep the app on their phone for long, or even download it at all. A big opportunity here is to offer "family sharing" off of the app.

Over the course of prototyping, I also looked at parallel apps for inspiration (Google Maps, Life 360, Find my iPhone).

Added Constraints

1. Not everyone will have a smartphone

This could be due to financial reasons or lack of interest and need. This refers to the friends and family of the primary user. Contact directly through the app might not be possible for some.

2. “One time use app”

This app is only useful in the moment. Most of the time, it won’t be needed. Also, other than the pet owner, people are most likely not going to want to download the app in the off chance the pet owner needs help. On average, mobile apps lose 77% of their daily average users within the first three days after download.

Value Proposition

Fast and convenient way of finding your pet

(GPS tracking collar)

Community engagement when in need

(LOST mode that allows you to quickly connect with your friends and family, and share your pet’s location with them via Google Maps)


Features Ideation

  • I need this app to do two things for users: track their pet, and engage the community for help if needed. After conducting research into pet owner behaviours, as well as similar apps, I landed on these key features to explore.

  • Primary features

1. Tracking via GPS + Bluetooth + Wifi technology

2. Create a geofence

3. Notify their community about the lost pet

4. Quickly and easily contact their community

Task Selection

  1. 1. Create geofence

2. Activate Lost mode and call a friend

First task, creating a geofence, is the hero feature. Without it, the app wouldn't be the same. It's what notifies the owner about an escape. Unless you constantly look at your phone, your cat or dog could still get away. The geofence offers a fast and convenient way of finding your pet.

Second task, the feature that promotes community engagement, is the Lost mode. This mode quickly notifies trusted contacts about the whereabouts of the pet. To allow the user's contacts to have access to the pet's location without having to download the app, they receive a link to a private Google map accessible on the web, and password protected. Through Lost mode, you have the ability to contact them via text or call straight from the app.

User Stories

User Flows

Initial Sketches

*Not in order

I wanted a clean map view since this is a map based app, therefore I hid everything in the hamburger menu.


  1. 1. Create a geofence
  2. 2. Time passes and user receives notification that their pet escaped from a geofence
  3. 3. Activate the Lost mode and call a friend for help

Digital Prototype 1

*In this version, activating Lost mode sent a notification to the user's Facebook friends through Messenger. Messenger also allows users to location share. Originally I thought you could share the pet's location as well, but as it turned out, only Facebook users can location share.

So, I had the idea of periodically sending friends an image with the pet's location. But this had major downfalls. I quickly pivoted in the next prototype.

Overall Major Opportunities

Rough navigation

Poor Lost mode strategy


Kill the hamburger menu and tab bar

Change Facebook friends to list of chosen contacts

Digital Prototype 2

In this version, I pivoted away from Facebook in Lost mode, and the user would simply add contacts to the app. Notifications would be sent by text and email, with a link to a secured private Google map accessible on the web.

Major Opportunities

Inconsistent tab bar

Activation notification too long

Can't edit notification or choose contacts before sending


Consistent tab bar

Shorten notification

Option to edit notification to contacts

Option to choose whom you contact in Lost mode

Digital Prototype 3


Fixed all the issues from the previous version.

Streamlined the geofence creation to be all on one page.

  • Up to code with Android standards.
  • Cleaner, softer UI to match a calm vibe I wanted.


Brand Identity

Words + Colors + Moodboard


I chose words that were positive, happy, calming. Having a pet run away is a stressful situation, so I wanted look and feel of the app to visually reduce anxiety. I wanted the user to know that, everything will be ok.


Soft blurred backgrounds, pastel colors, zen-like vibe. That feeling after you just had wicked yoga session.

Brand Colors

Blue and cream (with an orange undertone)

Blue is the most calming color. Very beneficial for mind and body. It also represents loyalty, and this saturation, it has a somewhat playful effect.

Cream (with an orange undertone) is a quiet and relaxing color offering a smidgen of warmth.

Logo + Wordmark +

Application Icon

*Top – Final

*Bottom – Some iteration work



Comfortaa Bold

Soft, round, fluffy, pillowy


Brand colors

Imitates soft, blurry, calming visual of the moldboard


I first landed on the name "Astray". But people thought the name sounded too negative. Also, people read it as "ashtray". Finally, I changed it to "Found". Sounded more positive.



My first choice was silhouette, but I couldn't have only 1 animal or the app seemed like it was either only for cats, or dogs. Both silhouettes together seemed too cluttered.


Landed on a circle (abstract collar), that faded at one corner, but you could tell it was completed. It represents the lost pet's journey from home and back again. They may fade out of site, but they'll be back.

Final Prototype


Major Changes

Fuller map (covers most of the page)

2 ways to access each main task for flexibility of use

Added fab to quickly access main tasks

Pet profile moved from tab bar to pull up tab

– Similar to the "Find my Iphone app" (familiar to users)

Marketing Website

Taking into account the pain points experienced by pet owners, and my value proposition, I created a marketing website to advertise Found. Transferring over the same calm tone and cool colours painted in the app.



Alternative Platform -

Apple Watch

Through a quick 3 hour sprint, we had to translate our mobile app into another platform that made sense for our personas.

Since this was an emergency-type app where the user will be running around, I chose the small and convenient Apple Watch.

I chose to show the directions feature since I didn't show it in my mobile app.

I read reviews that Google Maps on such a small screen can be difficult to read. So, I made sure to add maximum map space, and hide the tab bar (swipe up for access) and the pet profile.

Also because of the small screen, people are more likely to use the directions feature in order to orient themselves easily without having to constantly zoom in and out.

Pet icon

Light tap = pet profile

Forced tap = directions

Business Model Canvas

*This model revolves mostly around the main customer segment of pet owners.

I can’t always think design, I also have to think business. This business model canvas gives a glimpse at the design/business intersection and details how the money would flow in and out, as well as what we do, for whom, and how.

Within a real world project, this may be done earlier on, but for this assignment we had only touched on the business side later in the design process.


Key Learnings

Next Steps + Future Thinking

In the last two and a half months, I had solved the problem I had set out to conquer, but, new problems always arise. What if the collar came off or the GPS battery died? You would have no way to track your pet, and you would be back to square one. This was an issue that no other app had tackled.

One thing that eventually came up, regarding cats more specifically, they are always climbing, jumping around, exploring, so collars have evolved to have a quick release in case it gets caught. This prevents the cat from choking, but, it also loses the collar. Then what does one do?

I had tackled this lightly by including a section in the pet profile with your pet’s microchip number (if they have one), and the app could send you periodic notifications to update your information.

Another solution that I added was a tracking history. This could be used to look at your pet’s hotspots/trails, and the general area and direction they were going in up to the point where contact was lost.

To go even further, I want to add the option to simply click one button, and your pet’s profile will be sent to all lost pet databases, vet clinics, and shelters within your region, as well as a social media blast. I also know from working at a pet shop that there is an issue with pet theft, and these pets often end up on websites like Kijiji and Craigslist. So another feature would be to add facial/nose recognition that quickly scans through pet listing on all platforms.

Currently, pet owners that do not have a tracking device, have to contact each database, vet, and shelter separately. They also have to send a message across different social media platforms one at a time, which takes an enormous amount of time and effort, especially when they are stressed and full of anxiety. 

I want this app to be a one stop shop for lost pet owners!

Another next step (kind of a pivot) would be to track the pet's activities and vitals. A kind of Fitbit for cats and dogs. Know when they sleep, know when run, check for any irregularities that could be potential health concerns. This would turn the app from a "one use app" to an app that can be used on the daily.

I have much more to say about how the app/device could evolve in the future, so don't hesitate to ask! For example, at one point I was thinking instead of using a GPS tracker that hooked onto the collar (like all others), it would be a GPS patch that could charge using the pet's own body heat. You would never have to worry about charging it or the collar falling off. But, wherever it lay on the body (most likely the top because of GPS signals, the pet would essentially be bald in that area. Soooooo, I scratched that. But I'm always researching and ideating!

So many ideas. So little time.