Laika Thumbnail.png

Laika

My experience leading the UX design of an app that helps connect adopters with foster homes awaiting animal adoption. Laika was awarded the Grand Prize at Design360, a 16-hour hackathon hosted at IIIT, Delhi.

Laika Banner - Updated.png

Project Deliverables
User Interface (Mobile)
Branding Identity

My Role
UI/UX Design
Wireframing
Contextual Inquiry

Project Context
🏆 Grand Prize Winner
Summer 2017 — 16 hours
Team: Devansh Gandhi, Chaitanya Vaish, Manav Aggarwal


Design Prompt

Millions of animals are currently in shelters and foster homes awaiting adoption. Information about state of such shelters is not available easily and hence prospective adopters are not aware about such foster homes many times. It is also not easy for adopters to find a pet which matches their lifestyle, for there are multiple factors to consider like breed, gender, age, temperament, health status among various other while making this decision. Build a solution to tackle this problem.

Chaitanya and I going through the prompt right before we hit the ground running.

Chaitanya and I going through the prompt right before we hit the ground running.


Research

Since this was a hackathon project, we were very time constrained. We started off by carrying out a semi-structured and informal contextual inquiry with my dog’s veterinarian to learn a little more about the market of pets and adoption. Some of the key takeaways from the conversation were that there is a big gap to bridge between shelters and adopters. Additionally, especially in India, there are a lot of stray dogs that unfortunately never make it to shelter homes and are left abandoned. There are people willing to adopt them, but don’t have access to information about missing pets. We needed to design a solution that allows people looking for a pet to explore available options near them, and also allows them to report missing pets in the vicinity that could potentially be adopted.

Affinity diagram for Laika based on secondary research.

Affinity diagram for Laika based on secondary research.

Some rough doodles and notes before diving into visual design.

Some rough doodles and notes before diving into visual design.


Wireframes and Initial Design

Given the limited time frame, I cruised through sketching some low-fidelity wireframes for how our solution could possibly work:

Laika Low Fidelity

Visual Design

Quick enough, it was time to delve into Sketch and start working on the visual design and branding for Laika. Here are some of the key screens and elements I designed for the user interaction, in addition to Laika’s branding identity:

Laika Flow 1.png
Laika Flow 2.png
Laika Typeface.png
Laika Colors.png
Laika’s branding identity. Logo alongside the wordmark.

Laika’s branding identity. Logo alongside the wordmark.


Presenting

Time passes quickly at hackathons! I spent most of my time designing the user interface and within a few hours, it was already time to present on the big stage. I hadn’t slept in over 14 hours and was nervous presenting alongside 50 other teams, but since we were confident with our solution, I just stepped up to the stage. Boom. Steve Jobs mode on. Showtime.

Chaitanya and Manav control the demo while I present on stage.

Chaitanya and Manav control the demo while I present on stage.

Presentation was good. We seemed to have gotten a good response from the audience as well as the jury. They asked us questions about some of our design decisions and I was able to answer those. I finally had some time to myself before the results were announced. Time for a quick nap!


Reflection and Outcome

Laika was awarded the Grand Prize! We were stoked. Working for hours on end without getting sleep was worth it. Here are some of my key learnings from the experience of working on this project with my team: Know your judges. If a hackathon is design-focused, your visual design is crucial, even if your idea is mediocre. Especially when you are competing against other teams that are building a solution for the same problem, there’s a good chance that ideas might conflict, and that’s when strong visual design makes your solution stand out. At a hackathon, it’s best to start with visual design during early stages of your process. This makes the communication between designers and engineers much smoother. You can prepare your developer handoff as you progress making different screens of the interaction. Finally, a solid presentation can outweigh a not-so-solid idea. Your presentation is your chance to tell your story. Preparing a strong pitch deck to present your idea can take it from 0 to 1. If you are not confident about your idea, prepare a presentation like Steve Jobs.

Winning moment. So many prizes but only a limited pair of hands!

Winning moment. So many prizes but only a limited pair of hands!