An iOS mobile app designed to connect and support grieving pet owners

Navigating grief is hard.

It’s even harder when it doesn’t align with society’s expectations of grief. There are no funerals, memorial services, or obituaries to help us cope with the death of a beloved pet. But research shows that social support is essential for recovery during the grieving process. And sharing the painful experience of losing a pet with someone who understands can help us process our grief and cope with our loss.

Furever aims to provide that support.

iOS Mobile App
UX UI Designer | Researcher
May - September 2021

1. The Problem

The experience of losing a pet can be just as heartbreaking as losing a human friend or family member. Yet, sadly, grieving pet owners often struggle to find support to help them cope with their loss. This can increase emotional distress and lead to feelings of shame and isolation, greatly impacting both their mental and physical health.

2. The Solution

Create a loving tribute

Celebrate your pet's life with a virtual memorial and easily share it with friends and family.

Connect with others

Visit other memorials and comment, share a photo, or light a virtual candle.

Join a community

Seeking emotional support from people who 'get it? Browse the online community and connect with those that can help.

3. The Process

Modified Double Diamond Chart

Exploring the Problem Space

Discovering the problem space was definitely not a linear journey. Where I started was certainly not where I ended up. I began my research exploring the pain points of dog ownership with a focus on improving the success rate of choosing the right dog for your lifestyle. My motivation came from witnessing, many times, the seemingly avoidable consequences and emotional struggle of someone making the wrong choice because they weren’t equipped with the right information to make a better one. Even though I was emotionally connected and purposefully driven to the idea of helping potential dog owners improve their decision-making, I still was able to keep an open mind. And that is how my research led me to discover a much bigger problem space, coping with pet loss.

This is how I got there.


4. Initial Research

Affinity Map

Reframing My Area of Focus

I used affinity mapping to organize all the data from the 5 interviews. I started to synthesize my findings based on my originally defined problem space and organized key insights by creating an empathy map and persona. Here is where I discovered something that changed the course of my strategy. I realized I was not adequately representing the largest area on the map, focusing on emotions, because it didn’t fit into my originally defined problem.  I had been ignoring this area's key insights. These insights, centering around 3 interview questions which focused on the emotional connection between owner and dog, ultimately painted a much bigger problem space. 

I was in a dark place when he passed. I bought a weighted blanket.
Jennifer G., user interview participant
Never had to put down a dog before and that was the hardest.
Josh C., user interview participant

Key Insights

The Positive Power of Pet Relationships

  • Significant emotional support 
  • Companionship
  • Unconditional love for us and our children
  • Feeling of fulfillment, or sense of purpose

Grieving the Loss of a Pet

  • It can be difficult to find emotional support for a pet’s end-of-life care
  • People look for social support to help cope with their grief
  • Losing a pet can leave behind a profound sense of emptiness and loss  

How did these new insights change my strategy?

5. Secondary Research

By stepping out of initial outcome assumptions, I was able to discover key insights that enabled me to uncover a deeper problem to solve. I needed to conduct more Secondary Research to help validate the key insights I discovered from my Primary Research.

I was extremely sad...
so I kind of went to Facebook for a place to vent/grieve and talk to people to try and find comfort.
Research participant, SMSociety-Pet-Grief.pdf

Key Insights

Competitive Analysis

At the time of this case study, there was no competition in the iOS App store for pet loss. My research found technology, such as meditation and social media apps, have been proven to help pet owners deal with their loss. While keeping the above research in mind, I analyzed 2 social media apps and 2 meditation apps to help me bridge the gap.


Using the key insights from the data I gathered in the Discovery Phase, primarily user Interviews, I synthesized my research and looked for patterns to create a persona. Jen represents those who are recently grieving the death of their pet and are looking for ways to cope with their loss.

Redefining The Problem

How Might We...
provide comfort and support for those who are grieving the loss of their pet?

6. Maps and Flows

User Story Map

Using the persona as a guide, I identified the key goals of the user, sharing – connecting – engaging. I then created user stories to articulate the needs of my users and consciously think about how they will use my app. To determine which key features should be implemented in my MVP, I employed user story mapping to organize and prioritize the stories by importance, impact and value it will bring to the user. 

Site Map

I created a site map to help me visualize the various screens I would need to design, ensuring that I clarify my app’s goals before designing the content. Below is the initial design that inevitably changed, but it gave me a structure to follow during the initial concept phase.

User Flows

The next step was to create user flows that identified the critical paths users will follow, making sure to design the easiest way for users to reach the intended goals and tasks of the red routes.

As a grieving pet owner, I want to create an online memorial for my pet so I may have a way to remember them.

Red Route - 1

Onboard / sign-up

  • New email / password
  • Sign up / enter email

Red Route - 2

Create a pet memorial

  • Upload photo
  • Input pet profile information
  • Write pet tribute
  • Publish memorial

Red Route - 3

Visit someone's memorial

  • Search for memorial
  • Find memorial
  • Light candle
  • Save the memorial

7. Sketch to Wireframe Evolution

I executed rapid sketching, digitized a prototype in Marvel, and conducted a guerilla usability test with five friends for initial feedback to validate my user flows.

Then I refined the layout and user flows by creating initial wireframes in Sketch, making some adjustments based on the user feedback from testing.

Onboarding/Welcome Screens

Home Screen/Join A Community

The Iteration of Wireframes

It is important to get users to the core value as soon as possible. One of my key iterations was simplifying the introduction flow during the onboarding process. Initially, it took 5 steps before the user was able to start creating a pet memorial. I was able to cut it down to 2 steps. Because it is an all-in-one tool, I decided to switch to Figma for my wireframe iterations for this project in prep for my high fidelity prototype.

8. Design Style Guide

Colors and emotions are closely allied. Research shows the color blue calls to mind feelings of calmness or serenity. It is often described as peaceful and tranquil. This is how I wanted users to feel using the app. I designed the UI to be light and simple using a minimal color palette, incorporating the gradient blue as a highlight to give the app a soft appearance. 

9. Prototyping and Testing

Usability Test - Round 1 With 4 Participants

I created a high-fidelity prototype in Figma and conducted two rounds of moderated usability testing with 9 people. After getting the feedback from the first usability test, I iterated on the prototype. I also took this opportunity to add useful information and visual elements on the homescreen. Below are the major updates based on the feedback from the 1st Round of testing.

Redesigning Icons For Clarity

  • Candle: Users did not recognize the icon as a candle, so I redesigned it to look more like a candle.
  • Edit Memorial: 50% of users struggled with how to edit the page, so I relocated and redesigned the pencil "edit" icon by adding text.
  • Bottom Navigation: 50% of users did not know “Favorites” was where they would find saved memorials. 50% of users did not associate the “Me” icon with where they would find their own memorials because they assumed it was just profile settings. Based on this feedback, I changed "Me" to "My Pet", "Favorites" to "Memorials" and added a settings icon.

Keeping Users Informed

  • Originally, a notification box flashed briefly to validate the user had successfully saved the memorial. 50% of users struggled to identify where it was saved. Based on this feedback, I added a link to direct users and an exit to prevent important information from disappearing.
  • Following the updated "Save" notification box, I redesigned the Candle notification and also added text to give more context.

Creating a Better Search

  • 50% of users were not confident that the search results screen was showing Arthur Miller's pet memorial. The user needed more information to validate the results were accurate. I redesigned the search function to give more details of the search criteria such as anticipatory names, a filter search results option, and the number of search results. I also added the search bar at the top.

Usability Test - Round 2 With 5 Participants

In the next round of usability testing, I wanted to test if the new bottom navigation elements and the candle icons would be more recognizable by the users and increase the success rate from my previous test. The candle icons were successful. However, to my surprise, users still struggled with identifying what the bottom navigation elements were for.

  • 3 out of 5 users were unable to save the memorial because they associated the Heart icon with "liking", and not "saving." This was in high contrast to my previous success rate in Round 1 of testing.
  • 3 out of 5 users were not able to identify Memorials on the bottom navigation as the place for saved memorials. Instead, they thought it was where they could search for memorials. It was only after these users completed the "save the memorial" task that they saw the notification of where it was saved.
  • 2 out of 5 users were not able to identify Community on the bottom navigation as the place to search for communities to join. They thought it was where they could find saved memorials.
  • 5 out of 5 users, as noted above, were not able to correctly identify the functions associated with the bottom navigation elements.

10. Final Prototype


11. Learnings and Next Steps...

Overall, the prototype had great user feedback. The prototype's main features, sharing – connecting – engaging, were given positive reactions. Most users mentioned that it is an app that they would personally use. What was most surprising is that every user expressed deep interest in the “join a community” feature which was a fake door part of the prototype due to time.

  • Follow the insights, always keep an open mind.
  • Re-thinking the framework encouraged me to continuously tweak and modify it.
  • Be prepared to iterate, or even restart, at any point in the process. Embrace failures because the process is not finite.
  • Easily recognizable icons make very effective communication tools.
  • Always keep users informed, by providing appropriate feedback.

This journey has led me to experience the power of exploration, with many iterations and pivots along the way. Usability testing provided key insights into how strongly people gravitate towards a supportive community. I would like to continue researching and iterating on the "join a community" aspect of the app. The process has led me to believe this could be the main feature.