If you’re a dog owner, chances are you’ve longed for an easier way to take care of your dog’s many, many needs. Because no matter your dog, it has significant day-to-day needs — and, for the average working adult, those needs can be difficult to fulfill. If you travel or work outside the home, you may need boarding or doggie daycare services. If you have a new puppy or simply a dog with behavior issues, you may need training classes. To keep your dog well-groomed and healthy, you may need grooming or dog-walking services. What’s a dog owner to do?
Well, if you’re a dog owner based in Los Angeles, Santa Monica-based Fitdog wants to help. Designed as an all-in-one solution for your dog’s boarding, grooming, exercise, playing, and training needs, Fitdog is taking dog care to the next level, bringing personalized care, professionalism, and a good deal of pizzazz to an often-lackluster business sector.
Fitdog first contacted Distillery through our website. Though the company already had a web app, they’d come to acknowledge that it wasn’t convenient for their employees, dog trainers, or customers to use. It was becoming more difficult for the Fitdog team to manage the company’s increasingly complex infrastructure and keep everyone’s schedules on track. The third-party web service they’d been using meant things were difficult to update and generally inconvenient for all parties. Fitdog wanted to build a web app that would work better for everyone, providing a seamless and reliable process to support scheduling, booking, and client communications.
Accommodating Fitdog’s Diverse Business Needs
The new web app was a genuinely pressing need for Fitdog, because they’re a fast-growing business with a LOT going on. In addition to letting dog owners pay by the hour or the day, Fitdog offers a range of packages and membership plans. The scope of their operations is surprisingly large, spanning across three main categories:
- Fitdog Club. In their large Santa Monica facility (which includes a 3,000-square-foot indoor dog park), they offer boarding (daycare or overnight), walks, full-service grooming using all-natural products, personalized meals, playtime, taxi service if needed, and other amenities (dog “mini bar,” anyone?). They have a store stocked with food, treats, and toys. They offer daily report cards and webcams on their website that let you check in on how your dog is doing. Fitdog sets itself apart by providing genuinely personalized care, well-trained handlers, and a staunch commitment to making sure the facility never becomes overcrowded.
- Fitdog Sports. At Fitdog, fitness classes are no longer just for humans. Fitdog maintains a consistent weekly schedule of drop-in classes featuring adventure-based activities like beach excursions, canyon hikes, and pack adventures; training-based activities like pool safety, reliable recall, puppy basics, and pack etiquette; and sports-based activities like their “fun and fit agility” class. Fitdog also offers pick-up and drop-off services for classes.
- Fitdog Training. They offer boarding and training courses ranging from basic to advanced obedience, behavioral training focused on helping your dog with specific issues, a program to improve on-leash walking skills, and the Canine Good Citizen program (CGC), which focuses on cultivating the skills needed to pass CGC certification (often required for therapy dogs). Fitdog’s highly experienced trainers work with your dog for the duration of their training experience.
Integrating User Feedback to Make a Custom-Fit App
With such a large and diverse base of activities and users to consider, the Distillery team kicked off the effort by strongly focusing on the user experience, interviewing all possible types of users. The team needed to dig deep into each user group’s needs, wants, goals, priorities, and expectations. For example, the team learned that:
- For Fitdog’s internal administrative team, it was important to develop a tool that would be convenient for them to interact with all the tool’s users. That tool also needed to provide all necessary data about the dog and its owner, access to financial and marketing information, and linkage to class information.
- For Fitdog’s trainers, it was important to be able to quickly view their class and training schedules from any device, as well as to have the ability to share news about the successes of their pupils with their owners.
- For users of Fitdog’s services — the dog owners — it was important to be able to quickly and conveniently access the class schedule and book classes, as well as to easily download all necessary documents.
The Distillery team transformed the results of all the user interviews into hundreds of wireframes that took into account all possible user interactions. They focused on integrating ideas that would provide the crucial convenience and functionality while finding ways to increase user engagement. Ultimately, they used the wireframes to build out the web app’s design, creating a tool that includes:
- A unique and friendly payment system interface design made with Python, which enabled the team to support a complicated payment flow while keeping the process secure and scalable
- A fast and easy dog owner onboarding process that lets dog owners register their dogs and sign up for their first services or classes via a few simple steps
- Integration of gamification that tracks dogs’ achievements on their profiles
- An admin panel that is custom-fit to the unique needs of Fitdog’s internal team and business processes
- Fast content loading supported by the SPA (single-page application) React framework, which allows content to be uploaded in mere seconds
Upgrading Fitdog’s Website to Match
In addition to the web app effort, Fitdog enlisted Distillery’s help to bring their website into better alignment with Fitdog’s current organizational complexity, branding, and level of professional polish. To keep things as convenient and user-friendly as possible for Fitdog’s administrative staff, WordPress was retained as the site’s platform. However, all pages were redesigned from scratch in accordance with modern standards. As a result:
- The website’s content and visual identity were refined, focusing on using lush, vivid imagery and videos that would fully demonstrate the brand’s advantages. The overall idea was to use less text while conveying more meaning.
- The website’s navigation was substantially redesigned so that it now has three sections that clearly correspond to the three distinct areas of Fitdog’s business.
- The mobile version of the website was also redesigned from scratch, becoming much more understandable, easy to use, and visually appealing.
Preparing for a Successful Launch
Distillery first helped Fitdog to launch the minimum viable product (MVP) version of the web app, enlisting Fitdog’s employees and most loyal users to test the product. That way, prior to launching publicly, the Distillery team could validate that they’d provided the right tools and functionalities for all the diverse user groups and allow time to iterate based on their feedback. After collecting the users’ feedback, the team made several changes to the web app, including integrating changes to the copy (e.g., changing the naming of the class levels) and making minor technical adjustments focused on making the admins’ tasks even more convenient.
The web app and website are now live. Fitdog officially launched them this month as part of a big-picture branding effort.
Bringing the Right Team to the Effort
Our Distillery team thoroughly enjoyed the process of working with Fitdog throughout their product development journey. Massive credit is due to the hardworking team members who worked in collaboration with Fitdog to make it all happen. The team included Project Manager Denis Krivolapov; UI Designers Anastasya Zhmurchuk and Luciana Flora; UX Designer Andrew Reinstein; Frontend/Backend Developer Ilia Zuenok; Backend Developers Dmitry Tatrkin, Ivan Mironov, and Vladimir Terekhov; Frontend Developers Max Efimov and Max Zinchenko; DevOps Engineer Ivan Triputen; and QA Engineers Oleg Mikheenko and Vyacheslav Markov. Our team will continue to assist Fitdog with maintaining and updating the web app and website as needed.
Here at Distillery, we are genuinely passionate about working with clients like Fitdog to develop the tools that help them take their businesses to the next level of success. What’s more, now the dog owners in Distillery’s LA office know where they can take their dogs when they next have a need!
If you’d like to read about more of our recent collaborations, check out our blogs on Tala, Glydr, nēdl, and Circle for Roommates. Curious about how we can help you with your own product development journey? Let us know.
When Denis Krivolapov joined Distillery in 2016, he was already a seasoned project manager with years of experience. Passionate about beautiful design and user-friendly products, he has successfully worked with both huge enterprises and tiny startups. In his spare time, Denis enjoys playing video games. Meanwhile, he’s making preparations for his life’s journey of visiting every country in the world.