We just wanted to make it easier for people to report animal abuse, and help the people doing the good work of managing these cases have an easier time. We discovered a world of crazy cat ladies, overworked animal-social workers and nosy neighbors we never imagined.

In the end we created Animal Cop, digital reporting and management system for concerned citizens and Humane Officers, created for the Pittsburgh Humane Animal Rescue shelter using a user-centered design process to create a solution that simplifies the animal abuse reporting and investigation process.

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MVP Animal Abuse Reporting & Management System

For my BHCI Capstone at Carnegie Mellon, I worked with team of four other really smart women: Yiran Buckley and Miranda Nyugen led the research, Vanessa Kalu headed up the UI design Maggie Yu was our magic-making backend developer and I acted as a product manager.

We were asked to help the Pittsburgh Humane Animal Rescue…


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People are irrational, they don’t make decisions that seem to make sense for themselves. They use products in ways designers and developers don’t expect- so we have to get used to predicting for the unpredictable, irrationality.

Prospect theory is a theory of how people perceive choices- named by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky as a psychologically more accurate description of decision making, compared to the expected utility theory, in the paper “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk” (1979).

Prospect Theory 101

Prospect theory is a huge part of the skeleton of behavioral economic theory (all those other things like anchoring, default…


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We each face so many crossroads in our lives- what if we could test our futures before committing?

It’s easy to make a decision tree or table when you know all the options, and you’re certain in their outcomes. But big personal decisions are never like that, they’re difficult because they are ill-defined and all the outcomes are uncertain. This isn’t to say it isn’t worth it to try to give objective value to each choice, but the truth is that there is so much between the rational option and reality that is difficult to write on paper.

What we need is just a taste of the future- but without having to actually make the decision yet.

Let’s…


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Copying doesn’t have to be the scary word our Forth grade teachers told us it was.

I used to think “copy” was four letter word, as bad as it gets. When my first interactive design professor told us to base our navigation from the Material Design style guide, basically tweak it for our scenarios, I rebelled. After all, what was the point of creating something that already existed? Needless to say, the UI was pretty awful. Everything was just… off. Icons were too big, fonts too small, and hover states distracting.

It’s taken the last four years for me to finally appreciate the incredible value of mimicking, or copying, the work of others as an UI…


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Designers are increasingly tasked with supporting users in making complex and important decisions from business management software to choosing health care plans. But aside from designing generally intuitive systems, there are few formalized structures or best practices for designing decision making experiences. That’s where decision science, which also informs behavioral economics, can give us some insight. In this article, I’m going to explain how we can use a few key principles from years of decision science research to design for better decision making.

Decision Science happened when psychologists and economists started talking, and realized that maybe the reason that their…

Sarah Moss-Horwitz

UX/UI Person. CMU HCI 2017. Behavioral Science nerd.

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