Dog park apps— why they all suck.

An analysis of the “best” iOS and Android dog park apps out there. I’ll be looking over them with the eye of a UI/UX designer and an avid searcher of dog parks.

Finding dog parks has been a personal struggle of mine since as long as I have had my little puppers, Dex.

It’s all about the information that’s provided, or lack thereof. Not even the almighty Google does a great job in this area. They might show you the parks but then you have to dig through the reviews or visit the individual website to find any relative information.

maps.google.com

So I decided I would share my pain with all of you and hope I’m not the only one out there with these struggles.

I plan to do something about this so be sure and take the survey at the end of this article!

Alright, let’s get started…


iPhone

Dog Park Finder — The design makes me feel like I’m on the very first iPhone that ever existed. The heavy gradient usage and skeuomorphic elements create a dated feeling throughout the design.

I do appreciate the fence icon, that shows on the listings. Each time you click on a map pin information is provided whether that park is fenced in or not, which is a huge deciding factor for me personally.

The listing view of this app is really cluttered. I can hear the client saying “fit as much as you can on one screen!” There isn’t any breathing room and it hurts readability.

Like some of the other apps we’ll look through, the design doesn’t compensate for a lack of content. In going through several individual park pages, none of which had an image to show. The reviews are also pulled in from somewhere else. So, even if the park says it has two reviews there aren’t any reviews to actually read.

“Nearby,” “Search,” and “Browse” are separate in the navigation and is super confusing. I’m still not sure how “Search” and “Browse” are any different.

I have no idea where the added value is to upgrade for this app. They say that you get to see more parks and more businesses but it’s hard to see what I’m missing out on without at least a teaser of some kind.

The type of information that is provided, when it is provided, is ok. Park type, hours, fees, etc are all useful to see at a glance. However, fenced, water provided, and small dog area are all absent.

Paw Parks — This one is by far the cleanest and most modern of the iOS bunch. The color scheme is calm and delicate; when paired with the light weight iconography, it fits well on iOS. The park amenities list is robust and they have chosen the hierarchy of the ones that are shown rather well.

I’m still confused on what “Barks” are. Are they reviews? I didn’t find a listing that actually had any. Also, the paper and pencil icon and chat box icon aren’t intuitive. Upon first impression it was nearly impossible to know how their actions would differ without clicking on them.

I do appreciate that they have “check-ins” but the amount that I have found is rather underwhelming. There isn’t much of a value proposition for anyone to check in from what I can see.

This app could really benefit from more user interaction and input. It definitely has the foundation to be something good.

BringFido — Now this app doesn’t just allow you to find parks, but also hotels and other attractions that allow dogs. From reading through some of the reviews it seems that the hotels section is the most used, currently. Though, let us focus on the dog park section.

The way they list results is rather cumbersome. No one wants to swipe 72 times to get through all of the results. They aren’t using their real estate to its full advantage. The design relies too heavily on good imagery, when they could decrease the dominance of the image and provide other vital information that users are looking for such as fenced, trails, off-leash, etc. They do have a map view though which is what I would most likely rely on.

The individual listings don’t highlight any key amenities. To get any information the user has to read the description paragraph or the reviews which are seldom to actually list any of the amenities to begin with.

Android

Dog Park Locator — Welp…not much to say about this one because there ain't much to it. Clunky advertisements at the bottom and no information provided other than the name and location of the park. :(

Dog Friendly — Another one that isn’t just about dog parks but when I did try and find dog parks, nothing came up. Not only is their beveled and gradient style choices, outdated, but they don’t even provide content to compensate for that.

You can also see the category images don’t correlate with the titles. Unless, there is a cafe with a big pile of leafs in it, as well as a pub in the middle of a tall grassy field, that I’m unaware of.

Bark Happy — A little saving grace for Android. This app is also for iOS but I experienced it on Android.

Plus, as you can see, Android apps need some salvation.

This is the one app, of all of these, that I will actually keep on my phone. Not because they do a great job with dog parks but because they have great information for other places that allow pets, specifically eateries. This also seems to be the main use of it, after reading through the reviews. They list specifically where the dogs are allowed, if there is a cover, and if there is water provided, which is all pertinent information.

The design is very clean and inviting. They have done a great job organizing their information. The color choice and iconography is minimalistic and represents actions very well. The color coding of the map categories, in particular, is very useful.

The “wags” is a little strange to me. It does feel a bit like tinder for dogs. “Send them a wag to connect” and “wag back.” There were a couple reviewers that had this same notion, though it seems to work for most others. I would not personally ever “wag” at someone unless I met them at the dog park first. It just seems a bit off to me, personally. Also, just because someone has a pet doesn’t mean they aren’t a crazy psycho killer.

Ok, let’s get to the point already, dog parks. They only show two in the area that I was in, which I know there are more. The two that I did click on were a bit lackluster for content. They didn’t highlight more than one key amenity and the rest of the info was reliant on the description or review(s).

I recommend checking this app out for their events and meetups (IF THEY ARE IN YOUR AREA) they seem to only have a handful of locations but are steadily growing.

I’ve taken all this info, combined it with some more research and user testing and have launched Park Bark! 
Download the Park Bark app on Google play now :)

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