The Reptile Match


Problem: PetSmart's reptile shopping experience is boring, sterile and disorganized.

Solution: Create an engaging tool for families to choose their perfect pet.

Idea: Infuse PetSmart with the energy inherent of these intriguing animals.


Reptiles are polarizing creatures. They oscillate between appearing seductive, demonic, endearing, and ornate. The narrative of the reptile (specifically the snake) has been told through many lenses, greatly influencing our perception of these animals. 

reptiles_graphics-4GOOD_subhead website.png


It is hard to ignore these cultural biases when considering a reptile as a pet. PetSmart doesn't help the situation with a cluttered, afterthought of a sales presentation. With families as the customer base, how can we create a communal and exciting experience to help parents and kids pick the best animal for their home?


Online MAtchmaker


The digital reptile match is an illustrative tool for families to discover their new pet.

  • The matchmaker is a research assistant for parents and kids who are already interested in reptiles and want to streamline their in-store shopping experience.
  • The tool pairs users with their ideal reptile (based on personal and logistical pet preferences) and indicates the nearest PetSmart where that animal is available.  
  • The matchmaker is installed at the top of the reptile landing page (which has been reorganized so users can search for pets and supplies by species). 

The In-Store Experience

The in-store version of the map is designed for the impromptu reptile customer: perhaps a family who knows they want a small pet but are deciding between a fish, reptile, or hamster.

  • This poster-sized map (displayed in a light-box at the front of aisle) draws customers into the world of reptiles. It features the top five reptiles at PetSmart; families can use the map verbatim to find a specific pet or as a general guide to discover which species is right for them.
  • We simplified and made the pet brochures more dynamic. They live under the map so when families go through the flow and land on their perfect animal, the information needed will be at their fingertips. 

Improved real-estate

Move over's the reptiles' time to shine. 

  • There is significant customer crossover between these two categories of pet, yet fish get a whole wall or enclave of display and the reptiles get a measly end cap.
  • We decided to show off our scaly friends and give them more crawl space by placing them on top of the aisles at eye-height. The shelves are kid-friendly and organized so all supplies rest directly underneath the corresponding animal. 

The Reptile Pledge

Reptiles appeal to families because they generally require less maintenance than four legged creatures, yet they still demand time, attention, money, and love. For this reason, we created a pledge for all new owners.

  • It is a magnet that attaches to the side of a terrarium which the new owner receives and signs during purchase. 
  • The pledge is a simple, sweet reminder of the responsibility of pet owning, and further personalizes the shopping experience.

Research Methods 

We conducted on-site interviews with employees and customers, talked and user-tested with experienced reptile owners, parents, and teachers, and visited a variety of pet supply stores across the state. 



Meredith Makhoul, Strategist

Julian Grimes, Strategist and Designer

Elise Sokolowski, Experience Designer


TooL Kit

  • Illustrator
  • Sketch
  • Invision
  • Keynote


My Role

  • I conducted in-person and phone interviews with reptile experts, customers and employees at PetSmart.
  • I was responsible for the design of the online and in-store reptile matchmaker experience.
  • I user-tested throughout the prototyping process. 
  • I assisted conceptually in the aisle redesign and construction of the brief.