Airbnb Hero Image

Highlight: Product + Critical Thinking - Speculative
Categories: UX Research, UX, Design Thinking, Touched on CX

Roles: User Researcher, Product Designer
Participants: 5 qualitative interviews

Tools: Figma for the design process; Flowmapp for the CJM; Google Sheet for feature priority; Web Inspector/Code Editor for visual UX/UI mockups; Maze for usability test

Duration: 1.5 weeks, 60 hours in April 2020
*** Note: Speculative added feature project, no affiliation with the brand ***

Airbnb Experience Reviews

Prologue: The customer is always right in the service industry. It depends...

Airbnb offers vacation rentals, homes, experiences, and places. They offer unforgettable experiences to guests.


Use your common sense for booking on Airbnb.

One challenge was establishing a focal point for customer experience design since the results of the research study were quite broad. All the research participants had very different customer experience in North America, Europe, and Asia. Fourth-fifths of participants had to recall their experiences from more than one year ago and they had trouble recalling fine details.

Research Definition

None of them were aware of Airbnb’s safety and trust statement. As long as there was enough door security and they were in a safe neighbourhood, they were satisfied, until something was to happen. At the end of the interviews, my research participants were left wondering how safety and trust work on Airbnb.

Two new features Airbnb offers as of 2020 are:

  • Online experiences, where guest can join live sessions led by superhosts without leaving their house
  • Front-line stays, where guests can find or hosts can provide stays for COVID-19 responders

My formed hypothesis based on hearing the 5 research participant's stories:

How fast the communication between guests and hosts is the perceived sense of “safety” and choosing cleanliness is their “blanket of comfort" in selecting an Airbnb stay.

I established the following goals for the newly added feature for three parties: Guests, hosts, and Airbnb stakeholders.

Carly's Customer Journey
from Looking at Airbnb
Places to Stay
to Going Back Home:

Hover on the image to read
a bit better on desktop
(Min. 1425px width)

Airbnb Customer Journey Map

Solution Planning

My innovative thought was that guests can add video reviews from their Airbnb stays to give other Airbnb users honest feedback. Word-of-mouth marketing is very valuable and if a company allows that to be on their platform it generates more trust from users to your brand. Self-discovery and secondary Google research gave me a few surprises.

My first surprise was that Airbnb hosts have been requesting a video upload feature be added since as far back as 2016. No video upload exists at this time. The possibilities of this backlog may be other features were more important or simply too many videos will slow down the website and mobile app platform.

My second surprise, the Airbnb site, and the app is missing usability for reading through reviews. Their search function for looking up keywords in text reviews was not consistent across the responsive website and mobile app. I ran a usability check from PowerMapper and it resulted in a benchmark of 71%, which is undesirable in business.

Features Ideated with Priority
Features Ideated with
Priority to Solve
the Design Problem:

Hover on the image to read
a bit better on desktop
(Min. 1425px width)

Airbnb Feature Roadmap

Solution Execution

I focused on adding the video feature to the desktop website because research participants from the one-on-one interviews preferred to use the website to view Airbnb stays more than the app. I gathered many screenshots after I played with the HTML and CSS DOM to give a realistic sense of how the UI, and interactions can look. The other reason I did this was that Airbnb used Circular, an expensive font, and I didn’t want to invest in the font.

One analysis was how useful the new feature was to participants. Another analysis was to see how they normally search through reviews in Airbnb stays. From those 2 analyses, we did one-on-one feedback sessions to see what work and didn’t work for them.

(f1) Mobile Airbnb App Reviews

(f2) Desktop Airbnb Reviews

  1. (f1) How users may search through Airbnb mobile app for reviews - I chose to simulate how users will search reviews from fairytale Lithuania stay in the middle of the forest
  2. (f2) How users may search through Airbnb website not logged in

(f3) Desktop UI Manipulations Showcasing Video Hospitality, Trustworthiness, and Better Usability with Filtering

Sidebar: The first slide in the carousel refers to the #1 note, and points correspond as you click to the next slides...

  1. Raising video experience reviews awareness on the home page - My added feature
  2. Raising awareness in safety in the trip searching area
  3. Visualizing the addition of video into the rental's media gallery and making it filterable for usability
  4. Visualizing the filtering of keyword reviews or types of media reviews in a dropdown
  5. Adding function - Upload media content for reviews
  6. Adding delight - Host with an introduction video
  7. Adding delight - Guest self-reporting 360° room cleanliness spin-around video

Outcomes and Lessons

My polled research participants think the video review was great and liked the idea. I question if they will use it on their own time because some humans say and do opposite things. When I was observing how they search reviews in user testing, they don’t use the site often, and Airbnb is constantly making changes to its website and app..

From this project, I learned more about the Peak-end rule. The annoying part of looking for Airbnb stays was generally affected by usability in searching. The safety factor was invisible to potential guests. I also observed the advertised cost per night of a rental was lowered when you clicked into the Airbnb stay. Self-reflection: Is this an ethical sales call or beneficial savings for users?

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