Airbnb Local Pulse
Inspired by my own traveling this past year, I was inspired to create a solution for engaging our incredible hosts and guests during their stays. Currently Airbnb's platform is great for exploration and discovery before a trip or an experience but once you are on that trip, there're a lot of friction points and barriers to constructing your perfectly planned and improvised itinerary.
This tool helps the everyday user explore the city they are visiting or maybe even the city they have lived in for years. Capture the best that your city has to offer and learn about what hidden gems are just around the corner.
Each card highlights a large editorial headline and a blurred user generated image. The balance of editorial candor and sense of context that an image can provide were key focuses in constructing these cards: which had to function both separately and when surrounded in a grid. The additional CTA bar only expands into view on the card in the center of the screen.
I constructed a user journey of two fictional personas to help give voice to the audience and their needs for this particular product, a sort of north star to keep me moving in the right direction.
A couple from LA just checked into their Airbnb in South San Francisco and have plans to attend an Airbnb Concert in the city at 6:00 PM.
They take CalTrain up the Peninsula and arrive ahead of schedule at 5:10. Unsure of what they’ll do in the meantime, they check their phone. Airbnb recognizes that they are close to the address of the Airbnb concert but with a fair amount of time to kill. So Airbnb invites them into this product.
They click into the notification and it brings them into the discover tab of this product.Their screen is instantly populated with inventory of things to do that locals and guests have contributed: all categorized by distance from your current location.
They browse nearby cards and they spot that Airbnb’s HQ has a beautiful atrium space that is open to the public—they have never seen a fancy Silicon Valley tech office and they tap the icon to expand the card.
The card expands into a PDP. It includes a small editorial paragraph by the ambassador, address, and a comment section of other users agreeing that they would never have known that the office was open to the public.
They scroll and read some of the details and comments. Then they click the CTA persistent on the footer of the page.
It opens up walking directions to the location through google maps with navigation ready to go.
They check out the office for about 20 minutes, take pictures of the living wall and just sit in the bustling atrium. And they head to the concert.
4. Feedback Loop
A few hours later the couple receives a message asking if they would recommend the tip they used. Post-tip ratings and views of cards will help determine how they populate to users. Distance/proximity however will always be the primary mode of ordering.
My Design Process
The primary goal of the Fellowship Project was to combine Airbnb's core business with my own creative passions. With the mission of "Belong anywhere" I looked to my own travel experiences this past year to identity points of friction along the comprehensive "trip" timeline. Among several ideas, the one that I grew most passionate in advocating for was trying to design a solution that allowed our platform to be helpfully assistive in people's travel itineraries during their exploring.
You see, as Airbnb desires to own every part of the magical trip, it seems only logical that we help people belong by helping them see and experience how locals themselves belong: their favorite hole-in-the-wall shops, secret menu items, and views that remind them of why they live where they live. The challenge then comes from creating a tool that can instantly immerse a guest into the local culture without removing them emotionally from their ephemeral adventure. Where to begin?!
External Competitor Audit
First I took a look at some of the best-in-class products that are in a similar a problem space. I then spent time documenting things out on sticky notes that they each respectively did well and also any friction points that I noticed.
I then marked the elements that I wanted to include or address in my project with orange sticky note bars. Below the audit I wrote out critical questions that I wanted to address with my solution. These served as constant calibrators for my design choices.
- Discovery takes a lot of time
- Often too many differing opinions left a recommendation in the murky gray area
- There were paralyzing amounts of filters and different ways to search
- Constantly had to sift through meaningful information and excessive information
- Quality Local Content
- Unique Contributors
- Authentic and Community-curated
- Brevity & Whimsy
As a final part of the audit I also looked at how each product chose to display inventory visually and compositionally. I then began drawing wireframes (mobile) based off a similar visual language to Airbnb's broader brand. Sketching out different layouts and modules helped begin to give a visual body to the concepts I was forming during the audit.
Organizing a User Flow
After that, I organized a few user flows that could accomplish the objective and also minimize the number of clicks for the user.
From the most promising interfaces, I then translated into low fidelity shapes in Sketch to get a more realistic feel for the space certain modules would occupy. After user testing with a few coworkers it became clear that I needed to refocus on two of my design principles: brevity and intrigue.
After honing in on brevity and whimsy, it became clear that the main proprietary advantage of this product was that you could kill a small amount of time and get a large return on community immersion. Distance is the utmost important quality so I began designing an omnidirectional discover page--automatically populated with supply, arranged by distance from your current location.
Card Module Design
The card design itself was a process, optimizing the information and deciding what visually provided a user with enough information. I experimented with illustration, user generated content, big editorial type, categorizing by floods of color, etc. By far the most challenging problem was designing a card that demanded a user's attention while still not getting lost within a grid of other cards.
Takeaways /Project Learnings
1.) Developing design principles to achieve a solution helps optimize focus and execution.
2.) Competitive audits are incredibly helpful for project context and deciding what you want to achieve.
3.) It is vital to prototype and iterate continuously as you receive feedback from users.
4.) Design for your specific audience and then expand reach later if appropriate.