Creating the future of renting for Airbnb! — a UX case study.

Explore and identify a current product, service or mobile application that could best benefit from utilizing AR in a way that makes it more helpful for its users. This was my prompt for my first project at General Assembly’s UX immersive course.

I chose Airbnb.

Why Airbnb?

We have all just been through a pandemic, imagine you haven’t seen your family in 2 years.

You can finally have a family get together!

Your brother Chris calls in excitement, “Hey bro we are getting an Airbnb in the woods for a family reunion.”

You hang up the phone and start packing right away.

You and your family hop in the minivan and head to the woods. Hundreds of miles away you finally all meet up.

You step out of the van and you can smell the pine trees and hear the wolves howl.

Everyone starts running to the door, you open it…

It’s tiny.

Your dad says, “This is a lot smaller than we thought but it’s ok we can squish.. I guess.”

Then you say, “Well let’s have a BBQ!”

You open the back door to enter the backyard and walk to the grill. Boom… you realize there is no propane or charcoal.

Then you continue to the next solution, “Ok… lets just cook dinner inside..”

You go to the kitchen only to realize there is no silverware or pots and pans. This was me and my family trying to reunite after two years of not seeing each other.

  1. Create a feature that improves the users experience through AR (augmented reality) technology.
  2. Identify Airbnb user pain points to help develop an approach to solving it through AR technologies.

I operated as researcher and visual designer. I was restricted to only creating a low fidelity prototype in Balsamiq for this project.

“Why would a user need to use augmented reality with the Airbnb app?”

“How is augmented reality helpful for the Airbnb user?”

“What is augmented reality capable of?”

“What other mobile applications are using augmented reality?”

“What are the user pain points for Airbnb ?”

After conducting 10 interviews, we started to synthesize the pain points with affinity mapping.

  • 90% of users interviewed found a problem with the space when arriving.
  • 85% of users interviewed said certain rooms were not equipped with “user essentials”.
  • 95% of users interviewed felt the photos were edited to improve appearance of the space.
  1. Not enough information visually through photographs

2. Not enough information on user “essentials”

User “essentials” — These are necessities of a certain room or space.

ex. “Does the kitchen have user essentials such as silverware.“

As a renter on Airbnb, users need a better way to visualize the space and it’s essentials because of the lack of information or pictures provided by the host.

My answer to the user paint points was to create an AR virtual tour feature on the Airbnb mobile application.

Next, I had to translate all the valuable data & research into a design that is palatable for the user.

100% of all users interviewed commented on the appearance, efficiency and friendliness of Airbnb’s mobile application. My first step was to understand the ingenious user flow Airbnb has already created.

I went from screen to screen taking notes on how I could introduce a feature that would fit seamlessly in Airbnb’s design. I started to understand that the dynamic menus Airbnb allows a user to take action at every step.

I then copied Airbnb’s existing user flow and added my feature to the end of it.

“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.“

My instructors were right! I used this as an opportunity to learn more about how companies like Airbnb approach their design. If you mimic their interfaces and layouts you learn so much. I learned about spacing and how to take into consideration the subtlety of button design. Airbnb is a pioneer of creating icons that are easy to understand and are used everywhere. I didn’t have to recreate the wheel but at least I could put some air in it!

Early quick sketches

During user testing, I had valuable feedback that pointed out an another use for this feature. The feature would allow users to view accessibility options for the disabled. While not all disabled renters need a wheelchair ramp or shower handles, things like a step from one room to another can dissuade a renter from selecting a property.

Now we had to take all of this rich information and create a feature that Airbnb and its users would be proud of!

I took all the data I had accumulated over the week and started to work on creating a low-fidelity prototype. I started with sketches and transitioned to paper prototypes. The next step was to take our paper prototypes and start to recreate them in Balsamiq.

I finished the project by introducing two new features:

  1. Augmented reality virtual tour
  2. Room-to-room details of the space you are walking through.
Final low-fidelity prototype

This was the finished lo-fi prototype. Welcome to Airbnb’s virtual tour feature.

This being my first project in my UX immersive course, I can’t tell you how exciting it was. Through out the week I was on an emotional roller coaster. Going from “Am I doing this right?” to “Now we are getting somewhere.” It felt great to apply all the lessons our instructors have been so kindly teaching us into one project. I felt a sense of accomplishment. I was proud to present my work to my cohort. If you spend the time to research and listen to your users, there is no way someone can take your confidence away. We are 2 weeks into our course and I can not wait to dive deeper into UX design.

  1. Creating a high fidelity prototype in Figma.
  2. Pass the hi-fi prototype to my engineer.
  3. Pitch this feature to Airbnb.

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