I’m at the immigration control trying to find my Airbnb host’s phone number. It’s nowhere to be found offline. If only I had a local SIM card!

Living in Airbnb places for years, I have this problem over and over. I love Airbnb. I love their design-centric culture. And I kind of like the app. Still, it doesn’t solve the issue.

My Expertise

Same time, I’m a UX designer since 1999, working at Icons8. Prototyping is what I do a lot.

So, in this article, we’ll apply my skills to the redesign of the home screen of the Airbnb app.

It’s a concept, far from production. But if I were a part of the team, I’d say it’s good enough to discuss as well as make some prototyping and usability testing (we do a lot of usability testing here btw).

User Goals

In substance, that’s what a user wants to do. What do users do when they launch the Airbnb mobile app?

First Launch

Here is what it looks like:

During the first interaction, most mobile apps have to respond to the same questions:

1. Is it well done?
2. How much is it?
3. Try it

Airbnb is fantastic for these goals, answering all three questions.

Airbnb does a great job addressing the goals of the first interaction

In particular:

  1. Obviously, it’s a beautiful application that looks functional, to say the least.
  2. It shows the photos of the product with pricing.
  3. It offers to try it. As we know, there are search users and browse users. Airbnb addresses both.

Returning User

For a returning user, the goals vary from app to app (and from a website to website). There are many books on that, and most are too wordy (like this one, otherwise good book).

In practice, you should do one of the following:

  • Brainstorm the goals
  • Ask users and group the goals.

I’ll do the first part. I’ll brainstorm user experience with a team of one, just me.

  • In the day of check-in, I have to see the address and phone number
  • Standing at the door, I need to call the phone or get another way to reach the owner, urgently
  • Other days, I would want to book a new place or message the hosts.

Does Airbnb make a good job here? Nope.

Checking In

The home screen doesn’t help

Finding address is not easy.

  • I wish there was an address that one can copy to the maps app of choice (often it’s Maps.me when you have no local data plan yet).
  • It is a must to get a way to copy the phone to Skype.

You may tell there’s another section for that. Fair enough:

Even specialized section dedicates only 12% to the useful information. No phone, no map.

Once you click the last card, you can click a call icon, but no phone number to copy or even memorize. You have to dial, drop the call, copy it to Skype or something.


Now, when we have the user experience goals, we can redesign the app. Let’s suppose we have a day of the checking-in and redesign the app for that:

user goals airbnb interaction design

At the day of check-in, the home screen should have the card with the required information. All the internal ads can appear below (or never, fine with me).

Update: when the article was ready, I’ve noticed the tab is called Explore, not Home. However, it has a collection of cards with news and featured content, i.e. it serves the functionality of the home screen.

Let’s add data:

That’s what you want to see on the day of check-in in the app. Whatsapp and Google Maps courtesy of Icons8, Google, and Facebook.

What we just did?

  1. We’ve added the map. It’s gold.
  2. We’ve added the address. They had one, but we’ve added the button for a default app (Google Maps) and share button so users can open in some offline map, or copy to the clipboard.
  3. We’ve added the phone number. “Hey, I just collected my luggage, will be soon.”
  4. We’ve added the link to something other than the Phone app. People use WhatsApp, especially when they don’t have a local plan.
  5. We’ve added the share for the phone number, so people can copy it.

Future Improvements

Of course, there’s a room for improvement.

  1. It can suggest the modes of transport: there’re train airports and Uber airports
  2. It can provide some built-in caller. Airbnb, that’s what we need, to call our hosts being on the airport WiFi.
  3. It can contain the instructions, a feature that Airbnb is preparing. It’s a great idea: I’ve seen everything from the multi-page PDFs to the check-in videos. Once I stayed with a host in San Francisco who was creating a startup for something like that.
  4. It can create a centralized smart lock interface. Who if not Airbnb can make an API for all the smart locks with their apps?

Airbnb, please make us make sense out of it. Let us unlock it from your app, not from this app they show.

What are your ideas for the check-in?

Let’s Collect More Goals

Hey, let’s collect some goals and group them. For our website, I’m launching a campaign on Intercom. For Airbnb, let’s do it in this article (if you’re reading a repost, check the original on icons8.com/blog) in the comments. I promise to answer promptly.

What do you want to make on the day of check-in at Airbnb?

Let me start: to fill an immigration form while onboard, entirely offline. I need the address and the phone number.

Now it’s your turn.

About the author: Ivan Braun, UX designer, founder of Icons8
Title image by Daniel Mitev

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