Airbnb’s Redesigned Tools Make It Easier to Be a Good Host
For years, Airbnb’s host dashboard was nearly identical to its guest dashboard. Certain details differed, of course, but the layout of each presented the same kind of information, in the same increments, and in the same order. That changes today, with a major redesign to Airbnb’s host dashboard.
Thing is, Airbnb host’s experience is nothing like a guest’s experience. Guests are travelers, people who need to rent a room. Hosts, on the other hand, are essentially running a small side business. They need to track earnings, get rooms cleaned on time, and provide a de facto concierge service. That’s why, a year ago, Airbnb’s Marketplace team started prototyping and testing new tools on its host dashboard. Then, four months ago, the team started building those insights into a fully realized redesign. That redesign—a newly minted host dashboard for both web and mobile—launches this morning.
The old host dashboard was most analogous to an inbox. The new one is more like a calendar, in that it emphasizes highlighting day-to-day activities. “It needs to be quick and digestible,” says Amber Cartwright, who runs the Marketplace team and led the redesign. For instance, the new layout makes a point of grouping and displaying same-day events and activities, simply by wrapping them in the same white box. “If someone is leaving today and someone else is arriving, [hosts] need to know,” says Cartwright. “That’s different from taking a vacation and blocking out my calendar twice a year.” In other words: It’s in a host’s best interests to keep apprised of day-to-day ongoings. But renters? All they really need to know is the duration of their stay.
More Is More
A year ago, When Cartwright and her team first started tinkering with the idea of a new host dashboard, they considered every type of information a host might seek out and translated them into a set of 20 modules. Those modules include everything from booking requests to reviews to Airbnb demand in the neighborhood to cash earned. They surveyed users, and eventually went to London and Paris to observe and interview Airbnb superhosts.
When you’re Airbnb, it’s your natural inclination to design simply. The company’s interface places a premium on white space and simple hierarchies of information. Just look at its massive rebranding from last year: both the homepage and the logo got seriously pared down. The former doesn’t ask you to click around a whole lot—through details like automatically populating maps and showing photo galleries right on the home page, it’s made to quickly surface the information you need. So when Cartwright and her team discovered that their test hosts liked all of the new modules they were being offered, they naturally worried about creating a new product with feature bloat.
Turns out, Airbnb hosts actually welcome as many layers of information as they can get. “It’s stacking a lot of information and as a designer it was like, oh my God, we’re stacking lists. But this is how they want to consume their information,” Cartwright says. “They’re not scared of lists and condensing information and giving them a lot more.” In the redesigned host dashboard, hosts will see three to four times as many upcoming reservations per page as they used to. Instead of getting an aggregate score on guest reviews, hosts will see how they perform by category, by month.
The new host dashboard manages to cleanly pack all this new information into one place. And, as with the rebranding, that shouldn’t make things more confusing, it should make Airbnb simpler to use. All in all, it just means less toggling and clicking around. “It’s all about what we could surface that would be most minimal, and most helpful, on a daily basis,” Cartwright says.
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