John Cowen

John Cowen

User Experience • Design • Creativity

Design Thinking at Airbnb


I wanted to post this video I just watched, together with a few notes and standout points I took from it. It's an inspiring talk with Joe Gebbia, a founder or Airbnb. He describes the value of having designers heavily involved in the decision making process of a business.

How design thinking transformed Airbnb from failing startup to billion-dollar business

The really key quote from him comes only 1:30m in:

Airbnb is really just an extension of what we learnt at industrial design and graphic design. This idea you can observe a problem and with design thinking ... can see 2 dots that don’t make any sense - but in your head you can connect them in a new and different way.

The talk goes into several examples of how design thinking defined the business and made it successful.

Other key points he makes are

  1. Do things that don’t scale
    the seemingly non-scalable idea of having professional photographs taken of the rooms in New York led to a 100% revenue increase in 1 week.
  2. Take a risk / be a pirate
    changing star ratings to hearts generated a 30% increase in click through numbers
  3. Creating the right culture
    The relationship between engineers, designers and decision makers must be symbiotic and have a culture of co-collaboration
  4. Don’t compromise - go for both
    Airbnb wanted big images and fast page loading times. They invented Infinite scrolling as a design & engineering solution to the problem
  5. Think Bigger

You made it to the bottom! Thanks for reading.

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