Convincing thousands of people to open their homes to strangers is no easy feat, much less creating a thriving community of travelers around the world. When Airbnb set out to design their app, they wanted it to be as welcoming and helpful as a gracious host. Using Material Design principles, the company took a direct approach to communication, creating a visual language that’s clear and understandable to its diverse user base. This conversational interface has garnered Airbnb over 84,000 five-star reviews and a Material Design Award for focused efficiency in 2016.
Unifying UI across platforms
Airbnb started by defining a set of core characteristics to guide their design. In order to appeal to travelers and hosts from any region or native language, the app had to feel unified, universal, conversational, and iconic. This meant streamlining essential tasks, and ensuring that each design element fit into a larger system. Airbnb replaced the left navigation bar on Android with the bottom navigation bar that now exists on both iOS and Android, to better unify the cross-platform experience. Karri Saarinen, Design Lead at Airbnb explains how the switch served to reinforce the company’s vision: