spring 2019
conversation design

sharon lee
maddy cha

Creating a better check-in process for Airbnb guests with Abbi, a personalized conversational assistant.

Currently, Airbnb leaves it up to hosts to inform guests of check-in processes and any other necessary information. Since there’s no standardization of this process, guests can become overwhelmed with the amount of information they need to go through before they can truly start their stay. We designed Abbi to address this frustration by collecting all of the necessary information in one place, and guiding users step-by-step through the check-in process in a friendly, clear manner.

motion studies —

We individually explored how to convey different emotions & states through motion. Starting with using a simple white circle & moving on to interactions between shapes & colors, we designed motions for different states of a hypothetical voice assistant. Once we had completed our sets of motions, we mapped our motions onto a positive/ negative & low intensity/ high intensity axes as a way to compare both the differences in our explorations as well as how our motions might differ from our understanding of the emotion or state they were supposed to represent.

problem space —

Our next step was to consider motion as respresentative of not only a specific state, but also a brand. We chose Airbnb as our brand, and spent some time defining where exactly we wanted our assistant to fit in to Airbnb’s user experience.

We identified the check-in process as a potential area for intervention, and mapped out the user journey to identify pain points & specific experiences our assistant should provide. We also used this to guide what emotions/states our assistant would need to convey to provide the clearest experience for the user.

explorations —

Once we had a specific focus, we began to explore what our assistant would look & feel like. We spent a lot of time looking through available examples of Airbnb’s branding, particularly related to their illustration guidelines & what examples of motion we could find in their ads & on their app.

We ended up going with a map pin shape for the main visual of the assistant, as it fit into Airbnb’s focus on location & felt friendlier than a more abstract visualization. Based off of this main shape, we started iterating on what the motions for the different states could be, as well as what those would look like in context in an app.

storyboards —

As we designed Abbi, we also worked on a concept video to showcase our proposed functionality & demonstrate the different motions in context. We took this as an opportunity to further work with Airbnb’s branding & worked on designing assets & creating an overall tone that fit in with the rest of the company.

final —

thoughts —

This project really highlighted how so many different factors can make or break an experience: I was focused primarily on the motions & visuals, and as we were creating the video we realized that sound would be very important to making the whole thing feel cohesive. Even just focusing on the motion, very subtle changes can convey completely different feelings.

I also learned a lot (a little bit the hard way) about scoping a project. This prompt was a little more open ended, and we started off being very ambitious about the different capabilities we wanted our assistant to have while only having around 2 weeks to work on the branding portion. In the end, we had to really consider what was most necssary to convey Abbi’s key features.

© 2019 allissa chan