Quick Studies

How Airbnb Used Storyboards to Understand the Customer Experience

Literally seeing how your customer interacts with your organization can provide new insights into better user experiences, business opportunities, and team priorities.

A few years back, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb was reading the biography of Walt Disney, and was inspired by Disney’s creation of a storyboard to produce his first feature film, Snow White. Airbnb then created their own storyboards, imagining and illustrating what their guests and hosts experience while using their service. The practice has two benefits:

  1. It’s a visual way to better understand your customers’ experiences. As Chesky notes, “As opposed to working out of a spreadsheet or a Google Doc, this is us creating characters and starting to understand the personality of these characters…”
  2. It allows you to imagine even the smallest details. By mapping out your customer’s journey, you can better identify potential pain points and anticipate their emerging needs.

These storyboards identified a missing link between Airbnb’s website and the real-life customer experience. As a result, Airbnb shifted their focus to optimizing their now widely utilized mobile platform.


Published November 12, 2015

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