In today’s world, it is almost unthinkable to design consumer solutions that don’t take into account the user experience. Omni-channel and personalized services have become the bare minimum for any valuable, sustainable product that enters the market.
Airbnb: A case study
But in the ever-growing world of sharing economies, user experiences often have to take into consideration more than one type of end user; sometimes the same service or business needs to mitigate between two sides that have different needs, points of view, or aspirations.
Think about it. Most likely, we’ve all used Airbnb as a platform to search for accommodations for a future trip. Some of us have also used the platform as hosts, to rent out a room or a flat to make some extra cash on the side. Airbnb must provide an optimal user experience for both guests and hosts - two users with distinctly different needs and motivations. The professional term used to describe these kinds of platforms is known as a “two-sided market,” which describes platforms with two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits.
Airbnb is definitely one of these platforms. In this case, Airbnb understood that creating an optimal experience for property seekers on behalf of listing owners would help create an optimal experience for all sides. In doing so, it started to actively promote renters’ properties on the site, helping them create the optimal offering. It payed professional photographers to take pictures of the apartments, and also helped in writing their listings’ descriptions. By doing so it gained twice: it seeded its marketplace with attractive opportunities which encouraged the consumers to try out the service, while helping property owners create beautiful pages for their listings at no cost, and minimum effort.
Regular usage of the platform was also well considered. When signing up to the platform, Airbnb asks its users to identify their role as host or guest, directing them to an interface that focuses on their needs in that specific role. Want to change roles? No problem, the app lets you switch between being a guest and a host with one click, and accordingly changes the entire interface and experience. As a guest you can explore the must-sees near your future accommodations, and as a host you can get tips on how to accelerate profits and track how much you’ve earned so far.
A study in Uber: Meeting the needs of passenger and driver
Uber faced a similar challenge. How do you create a holistic experience for both passengers and drivers alike? The company decided to enlarge its market by subsidizing the car owners - letting drivers register within the platform for free, and offering a beautiful app that allowed them to switch their availability in seconds. It realized that by doing so it created optimal experiences for both sides. Uber also understood that its drivers are unlikely to switch between the roles of passenger and driver, and developed two distinctive apps that put the focus and emphasis on the things that matter for each side- be it the passenger, or the one who sits in the driver’s seat. Want to be both? You’ll need to download both apps to get both interfaces and experiences.
Each approach offers a consistent experience for both users that are distinguishable from the other, but that leverage and build on the specific needs of each role. Answering user-specific needs, while additionally identifying parallel needs that transcend conflicting interests, is the key to building successful and meaningful solutions. Both sides of Airbnb and Uber users share underlying traits. Designers have to work to achieve a consistent experience; both sides are characterized by similar digital orientation and technological perceptions. Thus, differences in needs are attended to by primarily addressing differences in functionality.
Creating a happy banking family
But what happens when the two users differ? Not only in terms of functional needs, but also in terms of their underlying behavior with digital products and technological perceptions? In these cases, designing for one could literally obstruct the other from using the product.
Here at Designit TLV we faced this challenge while working with Bank Leumi, one of Israel’s leading banks, designing a financial solution that would meet the needs of teenagers and their parents - two conflicting users, to say the least.
We understood that parents and teens are different not only in their interests and demands, but also in the ways they perceive and use technology, money, and services in general. Teens’ digital behavior is extremely different from that of their parents, and any solutions had to take this into account.
We immersed ourselves in the world of Israeli teens to develop a deep understanding of what teens and their parents each require in the financial space. We quickly came to understand that despite being a family, each user has distinctive and often conflicting interests. Our research into Israeli teens uncovered a sophisticated group seeking financial independence, with parents who desire better management of the money they give their children. We realized, somewhat surprisingly, that teens want an app that gives the sense of a banking app, allowing them to feel like adults while still embedding their ‘beloved’ UI features such as swiping, short texts, big visuals, and minimum screens and options. Parents, on the other hand, didn’t want another app, but wanted to use their proprietary Leumi banking app to be in control of family spending. Seamless integration with the existing Leumi app allows parents to transfer funds to children, while maintaining control of the amount transferred in the context of their preferred app.
These insights formed the concept, experience design, and visual identity of the first mobile banking app for teens in Israel, leumi.me, and the accompanying debit card, enabling both financial independence and the ability to track spending by both parents and teens. This solution is the key to success: it offers both sides the seamless experience that is relevant and meaningful to them, whether the user is a Snapchat- savvy teen looking to get some cash from their parents, or a parent who wants to be aware of his children’s spendings and savings.