Being a Mobile Designer at Booking.com [Sponsor]

Being a Mobile Designer at Booking.com [Sponsor]


We are constantly focused on providing our users the best possible experience with our iOS and Android apps. The iPad app has won the Best Tablet App award at the 2014 Mobile Travel & Tourism Awards, while users also seem to love the Android flavor of the app: a score of 4.6 out of 5 based on almost 175,000 user reviews.

But how do we do it? How do we, as designers, ensure that we’re doing the best for the millions of people who use our apps worldwide?

One of the simplest yet most interesting of philosophical riddles reads ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ It is impossible to explore the multitude of questions this riddle raises in a blog post, but it’s interesting to explore how it applies to the design of everyday things. Who are we designing for, and would it make sense to design something that nobody is going to use? How does the perception of a design by its users shape the nature and value of the design itself?

Substituting tree for pixels, we designers are capable of crafting beautiful, harmonious pixels which are a real feast for the eyes. Yet, design is inherently about how things work, not solely how they look. We design interactive products like mobile apps hoping that actual human beings are going to use and benefit from by allowing them to perform everyday tasks. Essentially, our role as designers is in crafting interactive experiences that render the lives of our users easier.

In this light, do our pixels resonate beauty, simplicity and affordance if there’s no one around to view them, or use them in any meaningful way? Everything we design needs an audience to define and shape its functionality and usefulness, and it’s only when the audience approves and embraces its functionality that we have achieved our goals. This principle is at the heart of our everyday work as designers at booking.com.

Having the ability to design for millions of users ensures that everything we do, every design decision we make will impact a broad audience of our fellow human beings all over the world, in their quest to find the perfect accommodation for their travels. An audience ranging from backpackers exploring Thailand to business people touring Europe; families with children planning ahead for their well-deserved holidays in the States to friends in cafe’s arranging the perfect weekend getaway in a nearby city. Serving that diverse gamut of peoples’ needs is our driving force in crafting the best possible user experience with our design work.

But making sure that an audience exists is only one parameter in the equation. How do we identify and show empathy towards their needs in order to constantly optimize their experience? How can we validate that our ideas and hypotheses are exactly what the users are looking for? Who should we trust when it comes to deciding whether this design or the next one is what works best for the end users?

The way that we optimize for this parameter is through continuous A/B testing with the actual users of our apps. The thinking behind every design decision is only a hypothesis unless it’s verified by the audience, and only then we can know for sure it was a success. This way, we get direct, measurable feedback from our user base about every design decision we’re making, however big or small: from identifying whether postcard photos are preferred versus thumbnails, to whether Helvetica light works better that Helvetica thin for a specific label in a well-defined context. Through this constant feedback loop, the users who are observing and interacting with the app are collectively shaping the experience themselves.

It’s an exquisite, almost symbiotic relationship between the designer and their audience, working together to meticulously craft every single pixel in a way that it’s not only beautiful, but effective and meaningful to every individual who is travelling on planet Earth. Combined with the rapid adoption of mobile devices by travellers worldwide, it allows us to design an experience that follows the mobile travellers throughout their journeys in every step; from finding the perfect accommodation to enjoying their stay and safely returning back home.

Would you like to experience the joy of crafting beautiful pixels that travellers are taking with them around the globe? Join us!

Our thanks to Booking.com for sponsoring us this week.