I ran a usability test with the goal of uncovering pain points in Airbnb’s rental booking process.
Users had either used Airbnb before or considered using Airbnb to book their accommodations.
My hypothesis was based on 1) the expected age of the individuals featured in photos on Airbnb’s home page as it’s common for companies to use photos/videos their target audience can relate to, 2) the average age of employees at the corporate companies which have partnered with Airbnb.
Airbnb is attempting to formalize business travel by partnering with other technology companies such as Lyft and Evernote - I assumed Airbnb targeted companies to partner with based off of employee demographics, and the average age at these tech companies tend to range from mid twenties to mid thirties).
In my usability test, obviously the users were not actually looking to book a reservation.
For real Airbnb users who are looking to book a reservation, I don’t think they would feel any aversion pressing “Instant book” if that’s what they wanted to do.
Only those who are not serious about instantly booking a reservation would be filtered out, which is most likely what Airbnb wants.
I love the company, and I love UX. I just wanted to see if I could help make it more fun and intuitive to use than it already is!* Though I uncovered a handful of usability concerns in my test, I thought the design suggestion for the wish list feature would be the most impactful towards Airbnb’s bottom line.
The orginal article.
Publishers responded to the threat of digitisation by making physical books that were as grey and forgettable as ebooks.
At the same time, publishers’ production values have soared and bookshops have begun to fill up with books with covers of jewel-like beauty, often with gorgeously textured pages.
As the great American cover designer Peter Mendelsund put it to me, books have “More cloth, more foil, more embossing, page staining, sewn bindings, deckled edges”.
“A very large part of the way I sell books has been about how you present them, how you bring the customer to them and exploit the tactile sense of a physical book. We’ve changed the furniture at Waterstones to make that happen. We have smaller tables with more focused displays. Everything is aimed at persuading people to pick things up, trying to catch their eye, making bookshops a place where you discover beautiful things.”
After the financial crash, he says, “There was some cost-cutting and shortsighted penny-pinching that went on, trying to boost profit margins by cutting back on production values, and I think publishers realised that consumers needed a reason to go to bookshops. And that was to buy proper books with decent paper and decent design. We’ve seen a clear relationship between books that were successful and books that looked nice and had been made well. So it then became a commercial imperative to do it.”
Mitzi Angel, publisher at Faber, says: “A good designer interprets the writing alongside the editor. Sometimes, a brilliant, unexpected cover can provide the publishing house with exactly the right way to conceive of a book. It can be a light-bulb moment. You think to yourself, ‘Ah! NOW I know how to publish this.'”.
There were books whose covers relied on typography – Nikesh Shukla’s The Good Immigrant, Open City by Teju Cole, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; or those whose high-concept covers burned in the mind – Ben Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet, Stuart Dybek’s The Start of Something and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. Two recent bestsellers in particular, one fiction, one non-fiction, seemed to epitomise the beauty and sumptuous production values of this annus mirabilus for book design: The Essex Serpent andThe Silk Roads.
The most cherished books on my shelves are anything but beautiful – an early hardback of The Great Gatsby with no dust jacket and “Property of the Women’s Hospital” stamped on every other page; a broken-spined New York Review of Books edition of Renata Adler’s Speedboat that has clearly been dropped in the bath.
The orginal article.
Reading is time-consuming-and as a busy professional, it’s almost impossible to both find the time to read and actually stay focused enough to reap the benefits when deadlines start piling up.
Thankfully, experts at Harvard Business Review have discovered some tips and tricks to ensure that you not only make reading a daily habit, but that you’re able to radically increase the amount you read and the benefits you reap.
As Rubin put it, quitting early gives you “More time for reading good books! Less time reading books out of a sense of obligation.” Think of it this way - about 50,000 books are published every year.
Stephen King, who attributes reading to much of his incredible success as an author, reportedly told people to read about five hours a day if they want to follow in his footsteps.
So if you’re committing to reading more books, express your goal and your steps to get there-even write it down-but keep it to yourself.
Media strategist and author Ryan Holiday stresses that changing how you think about reading is the key to reading more.
The overwhelming effort to sift through thousands of new books each year can eat away at your mental power before you actually read a page-and that’s why HBR recommends you find curated book lists.
Maybe we can’t all read 500 pages a day like Warren Buffett, or finish 50 books a year like Bill Gates.
The orginal article.
The books in the Amazon bookstore-assembled according to algorithm-feel like that, too.
They exist far less to serve the desires of the reader than to serve the needs of Amazon, a company whose twenty-year campaign to “Disrupt” bookstores has now killed off much of the competition, usurped nearly half of the U.S. book market, and brought it back, full circle, to books on shelves.
Greeting customers, front and center, is a “Highly Rated” table, featuring books that have received 4.8 stars or above on Amazon.com, among them Trevor Noah’s memoir, Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, a book by the couple on the TV show “Fixer Upper,” and a book about kombucha.
The store, in other words, is designed to further popularize, on Amazon, that which is already popular on Amazon.
Some sections in the bookstore seem organized like an ill-advised dinner party: in nonfiction, James Baldwin sits next to David Brooks, who’s above Ta-Nehisi Coates, who’s next to a book called “Pantsuit Nation,” which is based on a pro-Hillary Clinton Facebook group.
There are a few types of books that are served well by the Amazon bookstore.
There are Amazon reviews underneath almost every title-Internet comments intruding on your book purchase by design.
A snippet underneath Rachel Dolezal’s memoir urges readers to check out its “Poignant depth.” In the children’s section, there is sometimes more text in the review blurbs than in the books themselves.
I saw “The Princess Diarist,” by Carrie Fisher, and remembered that I’d been wanting to read her previous book “Wishful Drinking,” but of course the store didn’t have it.
Finally, I found something I wanted to read: Lidia Yuknavitch’s novel “The Book of Joan.” I scanned its bar code: $17.70 with my Prime membership.
The orginal article.