Airbnb's sticky widget

Airbnb is one of the most cited digital success stories because it was a novel idea that rapidly gained popularity in a very short space of time. Part of its success is due to the fact that Airbnb solves two genuine customer problems. The first is to provide a means for people to monetize unutilized space in their property, and the second is to offer travelers a greater range of authentic accommodation options than what was previously available.

But what was also crucial to Airbnb's success was the design and usability of its product. Its clean and usable interface helped it earn the trust of its users. But it is the ongoing optimization—to make booking accommodation even easier—that keeps its users coming back.

Why this is really good UX:

  • Successful UI design is a matter of understanding and prioritization. Known as the 80/20 rule, it—when applied to UI design—argues that 80% of the interaction on a website is on 20% of the functionality. This means that to get the best return on investment, you should spend more time optimizing the 20% because that's what matters to the majority of the experience. In the case of Airbnb, the most critical part of the experience comes down to accommodation pricing and availability. Recognizing this, Airbnb prioritizes its booking widget by making it persistently visible as the user scrolls. This way, the user can interact with the critical element whenever they please because it's always within reach.