Why is the Airbnb website and UX utter shit?

Google Barnacle
Apr 14, 2018 22 Comments

Hello Airbnb friends. I do not mean to be rude but your website is slow as balls and the navigation UX, which seems to change every month and rearrange links in new, confusing places, is quite bad.

I’m a host and a guest, and every time I use your website it’s like I’m loading it from a toaster modem. Have you ever heard of a PWA?

Also getting new search results as I move the map is painfully slow compared to Craigslist, and this is on my engineering-grade MacBook Pro.

I know you have a lot of smart frontend engineers based on your contributions to open source, so I’m curious why there’s such a disconnect between your flagship product and the talented personnel.

Would love as much detail and technical explanation as you’re comfortable giving.

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TOP 22 Comments
  • Airbnb / Eng :(){:|:&}
    Engineering culture rewards tacking on more and more shit much more than it does improving and fixing what exists and is broken.
    Apr 14, 2018 1
    • Google Barnacle
      OP
      Definitely don’t know anything about that here at Google!
      Apr 14, 2018
  • Airbnb / Design Chasun
    It’s being worked on, I promise. We know it sucks too. I’m also embarrassed, but hope is around the corner.
    Apr 15, 2018 1
    • Google Barnacle
      OP
      Can’t wait to see what’s next! 👍
      Apr 15, 2018
  • Airbnb HKTd54
    As for website being slow, there are lots of reasons why that is. Both the backend and frontend has performance issues. Backend is mostly because of Ruby on Rails monolith that’s made up of sequential fetches to DB and other services and frontend is because there’s just too much Javascript to parse and execute on load.

    We are aware of both issues, but like the above said, people who ship features adding more sequential DB calls in the monolith instead of migrating into a service with parallel processing or calls, or adding more Javascript for the additional features instead of refactoring into common components and reusing them, get rewarded.
    Apr 15, 2018 3
    • New Jalapi
      Great answer
      Apr 15, 2018
    • Google Barnacle
      OP
      Thanks for the reply, that does explain a lot.
      Apr 15, 2018
  • Airbnb panbroke
    can’t speak for design/UX but we are definitely working on performance across the board
    Apr 15, 2018 1
    • Amazon eHTC18
      It's September. I know software takes awhile but are you guys still on it? Love the service, hate the site.
      Sep 11, 2018
  • Airbnb / Eng
    oneline

    Airbnb Eng

    PRE
    Google
    onelinemore
    Good engineers are looking for way out. They don’t care. Bad engineers are clueless.
    Apr 14, 2018 0
  • Zillow Group sofaking
    Because they know the alternative is Expedia
    Apr 14, 2018 1
    • Google Barnacle
      OP
      Zillow’s frontend is very solid. Much better browsing experience than Airbnb.
      Apr 14, 2018
  • Square SaladSlayr
    I hate that you have to click a stupid little button to view photos. Prefer the common pattern of giant carousel at the top of the listing page.
    Apr 14, 2018 2
    • Google Barnacle
      OP
      Yeah they changed that behavior, you used to be able to scroll through them until some one decided to make everything shittier.
      Apr 14, 2018
    • Airbnb / Eng Eatrium
      What? You can still click the giant photo to start the carousel, you know. I’m not on the team that added the little button but my assumption was they added it because some folks didn’t realize you could click the giant photo.
      Did it backfire and now some folks think you HAVE to click the little button to view the carousel?
      Apr 15, 2018
  • New HuckleX
    Utter shit? What do you think is good? Also your opinion is subjective
    Apr 14, 2018 4
    • Google Barnacle
      OP
      Utter shit is maybe too generous. I’d rather look for a place to stay on Craigslist than Airbnb. Faster, less bullshit, and the free form search is way more powerful. Airbnb has a limited set of filters and no free form text search.

      The Airbnb website feels like marketing just hovered over the engineers desks all day and asks them to do a bunch of awful things in the name of tweaking metrics.
      Apr 14, 2018
    • Airbnb HKTd54
      You’ve answered your own question on the very last paragraph. There are lots of weird things that you’d think it’s common sense to do the opposite, but all the testing and experimentations show otherwise. Human behavior is irrational.
      Apr 15, 2018
    • New Jalapi
      Personally I stopped using Airbnb when a host gave me a bad review because I didn’t clean their toilet. Otherwise I loved it.
      Apr 15, 2018
    • Twitch SerialMalk
      Yeah but what did you do to that toilet, man?
      Apr 25, 2018
  • GE / R&D iceship
    True. I’d open up apis and let the community come up with better lookup and search. Airbnb can handle the actual reservation.
    Apr 14, 2018 0