Holidu! The world's biggest meta-search engine for vacation rentals. It was founded in 2014 and I joined in 2016 as the first full-time designer. Since then, I helped the team launch three new products, double our conversion rate on the Holidu website, quadruple our headcount and recruit and lead a team of 5 designers.
For consumers: The inventory of vacation homes is fragmented across hundreds of partners such as Booking.com, Airbnb, HomeAway etc... Properties can be found on different platforms with different availability and pricing, making the search and booking of properties cumbersome and exhausting.
For tech: Meta-search is complex. The influx of data structures is fragmented and miss-aligned, requirements across partners are widely different and pricing and availability requests are not standardised. The barrier to entry is low and competition is fierce.
Design and build a reliable and trustworthy product that makes it easy for travelers to find and book a matching vacation home.
What I do
As a lead designer at Holidu, I lead the design across all platforms including web and apps. I help the team conduct the user research we need to make informed design decisions and help rebrand Holidu's identity as we go through hyper growth.
Research is a key component in informing decision making. When I first joined Holidu, I wanted to establish a culture of research and user-centricity. We needed to understand our user's expectations, pain points and needs. I first set-out by conducting 21 users interviews from different backgrounds, age groups and gender and collected feedback from all main stakeholders.
There was an overwhelming sense of lack in trust and the data supported it.
Since then, all features are designed to remove fear, increase trust and help confirm the user's choice. We also extensively work with User Testing to collect feedback on new features and regularly meet with our users to validate the direction of the product as it evolves.
100+ research studies in 2 years
Conducted by the design team
Archetypes were extracted from the user research to help our teams understand who our users are.
Creating a vision
Research showed us the way we have to take to improve. But we were still missing a vision that binds the product team together. In summer 2017, the design team worked with the founders to envision what the product should look like as we moved forward. We explored a new brand direction, investigated new interaction models and defined design principles and a design language for the new Holidu website and app.
Design and development
As the team grew bigger, we started slowing down. The team leads decided to try splitting the teams in two, creating two squads with each having a distinct part of the user journey to focus on. Every squad had a dedicated designer, frontend and backend developers and a product manager. In the new setup our velocity increased and surpassed our previous record. We rebuilt the new product from scratch and launched it. We then conducted a new round of in-person user interviews. All main pain points were resolved with the exception of one: The users wanted to stay on Holidu and not get redirected to partners pages. We are now working with the business development team to see how we can accelerate this process.
Meta-search products are inherently difficult to build a cohesive experience for. The complexity in the data structures and variations and contracts across partners go against unification and standardisation. Yet people see value in them since there is no alternative out there.
Stay in touch for further updates and thanks for reading.