Airbnb Retests The Infamous Infinite Scroll

Leak #84 from   |   Jul 19, 2022 Home & Landing

I believe Airbnb just a/b tested infinite scrolling and rolled it out. Sometime this year they evolved their homepage to include specific property listings. As  these property tiles appeared, a month ago I also managed to capture a screenshot of two versions of their homepage: one with 40 results per page that would load more listings with a "Show More" button; and another version with an endless or infinite scroll. 

This blew my socks off as Etsy's Dan McKinley tried a similar experiment 10 years ago that was rejected. Apparently there were -50% items being viewed and almost -23% fewer sales.

A - Jun 8, 2022 Screenshot
IMPLEMENTED Confirmed Jul 19, 2022
B - Jun 8, 2022 Screenshot

Highlighted UI Changes From This Leak

  1. Infinite Scrolling

    Here we see one version with 40 items per page. And another version with an endless or infinite scroll. Does this mean that infinite scrolling now has potential? 

So Does This Mean Infinite Scrolling Is Now Better?

I don't know. I would like to see more experiments with actual data before committing to any confidence one way or the other. Both of these experiments are only very high level signals. There has been some analysis on the topic here and lots of discussion over at Hacker News some years ago.

In the presentation, Dan also admits that they did not iterate on the idea of infinite scrolling as they did on other more successful experiments. This leads me to believe that alternative and effective versions of infinite scrolling may exist.

Perhaps the effectiveness of infinite scrolling may be conditional. Perhaps it interacts with other elements or UI behaviors. Although I haven't seen how Etsy did their implementation back in 2012, we can perhaps infer a number of things about the current and successful 2022 Airbnb implementation. For example we know that:

  • Airbnb opens listing tiles in new tabs. Perhaps this makes it easier to search for listings in one tab, while looking at item (property) details in another one, while switching between both of these modes. Whereas, perhaps in Etsy's case back in 2012, hitting the back button reset the position of the search?
  • Airbnb floats the search box. Perhaps the visibility of the search (and category links) is critical as a quick way out in order to continue refining the results. I'm not sure how Etsy did this in 2012.
  • Browser Compatibility Issues. A lot of things have changed and improved in the last 10 years when it comes to browsers and asynchronous interactions. On Hacker News, the Etsy developers themselves commented that there were issues with Internet Explorer.
  • Inline Favoriting. Airbnb in 2022 has inline listing favoriting - if that matters.

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