airbnb / snow white
"Storyboards show us
what words can't."
Joe Gebbia, Airbnb
Co-Founder & CPO
The Snow White storyboards are an illustrated sequence depicting the end to end experience of Airbnb’s primary customers: hosts and guests. A collaboration with CEO Brian Chesky and Head of Insights Rebecca Sinclair, Snow White was an attempt to bring the hyper-growing company into alignment around common goals.
The project takes its name from Walt Disney’s pioneering use of storyboards as a tool for goal setting, problem solving, and organizational alignment. At Airbnb, employees are invited to align their projects with the concerns outlined in Snow White, tying business goals to carefully considered user needs. In the years following Snow White, Airbnb has expanded from 400 to 2500 employees, and from 120 thousand to 3 million host listings.
As a UX illustrator and thought partner, I brought cinematic design thinking to Snow White, looking for ways to clarify character motivation and dramatize action and change. I worked with the team to arrive at insights, and rendered a sequence of 30 images, that attempt to inspire empathy through narrative design, humanizing staging, and thoughtful detail.
"The storyboard was a galvanizing event in the company. We all now know what 'frames' of the customer experience we are working to better serve.
Everyone from customer service to our executive team gets shown the storyboard when they first join and it's integral to how we make product and organizational decisions.
Whenever there’s a question about what should be a priority, we ask ourselves which frame will this product or idea serve. It's a litmus test for all the possible opportunities and a focusing mechanism for the company."
Airbnb Co-Founder & CTO