Katarina Orlandini
User Experience for Social Innovation

HomeExchange mobile App

Design and development of iOS and Android Apps

About the project

HomeExchange is the biggest online community of people who travel by exchanging their homes. It has presence in more than 180 countries all over the world. 

HomeExchange has an extended and very engaged group of members who've been asking for an App during the past years, so its development became a priority. It was decided this first version will cover core features like searching for a home, sending/receiving inquiries and answering messages. Main focus was on making our expert exchangers happy and allow a simple chat-like communication tool so our response rate goes up.

I was in charge of leading a team of 4 people: iOS Developer, Android Developer, Product Designer and a QA Analyst.

My role: Product Owner
Project duration: May 2017 - Mar 2018

HomeExchange mobile App
Hand drawn wireframes


The project started with a kickoff meeting were we set the project scope and we went to creating wireframes and specs in parallel directly from there. We created hand drawn wireframes first. Some screens were directly translated to UI and for some more complex ones, we did high fidelity wireframes including all interactions details.

In order to make the right design decisions we used information we had from past interviews about users’ traveling habits and specific requests. In order to make some decisions we also used available website data reports, especially related to responding exchange requests and messages. 

HomeExchange mobile App
Remote user testing sessions

User Testing process

We tested the App in various points during the process. In the very early stage we conducted a user tests with some of our highly active members. We created a prototype on InVision and asked them a series of tasks to fulfil, which concluded in a number of very important insights.

In the next step we used our company's in-person yearly meeting to test the first version of the App among team members who are also active home exchangers. We recruited 9 of them, learned a lot during these sessions, and also reported a lot of bugs. Each person used their own device and we used observational research methods.

After implementing findings from the previous step, soft launch was made to 50 of our super users. We asked them to fill in a survey in order to understand if they were able to perform the main tasks the App was meant to cover. We also left space for some open-ended questions as these users were highly motivated to contribute.

HomeExchange mobile App

Search filters data analysis

Data gathering

While planning the App features we used the opportunity to clean up some legacy we had on our website. We used the available quantitative data to support these decisions. In this example we reduced the number of filters on the search page based on the usage they had on the website. We also added a few new ones based on our interviews insights. So in this case, the fresh insights for the App were also used to enhance the webpage performance.

Documentation and development

We created detailed technical specifications for Developers and other team members. As we worked remotely this helped us to keep everyone up to date with decisions being made. The Support team also used these to generate new content in the Help section.

We didn’t create specific documentation or wireframes for Android, only some specific adaptations, mostly in cases of native behaviours. Although Android App development started later, the process went faster, as we learned many thing during the iOS early stage.


The final result was around 60 pixel perfect screens translated into two beautiful and simple native Apps. The iOS App was downloaded 1300 times in the first week and the overall feedback from members was very positive.

Note: This version of the App was in use until the merge of GuestToGuest and HomeExchange products in December 2018.

HomeExchange mobile App

iOS App

What I learned

This project was really intense as I had a double role of UX Designer and a Product Owner. I learned a lot working with developers hand by hand, went out of my comfort zone, dealt with strange iTunes requests and cross-team coordination, among others.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Make sure to plan some time to spend on stability issues, when it all seems to be working, actually it might not be the case.

  • Test often. Each time we reached out to members for feedback we had major discoveries

  • Interpret quantitative data with qualitative information. Basically ask the users, don't make easy assumptions.

  • Notion works great for gathering all the project documentation in one place.