Vrbo Rebrand Series: Mobile App Team
From testing new technologies to launching the Trip Boards feature, the Vrbo mobile app team takes you behind the scenes of the brand refresh in part two of this series. Read on to see how the Vrbo team is helping people travel better together with the updated mobile app.
Q: How was designing the mobile app refresh different than other projects you’ve worked on?
Brady Miller, Senior iOS Software Engineer: “One of my responsibilities was to update some of the screens in the app to the new look and feel. This allowed me to work closely with the design team and use tools that I typically don’t use like Zeplin. It was a great experience getting to work on new features with other teams in a fast paced environment.”
Alyjan Daya, Software Engineer: “I worked on the new welcome screen on the Vrbo app. At the time, I was on the Mobile Platform team, so I hadn’t spent a significant amount of time on the Android UI. The mobile app refresh was the first time I worked closely with a designer. From a technical perspective, it was very different from past projects because I had to account for differences between the Vrbo and HomeAway apps that could not be solved by simply applying different UI skins. Since the welcome screen on the Vrbo app displays a video and the HomeAway app displays an image, I had to make structural decisions on how to properly inject the correct resources while keeping the app size consistent.”
Q: What was your role in the mobile app refresh?
David Messing, Lead iOS Engineer, Traveler Apps: “Brady and I primarily worked on the iOS app UI updates and redesigns. This involved things like new fonts, image assets, redesigned screens, UX flows, etc. Basically, if you compare and contrast the old vs. updated versions of the Vrbo app, you can visually see what we worked on.”
Corbin Montague, Senior iOS Software Engineer: “My focus for the Vrbo brand refresh was building the Trip Boards feature. I had the opportunity to build or review nearly every Trip Boards related code that went into the iOS app over the last year and it’s been the most rewarding work of my career. The feature itself is spread across many different experiences within the app (Feed, SERP, PDP, Push Notifications, etc) making it hard to architect well. To tackle this complex problem we had to really flex our “One Team” mojo. Constant collaboration between Web, iOS, and Android engineers, architects, and product managers made this feature a reality and it looks to be one of the most promising features on the Vrbo app. Getting to build a feature like Trip Boards from the ground up takes the primary use-case of our service (group travel) and makes the experience as frictionless as possible. Helping travelers take those conversations they were already having onto our platform was an amazing experience I will never forget. Props to the entire Pulse team for making this feature a reality, I love you guys!”
Pavana Subbarao, Mobile QA Engineer: “I was responsible for the quality of the Vrbo Android Traveler app. I had to make sure the app worked seamlessly on different Android versions and that it was a good user experience for our travelers. This included working with designers, testing the app on multiple Android versions, validating that the features work on the new app, and providing feedback to developers. As a company, it’s our goal to release quality products to our customers and it’s my job to make sure that happens!”
Kian Villagonzalo, Software Engineer: “My role was a redesign of the feed screen and the search bar. My workflow didn’t change much, but this project became a top priority. Most of my work in the last year has been design-related so updating the UI logos, colors, fonts, and incorporating design feedback.”
Q: What was the release night like?
David Messing, Lead iOS Engineer, Traveler Apps: “Marc Perlman suggested releasing the HomeAway app a few days before releasing the rebranded Vrbo app. The two apps share the same codebase, but are skinned differently. This turned out to be a stroke of genius because it allowed us to catch and fix a low impact crash before the Vrbo app was released later in the week. On release night, we felt confident and excited for everyone’s hard work to be revealed to the world.”
Pavana Subbarao, Mobile QA Engineer: “Release night was super exciting. We were all logged in and our goal was to make sure the launch was perfect. We all worked together to make sure the release was smooth and customers did not face any difficulty. Everything went perfect once the Vrbo app went live.”
Q: What was your biggest takeaway or lesson learned from this project?
Brady Miller, Senior iOS Software Engineer: “My biggest takeaway from this brand refresh is the importance of writing robust, maintainable code. We have shared UI components from our UIToolkit that use our fonts and color schemes. I was in charge of updating colors and fonts for the brand refresh. It turns out there were over 100 spots in our code where those shared components were not being used so the color and/or font did not get updated. I had to manually go through and find all of these places and update them to use the shared components. It was a very humbling experience and now our code is better positioned for any future brand updates.”
Q: Have you booked a vacation rental on the new Vrbo app?
Corbin Montague, Senior iOS Software Engineer: “Absolutely! My wife and I are expecting our first child later this year and we booked a house by the beach to do a small baby shower/family reunion. We used the new Trip Boards feature end-to-end and it was great to use it as a consumer and see how my family interacted with it. We all added properties to the board, voted, and made comments within the app until we decided on the perfect vacation rental for us. It’s hard to even describe how happy it made me seeing my family use a feature I poured so many hours into building.”
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