SURŌ Onboarding

Guiding customers through a multi-stage listing process

My Role

Product designer


Lead developer




SURŌ—meaning ‘slow’ in Japanese—is a company that promotes travel properties focused on high-quality design, architecture, and experiences aligned with slow travel.

Their collection of properties is highly curated, and that is a huge part of its appeal. Design-conscious travelers engage with the brand for unique and thoughtfully designed spaces that feel hand-picked in insiders. By joining the platform, property owners gain access to this audience with the promotional marketing services to reach them.

Company Origins

SURŌ's founder, a professional photographer, created an Instagram channel featuring design-focused properties and unique destinations that gained over 100,000 followers.

  • Property owners started reaching out and paying for promotion to reach her audience.
  • This business model served as an early test case for the founder’s platform.
  • It also helped her conduct research among customers who wanted alternative forms of marketing.

Instead of building another booking site with high commissions or referral fees, SURŌ’s founder focused on increasing visibility for properties through paid promotional marketing.


Joining SURŌ’s collection is not as simple as listing your property.

The platform requirements and internal workflows add complexity to the onboarding experience.

  • Properties are vetted and require advance approval.
  • Listings are edited and require metadata prior to publishing.
  • Photos must be approved for all listings.
  • Custom photography is required for promotional services.

These requirements ensure a high level of quality, exclusivity, and brand alignment—but also a potentially frustrating experience for customers.

We couldn’t simplify platform requirements. So how might we reduce confusion for the customers navigating them?

It was clear we needed a more guided approach.

Landing Page

Provide information up front

We outlined all information—requirements, steps to join, services and benefits—on the landing page.

WElcome Page

Design the funnel

Once their account is created, outline the immediate steps to list.

I explored two versions—isolating each step and outlining all steps—and tested both with customers in the onboarding flow.

Listing forms

Show customer progress and steps to complete

I divided listing forms into isolated steps. We included 1-2 property attributes per form, and added checklist progress indicators.

While not the slickest pattern, checklist progress indicators easily integrate with evergreen forms. I wanted to design a bespoke onboarding experience, but we didn't have development resources to build it.


Show account-level progress

Users have account access from the moment they authenticate. So we placed the same checklists in property cards as well.

trigger & Drip Campaigns

Send tips and reminders to their inbox

Confirm customer actions and send follow-up reminders.

User Accounts

Provide easy access to account information

Insights from user testing



Large fieldsets or select option lists make forms overwhelming
Group fields or options in smaller sets to reduce cognitive strain.
Minimalist form element styles look modern but reduce visual contrast and perceived interaction.
Provide big tactile elements and buttons. Use spacing, grouping, and increased contrast when art direction calls for minimalism.
Sometimes we requested the same information twice twice from customers, optimizing our own internal shortcuts over user experience.
Eliminate redundancy. Ask users for information once. Reduce overlapping questions and develop workarounds in code.

Business Constraints

Onboarding requirements

While the concept of a “minimal viable listing” helps speed users through onboarding, SURŌ’s business model requires finished listings up front. All details had to be submitted in order to publish, although customers can update them later.

Tech Constraints

Single-developer build

Working with a single full-stack developer, I had to be pragmatic about implementing my experience vision. I would ask, “what’s the easiest way to achieve this?” or “how would you design it?”

  • We used the same forms for customers to onboard new listings and edit published listings, to minimize technical overhead.
  • Not all forms could be broken into steps, for validation or security reasons.
  • We didn't have the tools to create intelligent metadata. Tags for regional data and thematic collections had to be entered manually.


  • User testing the original forms and account screens helped me improve the presentation and conversational flow of onboarding steps and sequential forms. Later testing of our landing, welcome and status pages and an improved form sequence, helped me align our product requirements with the existing mental model for listing sites.
  • Our next step will be user testing the live site and collecting customer feedback, initially via email, and then an integrated platform feedback from.

Next Project

SURŌ Platform Management