UX Case Study 4: Williams-Sonoma

Bringing Our Kitchen Into Your Home

As a leader in gourmet cooking tools, ingredients, and learning programs, Williams-Sonoma is in a prime position to provide the cooking knowledge while leveraging their massive supply chain to increase sales in a captive area.

Goal: Utilizing a responsive website, customers will be able to book at-home cooking lessons with a Williams-Sonoma chef that will teach them how to design and make a meal, and will guide them to products that can help complement their current kitchen assortment.

We started our process by reviewing the current offerings of Williams-Sonoma and what feature or offering may be missing from their current portfolio. Additionally, we reviewed market trends for home cooking education options. While there were many meal kit options and catering options, there really weren’t options for the in between. This showed us an opportunity for a name brand to bring their offerings into the home.

Our design solution provides Williams-Sonoma with a responsive design that would allow customers to continue their in-store experience at home and allow Williams-Sonoma to expand their reach and offerings.

Overview of final design ideas and concepts:

Three tiered offering:

Some of the ideas that we discussed as a team but did not have the opportunity the fully hash-out were the following:

  • Who would manage the invite list? The customer or would there be availability for WS to invite and organize
  • When the dietary options are selected — how does the Chef communicate with the host to adjust the meal.
  • Cookware consultation so that the chef is aware of what they need to bring and what they don’t.
  • After event followup with discount code for store purchases.

Business Offerings:

We put together an overview of the offerings that both the clients and the customer would receive from this product.

Please see below for the research process and findings for this project.


Competitive and Comparative analysis

We began our research by creating a list of competitors and comparing their features, services, and designs.

Competitive/ comparative research included:

Currently, Carried Away Chef would be the closest competitor in terms of comparable services provided. However, Carried Away Chef is available only in Manhattan, is not a known brand like WS and for the most part seems to cook and leave. Thus limiting its direct competitor to this one market where as we are looking to position this as a pilot project in a number of markets. Carried Away Chef also positions them selves as being a sort of “magical” service that happens while you are away. The items are made and left behind with heating instructions whereas our proposed program is more hands on with the customer.

On a national scale, Pampered Chef would be the competitor in terms of offering similar services that we are looking to implement. It is worth noting that Pampered Chef approaches this from the angle of wanting to sell the products first, with a demonstration by the instructor being less about how to actually make the recipe and more about the merits of the individual appliances. While our service does seek to sell WS products as well, one of the main objectives is teaching the customer how to make the meals with the sale of the appliances as an afterthought.

*See “Feature Comparison” in the appendix listed at end.

Contextual Interview

As a team we went to two Williams-Sonoma locations in NYC. The first on was on 17th street. We interviewed one of the store managers about there classes and offerings. We were quickly informed that it was a smaller store with minimal class offerings ,and we should talk to the 59th street locations. Our visit to the Columbus Circle location was much more informative. They have many more options for openings including currently running a trial for in home chefs. This information was interesting. Not only did it mean we were on the right track but it was already being test. We did confirm that this was a trial and that it was not advertised anywhere. This trip confirmed the concept and the need for this opportunity.

Technical background research

  • API’s needed: Instacart, back office scheduling, calendars (ical, google), Payment processing (Stripe)
  • Plugins: Social connections
  • Responsive site standards:
  • Will scale across all platforms and screen sizes


Several API integrations occur both on the front end website utilized by the user and the back end website utilized by Williams-Sonoma employees for the purposes of organizing and executing a customer’s order for their Les Chefs reservations. These include:

Front End

  • Social Network integration for event invites.
  • Instacart for food order management.
  • Customer scheduling with calendar integration. Back office scheduling for employees.
  • Payment processing information. (front load info) Payment processing integration

User research process and takeaways

In order to begin to find our user group we created a screener survey designed to ask users questions about the cooking habits. Our target users were people that wanted to learn how to cook but preferred a more intimate setting like their home, or, someone that may know how to cook already but enjoys the “event” and social aspect surrounding hiring an in-home chef and cooking for others as the end result.

Survey Questions:

  • What is your age?
  • What is your household income?
  • What do you identify as?
  • How would you rate your cooking skill/knowledge level and willingness to learn?
  • Have you ever taken a cooking class or attended a cooking demonstration?
  • Have you used any of these services before?
  • Have you shopped or purchased services from any of these brands in the last 12 months? (Check all that apply)
  • We’d love your opinion! Would you be willing to participate in a brief (15 minute) phone interview on this topic?

Of the users that were surveyed we were able to determine that while 50% of users cooked often and were interested in learning more, only 43.8% had ever taken a cooking demonstration. From the interview responses much of this had to do with timing and the level of which the classes were taught. They are often fundamental skills that a regular cook would not really want, or, it is only one dish, and they were more interested in learning how to create a menu for a mean cook a full meal for a party.


From the users that we tested we came up with two personas. These personas aided us in our designs and our testing.

User Interview Findings::

From the responses from the surveys we focused our interviews with users with varying levels of cooking skill but were interested in learning more. From the survey interviews we did we found the current themes:

  • Education — There was a genuine interest in furthering the education but not really an interest to take in-store classes.
  • Time — There is a concern about the time involved in meal kits for repetitive learning
  • Cost — For the meal kit users the cost was getting to be too much. With an event they were more willing to spend the money because it’s not just a class but an occasion.
  • Reputation — They would be more inclined to choose a chef based on peer feedback but did like the idea of the Chef’s coming from a known brand.
  • Fun & Social — They liked the “fun” aspect of a cooking occasion or event in their home


Feature Prioritization:

Using the our notes and videos from the videos we synthesized the data and used it to guide the design process. I have bolded all the features that were incorporated into the design. *Indicates Tier 2

Iterations & Testing:

Initial design sketches focused on the idea of creating an ever scroll website that combined ease of use with an informative and visually engaging experience. As a group we reviewed the designs and decided which aspects we liked to combine and focus on a final starting home page. One of our teammates then worked on the initial low fidelity designs.

Preliminary Sketches for the home page

Sample of low fidelity designs:

Further research into the design process found that an ever scroll site was a feasible option for us and within the scope of this project.
Choosing a chef would highlight all dishes cooked by that chef and hide the rest

User Testing:

During testing we asked participants to complete the tasks of the of our two personas to test the designs and listen to their feedback.

Task #1: Please select the BASIC plan level. Choose a meal, enter in the # of guests and the type of event, date and time and purchase your event!

Task #2: Please select the Chefs plan level. Choose a Cuisine or a chef, enter in the # of guests and the type of event, date and time and purchase your event!


The feedback findings below is not in any particular order and have been noted by a (+) for Pleasure, (-) for a pain, or nothing for general feedback.

High Fidelity Fundamental Tier sample:

Here are a few samples of the high fidelity prototype that we created. You can see all pages in the spec doc in the appendix.


We had moved the tiers lower on the first page and after review, have decided that this is too far down and will need to be reviewed again to be moved up to a more prime position. Further testing will be needed.

High Fidelity Premier Flow:

We did not have enough time to test the high fidelity so this will move into next steps. You can see all pages in the spec doc in the appendix.

Responsive Design Sample:

Responsive Design — all images available in the the spec doc.

Next Steps

  • Test the high fidelity prototype on users, synthesize and create additional prototype refinements.
  • Future design research could focus around the initial ever scroll concept as well as additional features (identified in MSCW) that did not make it into the high fidelity prototype.
  • Review opportunities with client for concierge to manage guest list.
  • Review opportunities for cookware sales post event.

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.